Episode 53: Brave Enough To Refuse To Stay Small (even beyond 50)Jan 23, 2022
She was just this little mousey type of person.
You wouldn't hardly notice if you passed her on the street.
"Much Afraid" was her name. Half crippled by a club foot, she wanted so much to rid herself of bowing to the Fearing Family in the small village of 'Much Trembling' where she lived.
She was a pleaser just so they would leave her alone!
The only light for her in her life was her friend, "The Good Shepherd", who promised her, if she was willing, that he would take her higher - above fear - to a place of transformation. Of beauty. Of courage.
She wanted that so much. Isn't that really what we all want? To live life from a place of joy and peace instead of anxiety and fear?
I know that's me. I'm sure that must be you, too, because people are people. And we all desire the better life.
Well one early morning when the dew was still on the grass, she finds just enough courage, one stumbling step at a time, to meet The Good Shepherd. The assent to the "High Places" begins.
But, before they leave, she must agree to two conditions.
One, she must allow the tiny thorn of love to be planted in her heart. And it hurts.
And two, she must accept the help of two companions. Their names? Sorrow and Suffering.
She didn't want any of that.
She didn't want love that hurt in any way.
She didn't want Sorrow.
She didn't want Suffering.
All she wanted was a good life. To reach the top of the mountain, the High Places.
To be free.
To find that sweet life lived with joy and peace and full of good things.
But Much Afraid was wise. She trusted the way. The Good Shepherd pointed it out to her, showed her where the path had to go.
She knew that he knew her best. And loved her most... despite all the ways that she lived up to her name, Much Afraid.
So the journey began, her hands too often in the hands of her companions, Sorrow or Suffering.
Step by step. She fearfully began to climb the path up the mountain.
The Path To A Greater Life is not for the Faint of Heart
You know, when I think about it - how often I've had to put my own hands unwillingly into the hands of Sorrow and Suffering, resistant to seeing them in any way as helpers. Actually, blinded to that fact. Can you relate?
Much Afraid pressed on.
The way seemed terribly hard. And in some places cruelly difficult and even impossible.
She stopped and built altars as she was instructed.
She felt shock when she was forced to take a heartbreaking detour down into the desert to experience more pain and sadness.
She walked along the shores of Loneliness.
She felt the agony of disappointment and frustration in the wilderness when the path, once again, seemed to veer away from the High Places.
She walked miles across a sea wall through soothing woods and then, again, through deep dark valleys until, at last, the sun broke through.
And she felt...progress. Growth.
There she was - at the foot of the mountain she desired to climb so much.
Yet she had a long ways to go and she knew it.
Forests of danger and tribulation lay ahead.
A great storm forced her and her companions to find shelter in a hut.
And the mist... the endless mist which held her down in the Valley of Loss.
Yet it was there in that Valley of Loss where she first experienced peace.
When she first felt herself surrender to what was.
Another adventure lay ahead. Floods. Carrying her away to a place where she was tempted to just give up. It would be so much easier. She almost did.
Holding On for the Miracle
But then, in her heart, she saw it. The little thorn of love was growing.
Her eyes opened to what was real. Truly important.
She had reached the High Places.
And she was no longer 'Much Afraid'. A new name was given to her.
Grace and Glory.
Her club feet had become like the feet of the mountain goat-like creature called a 'Hind', able to leap and bound up the rocky slope of a high mountain.
Her companions, Sorrow and Suffering, had also been transformed. They were now "Joy" and "Peace".
I read this book in my twenties at a time when I was at a very low place.
Though my head that loved it, it was my heart that responded.
This book became one of the key foundations for the picture of life I now hold.
Life is a journey.
The book is called 'Hind's Feet on High Places' and it was written by Hannah Hurnard in 1955.
The idea of each of us here on earth walking a path helps me to get a picture of my life. To make some sense out of what's happening here.
And I'm finding this especially important as I'm entering the phase that leads to the end of my path. It's a time when many people tell us or show us that they believe that all we can expect is that our bodies will break down, that we'll get sick. And lose our ability to think or contribute or grow.
That this is a time when we simply coast to the end - whenever that comes.
As the age of 50 comes and goes, it's the time to hold on tightly to the picture of the 'High Places'. Life at it's best. When we can be at our peak of love, of influence, of inspiration.
You are a heart. A beautiful heart on a path.
The goal is growing character.
Yes, Bombs go off all over the place.
Boulders drop on you out of the blue, flattening you for a time.
Other people throw rocks at you from their own paths. They become those "Fearing relatives" Much Afraid had that were trying to control her life and hold her back.
And the will hold you back. Freeze you in time. Take away your true identity.
If you let them.
But, if you wake up, open your eyes and really look around, this is a time of learning.
And listening to the one who made you.
This is a time when each of us can take our 'Much Afraid' persona and see it transformed into that beautiful heart of Grace and Glory.
Much Afraid learned from her walk with The Good Shepherd and what she learned are insights that are rare and precious pieces of wisdom in this climb we are on.
Read the next post (#54) to see what they are. And take them into your heart.
For now, remember that you have this beauty inside of you just like she did.
You have a Treasure Box of jewels of learning and greatness that have grown in you along the way, along your path. No matter what age or at what stage you are.
We can 'become' all we are. We can grow. We can go forward.
Who are you?
Who do you want to be in this life beyond 50?
Did you know that the most Epic Mission ever in this life is to face fear, shrink it down to size and overcome it with the seed of love that is planted in your heart?
Maybe you're surrounded by 'Fearing relatives' in that little village, 'Much Trembling' right now. They are no match for you once you allow the little seed of love in your heart to become more important.
To grow larger than the fear: love for yourself, love for others. That's where the courage to go forward and do what you're meant to do is found.
Stay connected. We all need to be connected to a group of people going in the same direction as we are.
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