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Jewish Journal

Faith Doesn’t Mean Denying Your Fear

by Susie (Newday) Mayerfeld

August 15, 2014 | 9:41 am

Image via Shutterstock.com

Faith and fear. Two things that initially seem paradoxical. After all, how can you be afraid if you have faith in G-d?

As an outpatient Oncology nurse working in Israel, I have found myself on the receiving end of sentences such as these many times.

I believe in G-d, it's going to be okay.”

I don't have to worry, I have faith in Hashem.”

Everything is going to be okay, G-d has a plan.”

Inshallah, all will be okay.”

Sentences that sound self assured, full of faith and strength. Yet at the same time, seemingly at odds with the quivering fearful voice delivering the words, words accompanied by pleading worried and tense eyes.

I have many patients who believe in G-d, some orthodox but many not. Most of the believers, at least initially, seem to worry that feeling afraid of their situation is a betrayal of their belief in G-d. After all, how can you truly believe in G-d and still be afraid of what G-d has put on your plate?

I believe in a higher order called G-d. I believe that G-d's order is not human order and that as flesh and blood we don't have enough perspective to see the bigger picture and be comforted by understanding it. Yet I also believe that it's human to fear. It's a part of us. We're born in order to experience. To experience love, fear, sadness, joy and every other emotion available to us.

Think about your daily life and the gamut of emotions you feel in a single day. Just because you have faith in G-d doesn't mean you can't be worried, afraid, angry, depressed or sad.

Which parent hasn't had their stomach sink or their heart skip a beat when their child has hurt themselves or has gone missing for a minute? Who hasn't been afraid when confronted with an angry mob of people? Who hasn't panicked when the doctor calls to discuss your test results?

For more than a month , from the start of Operation Protective Edge, or as I call it, The Gaza War, I've been living with an uneasiness. A feeling like I'm walking on eggs or that at any moment the rug might be pulled out from under my legs and leave me falling and wounded, flat on my back.

It's no wonder. There is something real to fear. Rockets are being fired at us and there are people who hate us and want to kill us. Even now, after we have withdrawn our troops, the rockets and alarms have started up again.

I have faith in G-d but I also live with fear.

I've been traumatized. Whether it's because I couldn't find my daughter on a Friday night after synagogue when a red alert siren went off and I watched helplessly as two iron dome missiles shot down rockets in front of me, or because the security of my country is up in the air, or because I have a son in the army, or because of the non-stop rise of anti-semitic attacks worldwide or because every single soldier and civilian killed has caused me pain and sadness, whatever the reason, it doesn't matter.

Everyday noises have started sounding like the beginning of a siren alert. A plane flies overhead and without even realizing why my body tenses up. The air conditioner's squeaky wheeze makes me jump.

Even though I believe in G-d, at times I am afraid. Sometimes even panicked. And for the past month, I've been walking around with a heavy heart that seems to be filling with lead. Lead as real as the bullets and rockets being fired at us.

Every car that stops in front of my house in the quiet of the night causes me to hold my breath. Let it be nothing I mumble in my head, willing the car to go away and for the passengers to knock on any door but mine. And then I feel terrible and selfish because I don't want anyone else in pain. What's funny is that I truly believe and have faith that my son in the army is going to be okay and will stay safe. I believe, yet at the same time, something in my human wiring is uneasy.

But I digress as I easily sink into my fears and worries. And that's where belief comes in. You need to be able to feel your fear and accept it. Only when you have done that can you begin to put your belief into action.

I've made the decision to stop trying to reconcile my beliefs with my fears and instead to just make peace with the seeming paradox that my faith and fear can go hand in hand.

Mi Shemameen Lo Mifached

Et Ha'Emunah L'Abeid

“He who believes is not afraid to lose his faith.” Is the chorus to a popular Israeli song.

I say, “He who believes is not afraid to be afraid.”

It's human to fear. Maybe fear is just another G-d given tool to remind us of what is important in our lives. A tool to help us focus. A tool to bring us closer to G-d because it reminds us that we believe in a higher power even though we don't understand it.

So feel your fear. Accept it. Live with it, yet give your faith equal time as well.

Susie (Newday) Mayerfeld is a happily married American born, Israeli mother of 5. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and an avid amauter photographer. Mostly she just wants to live in peace and spread kindness and love. You can find her on her blog New Day New Lesson or on World Moms Blog.

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