Facing Fear


photo courtesy of centertechnews.com

photo courtesy of centertechnews.com

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” ~ Pema Chodron

When I first heard the above quote by author and Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, it didn’t make sense to me.  As I thought more about her words, I realized I was putting them in the context of, “There’s a grizzly bear in front of me!” or some other situation where fear is a useful, maybe even a life-saving, emotion to have.  But that’s not what Chodron was speaking about.  Let me put it in the context of my recent venture back into the academic world, not as an instructor, but as a 52-year-old student.

I started my master’s degree in English and creative writing through an online program this past August.  It has always been something I wanted to do, but up to this point, I had managed to make enough excuses to keep it on the back burner.  Each time I thought about it, my heart would rise up in excitement, like an eternal “YES,” until my mind would fill with thoughts about time and money, or how I would juggle other competing responsibilities, and most of all, whether I could handle the work and do it well.  Essentially, FEAR.

I wish I could say I had a formula worked out for overcoming this fear, but I think that what spurred me to act when I hadn’t in the past was that I told people (specifically, I told my boss) that I was going to do it.  So when fear began to creep in, filling my mind with doubts, I had to follow through.

I can’t say that once I was accepted into the online program I wasn’t afraid.  I was; in fact, I still am every time I sit down at my computer to type another assignment.  At times, I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write, or any outline I have seems stupid and sketchy.  Once again, FEAR.

Each time I feel this fear, this unworthiness, this feeling of “not good enough,” I press on, not because the fear goes away, but because I know I’m moving toward my truth, the person God created me to be. Fear is just an emotion, an ego-reaction that is seeking to undermine the Holy Spirit’s prompting to move toward joy.

What is your truth?  What has the Father, Son, and Spirit given you to do that brings you joy and makes your heart leap? This fear we feel is not from God, but from ourselves.  It is easier to play small and low-key than to rise up and be completely authentic from the inside out. By facing our fears and living in the truth of who we are created to be by God, we open ourselves to fully participating in whatever God is doing in the lives of those around us, and we become an encouragement to others to live authentically, too. The joy I have experienced as I’ve moved closer to my truth, the truth of who God created me to be, has far outweighed the uncomfortable feelings of fear that try to hold me back.

 ~by Nan Kuhlman

6 comments so far

  1. Dyann Clark on

    Thank you, Nan. Today I am afraid to do something – but I’m going to do it anyway. Dyann

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      Blessings to you as become more of the person you were created by God to be.


  2. So good, Nan! This one punched me in the gut (in a good way).

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      I never thought I’d view a “gut-punch” in a good way! Thanks for the encouragement!


  3. Jerome Ellard on

    Good one! The kind of fear you describe is the flesh warring against the Spirit – our natural reticence?

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      I agree. Our ego (“the flesh” or “the old man”) is always striving for control, and it often keeps us from living in the freedom that the Father, Son, and Spirit had intended all along. Obviously, our natural emotion of fear is a good thing, keeping us from harmful or even life-threatening situations. But our ego has taken this good, God-given emotion and twisted it so that we don’t enjoy the exciting, Spirit-led life that has always been ours. Thanks for your comment!


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