"Chloe, you're afraid," the priest told me in confession. "Not only are you afraid that God has a plan for you, but you're afraid that, if He does have a plan, it's not the right one for you."
I sat in the confessional, rocked to my core. Me? Afraid? Of God? And His plan? That seemed ridiculous. But as I listened to the words of Christ spoken through the priest as he absolved me, I realized the truth in that statement. I was afraid.
Fear was something that had sneaked its roots into my soul long before that confession, though. I had been afraid of God's plan for my life for a long time. In high school, I feared asking Him if I was called to religious life because I didn't want Him to say "Yes". In college, I feared that I was not good enough for anyone, especially God. For a long time, I wrestled with the question of whether life would be easier if it went according to my plans. There were times when I wanted to snatch my life back from God's hands and organize it exactly the way I thought was best.
At a soul level, though, I wanted to love God and His plan for my life. But I knew that I couldn't love Him without being confident in Him. Fear stopped me from investing in a relationship or friendship. But with God, there doesn’t have to be a fear of being hurt, rejected, or abandoned. Instead, I could have confidence in His perfect love.
That's when Saint John Paul II came to the rescue. His words "Be Not Afraid" spoke into the depths of my soul and my fear. He begin his amazing papacy with that brave cry. His words encouraged me to let go of the fear that paralyzed me and exchange it for trust in the Lord. To trust in His divine providence and mercy. So I begin letting go of what made me afraid and asking God for the grace of trust. I visited Him in adoration and told Him my worries and fears - then I laid them at His feet.
This doesn't meant that everything make sense and I'm never afraid. But the phrase "Be Not Afraid" has been with me through so many trials.
On the way to the hospital as we were losing Marion. Be Not Afraid. During moments of transition with jobs, moving, and change in our lives. Be Not Afraid. When Joseph and I talk about our future family. Be Not Afraid. When I worry that I'm not enough, that I'm not living up to my full potential, that I'm dissapointing someone. Be Not Afraid. During hard conversations with the ones I love most. Be Not Afraid.
During night prayer with Joseph, a line struck me that I had never noticed before. It's from the Canticle of Zechariah: "This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham: To set us free from the hands of our enemies, Free to worship Him without fear, Holy and righteous in His sight All the days of our life."
Free to worship Him without fear. Saint Laurence Justinian wrote: “God certainly prefers our love to our fear and is better pleased to see us draw near Him with joyful confidence and loving freedom than with timidity and servile submission.”
Leave fear behind, don't look back, and approach our Lord. Believe God when He says He doesn't want you to be afraid. Surrender your fears to Him, and rejoice in the relationship He desires to have with you.
Maybe you're like me and you think that controlling and grasping is where happiness is found. After many many months of prayer, I have to disagree. Contentment in worshiping Him without fear? That's sheer, unbridled joy.
"Well they’ll try and sell you happiness and then sell it to you for a fee. I can sell you everything, I’ll just sell it to you free. Oh mama, be not afraid" (Be Not Afraid, Mike Mangione)