Each time I let my two little kitten cats out my front door, I am fearful. I am embarrassed to type the words out, but I have to admit they are true. I have two little cats (kitten cats, as I affectionately call them)- one was given to me by a customer of mine, and the other one, well let’s just say- I am glad I went to grab coffee that day and I’m glad the barista asked if I wanted to see a box full of abandoned kittens.
I have slowly turned into a cat person- I used to hate cats for no apparent reason, but of course, once I started taking care of one of them… Obviously my affections changed.
Call me a silly cat lady, but I love those little kitten cats, Oliver and Teague. I love letting them play outside and get fresh air. They are very good pets- coming to the front door when I call their names, not completely ruining my furniture with their scratchy claws- and they even bring squirrels to our front door step as a way of contributing to the household…sometimes two or three times a week. (lucky me.)
But for all the joys of having those little buddies, I’ll admit that when they are out of my sight, worried thoughts occupy my mind.
What if they don’t come back when I call? What if I walk outside, and they have been run over by a car? I mean a neighborhood is a dangerous place for a kitten cat.
These thoughts cause me to feel shame and guilt. Shame because I’m worried to death over two little kitten cats, and aren’t there way more important things for me to be all worried about? And Guilt because I’ve been taught that to be fearful of all the bad things that could happen and to be anxious is a sin against God. And I don’t need any more sin separating me from God, that is certain.
But this brings up a far more important and pertinent issue to understand:
Just exactly why are we fearful anyways? Is the feeling of fear a sin? What do our fears tell us about the world and ourselves?
Chip Dodd, writer of The Voice of the Heart, explains “”Fear brings us strength. It is the feeling that allows us to experience risk, trust, dependency, collaboration, and, ultimately, wisdom because it helps us realize our need for help. Wisdom begins its creation through fear. Fear offers us the chance to decide or discern which direction to go. Fear makes us face ourselves and reveals our neediness. Healthy fear leads me into relationship because it helps me recognize that I am not enough. I need others.”
Some biblical scholars suggest that the idea or phrase “do not fear” or “fear not” has been used in scripture roughly 365 times. 365 times God tells his people, “don’t be afraid” and so we have all agreed that fear is a bad thing to feel, and if we would all just trust God every single day, he would help us not have fear….
“Replace fear with faith!! Do not be Afraid! Not today Satan!,” they say…
But what about all of those proverbs… “to fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom?’ and ‘the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death..’ SO, Are there healthy and unhealthy fears? Is it possible that fear isn’t a sin?
Chip Dodd seems to think fear might not be a sin.
The feeling of fear (if recognized) is similar to the “check engine” light that pops on in your vehicle when something is wrong. Let’s say you’re driving down the highway when you hear a loud ping noise, and upon looking at the dashboard you see the CHECK ENGINE light has popped on.. what do you do?
If you drive an old car like me, you pull over quick, and pop the hood open and have a look at the engine.
I would like to suggest that the feeling of FEAR is a sign that you have some issues in your life that need diagnosing.
In the case of my kitten cats- why am I so fearful of opening the front door and letting them go free?
Because I’m aware of the dangers out there, the life-threatening risks that await them outside the safe boundaries of my home where they are taken care of, protected, and nourished. I’m not ignorant of the dangers they could encounter on their own- the mistreatment that could happen, the enemies they might fight with, even possible death. I realize that I could lose them, and this makes me feel fear.
These are the things which make me fearful; yet every day I still open the door and let them run free. Why?
Because larger than the fear of losing them, is the fear that they might not live up to their full potential. They are kitten cats- born to run free and catch squirrels, and chirp at birds and try to run along fence lines. That joy, of being fully cat, is a privilege given to them, and I have been chosen to protect them, to care for them, and to encourage them to be the best little kitten cats they can be.
And so, once again, these little guys have taught me something of the Lord.
Fear, if given into completely, has the real potential to immobilize me, creating within me an anxious heart so full of worry, anxiety, and stress that I never risk, never dream, never create, never recognize my own giftedness and potential.
Fear, when felt and weighed in the balance, has the potential to awaken me to the things in life that really matter, the risks I’m meant to take, the dreams I’m meant to work into reality, the path I’m meant to walk on.
And so, as crazy as it sounds, as much as I love seeing those little kitten cats safe and sleeping in my sweet little home.
I call their names, and I open the door.
The possibilities for full life and joy await them. So I’ll take the risk.
Scripture Verses to Consider:
Proverbs 1:7; Matthew 10:28; Ecclesiastes 12:13: Psalm 33:85; Psalm 14:26: Philippians 2:12-13; Acts 10:35; Proverbs 2:1-6: Philippians 4:6-7: Proverbs 12:25: Luke 12:22-26: Proverbs 3:5-8: Romans 8:26-28: Hebrews 13:6