The Places That Scare You
Pema Chodron is the author of The Places That Scare You. An American Buddhist, she writes about the things that frighten us most, offering an Eastern take on how to deal with these. “We know that all is impermanent, we know that everything wears out,” she says. “We don’t like it that we age. We are afraid of wrinkles and sagging skin.” Instead of denying the truth about the impermanence of life, she suggests that we “relax gradually and wholeheartedly into the ordinary and obvious truth of change.” While there’s some merit in what she says, ultimately Buddhism doesn’t offer much consolation in the face of our own mortality.
How can we find true peace in the midst of our fears? As Christians, we can “relax into” the obvious truth of change because we have a Savior who will never abandon us. Instead of leaving us alone, he will show us the way through the places that scare us. But just how does he do that? Remember that Jesus is called the Word of God. He’s God’s message about what is real, true and good. That means everything about him—his words, his actions, his reactions, his miracles and his parables—communicates God and his plan to us. As the one who is also called the “pioneer and perfecter” of our faith (Hebrews 12:2, NIV), Jesus blazes the way ahead, showing us both how to live and how to die.
In the end, we find courage not because we have discovered a method of dealing with our fears but because we have found a person who can help us overcome them. He’s the one who will lead us, wrinkles and all, safely home.
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