A Prayer For Times Of Fear

To Whoever is Listening:

I am afraid. I tremble with fear.
This is not the fear that leaves me in awe of some higher power.
No, I have human fear, personal fear, and it is devastating.
I yearn for something to make me braver.
I know that this something is already inside of me.
Please let me find it soon.

 

I know others who are afraid too.
Some fear for their lives, or the lives of their loved ones.
Some fear making the wrong choice.
Some fear failure.
I pray for them too.
I hope that we can all find something that is bigger than our fears.
If we must be afraid, let us be afraid together, so that together we can overcome our fears.

Amen.

 

Want to share your prayers? Share them with the whole word by submitting to Searching Sophia’s Pockets!

Faith and Fear

By: Autumn Elizabeth

Fear not, you shall not be put to shame; you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced. The shame of your youth you shall forget. –Isaiah 54:4

It is often said that if we trust in God, we need not fear. But here’s the thing. I am afraid. I have not forgotten the hard times of my youth. The disappointment of being a millennial looking for a job, the pain of enduring the violence done to my body and psyche, the hopes dashed, the dreams broken, I still feel them all, and it makes me afraid.

I am afraid to make anything permanent, for fear it will be taken away again. I am afraid of showing my passion for justice; for fear that the world will beat it out of me. I do not yearn for confrontation, yet this is what our world gives me. I am afraid that the world will continue to throw away all the lives, black, brown, queer, female, trans*, that don’t matter to those in power.

Yet, I know that for myself, as a follower of the radical Jesus, I cannot let this fear win. Perhaps, that is what all those passages in the bible are about. Maybe when they say “do not be afraid”, they mean “do not let fear own you”.  I cannot stop fear, but I must dare to move beyond it.

I have to dare to co-create a better world side-by-side with the spirit of universal justice. I have to dare to believe that we can all be valued and safe in this world.  I have to dare to show my heart to the people I love, and to show kindness to the people I don’t know.

I have to dare to believe in a better world, because I believe in a loving God, a powerful force that holds every creation dear. I believe in a God that does not victim blame, does not value some lives more than others. I believe in a God that moves with me in this world so that even the smallest acts of service, of change, of care, matter.

Yes, I am afraid. My faith does not erase my fear, but neither does fear annihilate my faith. They walk hand-in-hand with me as I travel through this messy, broken, and beautiful world.

Afraid Of Liking Loneliness Too Much

 Last week Author in Chief, Jenni Taylor, wrote a post about not being afraid to be alone. Today, our guest post from Nermine Mohamed focuses on fear of liking loneliness too much. Nermine is a Muslim from what she calls “the huge, crowded and contradictory city of Cairo”, although today she is living in Germany. In her post, Nermine shares her wisdom on loving herself while having fears she might be alone too much.

Loneliness is one of the greatest fears of our era. People commit suicide, settle for less, and throw themselves in unhappy relationships just to give themselves the illusion of conquering loneliness. On the other hand, some people are not afraid of loneliness and it is quite hard for them to picture their life with others in it. So, there are actually two sides of this coin: the fear of loneliness and the fear of too much solitude.

I was once a people person. I loved to be around people all the time. It made me feel safe. It made me feel protected. People gave me a sense of identity, a sense of worthiness. I’m no longer that person.

Now, I know who I am and I won’t be afraid to say that I love and enjoy my own company. I never get bored when I’m alone. I think clearly in solitude. I like the sound of my own breathing; I find it soothing; it unlocks my mind; it unwinds my soul. I stopped giving justifications for my thoughts, beliefs or worldviews.

I’m happy with what I’ve become, yet I cannot help but feeling afraid. Yes, I’m afraid of this drastic and ultimate independence and lonesomeness and where it will lead me. Although lots of people fear loneliness, for me it is easy to be alone. It is safe and trouble-free. But is this the way things should be? Are not we made into this world to help one another grow and thrive?

I keep pondering the reasons why I turned into this lonesome soul… There are probably many reasons and fears still buried in my unconscious mind that took part in reshaping who I am. But I know the fear of being rejected, or being caste-out just because I think differently caused me to change. Maybe it is also the intense mental pain I feel when I try so hard to make myself understood and miserably fail at it. Maybe it is my need to justify myself to the expectations of others, no matter how unfair or unreasonable they might be.

Yes, it is healthy to learn to love our own company. Loneliness can make us appreciate good company more; it can unleash our creative nature and make us learn about ourselves in an unusual way. It can help us explore our capabilities, potentials, new talents, and new sides of our personality. It can enrich our soul and make us better people.

Yet, loneliness can also lead to a dingy path and that’s what I dread. I’m afraid too much loneliness might taint my soul and obscure my vision. I’m afraid I’ve been deluding myself thinking that I do not need anyone, because I do need other people. My life can’t be full without others who actually give it meaning and sense.

We cannot go it alone all the time, the road can be long, tiresome and full of stumbles and that’s why we need company; we need people to help us back up when we fall, to slow us down when we go too far, to put us back on the right path when we are lost and confused.

I’m not afraid of loneliness, but I am afraid of liking loneliness just a little bit too much.

I think it is good not to fear our own company, but now I also know that as much as I like my own solo song, every now and then I have to let in some other tunes and just listen to the sound of it all together. Only then I will surprise myself, only when I find harmony in the most unexpected of places, only when I am not afraid to listen to more than my own voice…

The Fear of Loneliness

By: Jenni Taylor

The true knight of faith is always absolute isolation– Kierkegaard

I imagine a knight, the kind from storybooks with armor and a feathery plume. His armor is dented and dusty, his banner battered and torn. He has a face lined and wrinkled, that of Don Quixote- the man who would dream the impossible dream.

Don Quixote had his Sancho, but not always. There are moments in every knight’s life when he must go it alone, in the silences and the dark places. The monsters growl, the trees grow claws in the night, and the knight completely loses sight of his quest in favor of simply trying to survive.

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It is there, in the moments of darkness, despair, loneliness and weakness, that a God of love quietly reaches out his hand. It is not a call, barely a whisper, and sometimes he is silent. But it is only in the dark can his presence be felt, and only in the silence when we are able to hear the slightest hint of a love lullaby being sung to our hearts.

I believe we are meant to be knights. I believe we are supposed to stand strong against injustice, fight for the underlings, bring peace to the lands we live in. I also believe even the strongest of us need to find strength, that knights can falter or fail or get lost in the wilderness. The quiet and dark are feared, as knights tend to fear weakness and prefer to fake a loud show of bravado than to be alone with their faults. But there they are, all the same. They will only be beaten when we learn to be still and alone for the universe to whisper secrets in our ear. Don’t be afraid to listen.

Fear VS Self Worth

Suzanne is an actress, and former Miss Arab USA, who devotes much of her time to ending bullying in schools through her work with notMyKid. Her post for us today is about fear and the pain fear brings. Yet her post also brings us wisdom surrounding self worth, and leaves us with hope for a better tomorrow.

Fear can do strange things to people.

On September 11, 2001, our entire country was fear-stricken and naturally, everyone responded in so many different ways. I’m of the opinion that people are born inherently good and learn hatred through experiences. The experience we all shared that day manifested our fears and wreaked havoc on our souls in a way that it seems we are still recovering from.

I was in high school when the attacks happened. My first thought was the same as everyone else’s, “Oh no! How terrible! Those poor people.” Approximately two seconds later my thought was “God, please don’t let it be an Arab.”

I’m an American-born Palestinian and have deep ties in the Middle East. I’ve always been so proud of my heritage. My parents really did a good job at balancing us within two cultures. But in my day to day life, it wasn’t a looming factor. I was an ordinary school kid who went to class, hung out with friends and had a mad crush on a boy in school. I wasn’t always thinking about my heritage. It was just there.

Until that day. Until I became embarrassed and scared to be me. Scared of what it meant.

The kids around me suffered from a separate fear. The fear of another attack, the fear of the unknown. And often times, I became their proverbial punching bag. In moments of fear, it is normal to find the humor in things.

It’s unfortunate when that humor is at the expense of others. I started getting compared to the most evil man alive. And the thing is, my classmates knew that I had no connection to these heinous crimes. I was just the obvious choice if you wanted to lighten up the situation through the conventional ‘bullying/making fun of someone’.

And in those moments, I hated who I was. I secretly wished for blond hair and a last name like Anderson or Smith. I didn’t want to be me. I was afraid of that.

I now travel to different schools across Arizona and talk to students about my experience with bullying. Obviously, the primary objective is for students to hear this and either, stop bullying or stand up for themselves or others who are victimized. But there’s something else. Something that I have found to be far more important.

Self Worth.

Through the years, I have learned that happy people don’t bully, secure people don’t bully. If you know someone who’s a bully, chances are that they have some internal struggles and manifest their pain in an unhealthy way. I learned how important it is to not bully the bully as they have their own struggles. It makes it so imperative that these people feel that they are valued, that they are worthy of being loved just as they are without the need for intense ego trips.

Meanwhile, bullies prey on the weak. As strong as I used to be, in that moment when I was ashamed of who I was I became the perfect target for a bully to use his words to hurt me. At that time, my self worth went out the window.

I believe that this strongly applies girls today. A person could bully us all day and night and it wouldn’t make a difference if we felt that we were of value, if we loved our bodies, if we knew that we were smart and capable.Self worth is the underlying factor of every issue where we experience fear through verbal bullying.

I’m quite aware that so many young people are physically bullied and that’s something that is beyond what I am describing here. But let’s imagine that everyone- the potential bully and the potential victim- had an understanding of self worth. I think it’s safe to say that bullying and fear of it would decrease exponentially.

We have a long road ahead of us, but I’m optimistic that it’s getting better. It’s become more and more acceptable for people to be unique and different. Gay kids are cool, smart kids are cool, athletic kids are cool. We are who we are and it’s nothing to fear!

 

Seeking Submissions: Fear

It is October! A time for goblins and ghouls, for souls and saints, for mysteries! Here at Searching Sophia’s Pockets, October is also the time to talk about our fears. Fear is an important part of almost every life, of almost every spiritual journey. Fear is universal, it is global, and fear is often where we find wisdom. So we are asking for your submissions on fear this month.

If you are stuck for where to start your submission, here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. What is your greatest fear?
  2. Are you afraid of the future? The past?
  3. Are you afraid of finding the divine? Of not finding the divine?
  4. Do you fear what other’s think of your beliefs? Your life?

We want to know! The world wants to hear your wisdom!

With Wisdom, Love …and Lint,

Autumn and Jenni

A Prayer for Times of Change

This month we have been looking for the wisdom of change, the wisdom in change, and the ways we can change the world for the better. Sometimes though, we need help to deal with changes; sometimes life gives us more change than we feel we can handle. This is a prayer for those times.

Dear God,

Change is hard. It is not easy to give up my previous plans.
Help me let go of the things that are not longer on my path.

These new things, people, ways of life are scary. They are different and unfamiliar.
Help me find comfort in the beauty of these new aspects of my life.

Sometimes, I want things to change, but they remain the same. Sometimes I do not want change, but it arrives anyway.
Help me see the love of the universe in every situation.

These changes in my life make me feel unstable, like I am on shifting sands.
Help me to find stability in my relationships with those who love me, and in my relationship with you.

Amen

As always, please feel free to use this prayer, with any modifications you see fit,  in your places of worship or meditation. If you want to submit your own prayer, check out our submissions page

Changing My Story

By: Jenni Taylor

I come from a family of storytellers. I can still hear my uncle’s voice, a baritone rumbling with hints of love hidden deep in the diaphragm, winding a yarn about an owl taking over his truck and making the rest of the family laugh until they couldn’t breathe. I can hear my aunt, who takes my face into her hands and tells me what her kitchen smelled like growing up, and suddenly the room is full of apple pie.

Stories change you. They pick you up, toss you about, tickle your heart and then prick it with pins. A good story is real, more real than real, in the velveteen rabbit way of love being bigger than facts.

Wisdom comes from stories. Scheherazade, the woman who changed the heart of a Persian king with her one thousand and one tales of adventure, love and loss. Samuel the prophet, who brought King David to his knees with the story of a poor man and his sheep. The creation stories, the myths, the legends spread across time existing to give us understanding, entertainment, warnings, hope, knowledge, and more questions.

I am living my own story now. I choose to let it intertwine with a story of a loving being who gives me purpose and adventure and courage to fight dragons. I cross paths with other stories, other beautiful human beings with expositions and rising actions and climaxes and nothing even close to a resolution quite yet. I have this crazy belief that we may be all a part of another story, one much bigger than all of us, that brings meaning and joy and connections and hope. I think if I can let myself be part of that bigger story, it will change me, and it will be absolutely worth it.

Changing Together

By: Autumn Elizabeth

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I am the change. You are the change too. This point was proven yesterday the the People’s Climate March, which took place all around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people came together, ignored their differences, and marched to make change.

In Paris, where I was marching, the vegans weren’t throwing things at the people wearing leather shoes. Greenpeace wasn’t jostling with the World Wildlife Foundation for the best space. Christian groups weren’t bashing the Atheists.  Everyone coexisted to create change.

This coexistence for change is at the core of my faith and my life. I believe that to create a better world, to create the kin-dom of God here on this earth, in this time, we have to work together. I am not suggesting that my belief is to ignore difference, but rather that I believe we must embrace it and work together anyway.

Being the change also means supporting justice for everyone. Reproductive justice organizations like Planned Parenthood attended the People’s Climate March yesterday, because environmental justice affects reproductive justice. In the same way, men must work to end patriarchy, and white people must work to end racism. If we want change, we have to support each other.

I don’t think I would be a very good representative of Jesus, if I only wanted to help Christians nor would I be a very just feminist if I wanted to oppress men. To make change, we all have to be open. We have to be willing to embrace differences, to help one another, and to unite for global justice.

I am the change, you are the change, and together we can make change happen!

 

The Trees are Changing

By: Jenni Taylor

“Oh, what do the trees know,
Oh, letting their leaves go?
Oh, what do the trees see?
Oh, that is beyond me…”–Laleh

I live in a country where the day and time you were born is believed to set your course in the stars. Being born in the Chinese year of the snake, they say I was given bright eyes and the ability to shed my skins, slither out of houses and homes and countries and places and change my scales at will. I look back and I see my layers spread out across the mountains and plains, only as strong as my memories or writings or letters from friends who know what I am despite my many faces.

The sermon on the mount tells me to be meek and merciful, salt and light, a lily of the field and a rock foundation. It’s not shedding skins- it’s putting new ones on, layer by layer, pieces of creation teaching us lessons and molding our spirits like the very air we breathe.

“Good tress bear good fruit,” he says, and I think of the roots deep in the ground and of the fragile leaves that can be plucked by any passing hand. I think of the colors changing and the rings being added like new life veins every year, each one telling a story, each one reminding me the trees might have a better understanding than I do of spirituality and change and strength and weakness wrapped into each other like DNA strands.

I breathe deep and reach into myself to find that strong foundation, the hymns buried in me singing of God’s everlasting love and faithfulness. I look to the times when I was the most child-like in my wonder and belief in good, and I know that is when the bigness and smallness of the sermon on the mount is beginning to touch my insides and mold me into something new.

I embrace the antonyms and realize the human spirit is allowed to be controversial, because it’s simply big enough to be everything at once. So I decide to be a snake, and a tree, and a human being, and learn the lessons set out before me.