Slaying the Dragon of Fear

I’ll let you in on a not-so-little little secret. I’ve been afraid all my life. Not the quaking, shaking obvious kind of fear. It’s the quiet, hidden fear that gnaws at your heart and mind, that eats away and erodes trust. In effect, it’s the thing that creates a tower for Rapunzel, not with bricks and mortar, but with words and thoughts. And no chemical in the world makes it go away.

It started because I think my dad did see me as a Rapunzel, a princess of God Most High who would never truly get the things of earth. So innocent and pure and naive that I would always need to be protected. So he told me stories, many stories, of all the bad things that could happen. Eventually, he did try to help me think about how to overcome the fear through action.

It was too late. The egg of fear cracked into this little dragon. At first the dragon was cute. I fed it by giving in and not doing the things I was afraid to do. I watered and groomed it by learning how to make it sound reasonable, I upped its hoard of treasure and wealth by rewarding myself every time I kept myself safe through fear and wisdom, I fed its belly fire by reading and educating myself about each new evil that came out.

Eventually, while I was blinded by whatever, it grew to be this big, beautiful dragon. It was majestic. I looked so strong on the outside (and maybe a little awkward and neurotic and peculiar). I thought it was great.

The problem with dragons is that they turn on you. What masquerades as something good and light and wholesome turns into a slave-master, demanding more education and logic and reason and time, until you have no energy left to focus on the things that matter in life. Only the things aren’t things; they’re people.

Maybe my dad was ignorant of this. Maybe later in life on some level he had a vague, whispering feeling that something was not right. I may never know. I just know that the rules for protection in the world he prepared me for just don’t work in the world I live in. But I digress…

When you find that you’ve been misled into serving this slave-master for too long, how do you slay it? You can’t. The best you can hope for is to fight back and wrestle it into submission. In my case, once I’ve done my wrestling, I ask my still, small Voice for help and try to follow the instructions I’m given.

The other problem with this particular dragon is that it tends to mess with my real-time connection to the still, small Voice. This means that the instructions don’t always come through clearly, and I’m left with nothing but archaic, hard copy of the instructions He’s left to others.

So, in my case, how did I wrestle my dragon into a position where the still, small Voice could take over and deal with it? First, I had to recognize that the dragon, as mesmerizing and comforting as it was, was still a dragon. Dragons cannot stay around. The truth may hurt, but it is still truth.

Second, I had to know what the still, small Voice thought about my dragon. Since my still, small Voice loves me perfectly, I knew the dragon had to go because the dragon was a road block, a stumbling block on the road to growth and maturity.

Finally, I had to make a choice and act. I had to face a situation that I had been taught to be afraid of. I had to choose to walk in a place that I had been taught (and maybe taught others) was dark and unsafe. From the moment I stepped into the boundaries of this place I could feel my shackles coming off and wrapping around the dragon.

First, I had to walk with complete strangers jostling me and running into me. I hate being touched by people I don’t know. I hate having my things touched by people I don’t know. It’s not germs or strangers; it’s the knowledge that bad things can come in good packages. People are simply packages of flesh and blood; their thoughts and actions are the things that can give hope or cause despair. So, I had to believe I had the favor of my still, small Voice; He would handle all situations that day; and people were more important than things.

Second, I had to let go of my fear of not knowing and looking foolish because I acted on information when I couldn’t validate the source. Since the 9/11 attacks, everyone has been afraid of everything. We don’t want to be attacked, so we don’t share information. We don’t want to open ourselves to looking foolish, so we don’t admit we need help. We don’t want to admit that we don’t always make wise choices, so we choose instead to blame others, especially those whose outlook is so foreign to ours.

Third, I had to let go of the prejudice of assuming that something was not good simply because everyone held the same opinion of it. As an intelligent woman who isn’t always politically correct, I’ve gotten the snide comments. The cruelest one is the offer of the purchase of a famous landmark. I had to learn that the landmark has to be separate from the comments. Visiting the landmark doesn’t mean you take on the traits associated with the traits of one who would make the purchase. Then, I had to take a step back and see in my heart that the same thing has to be done with information from the Internet, rumor mill, and other sources. If the source seems trustworthy, go with it until it’s proven otherwise.

Fourth, I had to let go of the social rules. What speaks love and kindness in one culture may be the most rude thing to another. One country’s idea of a joke may be blasphemy for a religion in another country. It doesn’t mean that we should give up our identities to get along. It means, when absolute moral Truth isn’t involved, we need to lighten up. We need to step back and see if an action can be viewed from another perspective.

Finally, I had to open my eyes and see the life going on around me. While I don’t want to be shackled by darkness masquerading as light, I can still look at the beauty of the interplay of light and shadow; the sharp edge of dark on a building against the bright light of the sun in the sky; the blurry, hypnotic dance of the shadows from a spring tree.

In the end, the law that finally subdued my dragon was love

  • Loving my still, small Voice enough to try to listen.
  • Loving my neighbor enough to go someplace I didn’t think was good for me.
  • Loving me enough to wrestle instead of run.
  • Loving my family enough to communicate when things were off and I didn’t know why.
  • Loving all my role models living and dead to carry them with me in my clothes and the things I carried and the memories I used.

So right now, my chains are gone. They’ve been transferred to the dragon. I am waiting for my next instruction. I expect I will have some other quests before my still, small Voice finally vanquishes this dragon for me. The dragon will probably shake and fight and try to get me during these quests, like most dragons.

And the dragon will always be overcome and vanquished by Love.


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