Fear: the sleeping wolves at my feet.

IMG_2574Though blindfolded, the girl’s expression shows determination. Though bound in a straight jacket, her posture shows strength. And, the turn of her face, shows that she knows where she wants to go, or from where her help will come.

This came to me as I examined “White Noise” while talking by phone to Shaunte Gates, the Washington DC artist who created the work seen in the photo.

We had bought the piece a year ago from Shaunte, who by now is more a son-in-law than our daughter’s boyfriend.

Its stark, stunning beauty drew me—the red flower tucked in her hair—the red splash on her blindfold—her profile—the straight jacket—the wolf curled at her feet, sleeping and resting its beautiful, wild head on her foot.

On the phone, I explained a recent discovery about the nature of fear. Like faith, fear is organic, part of our spiritual chemistry, shrinking or growing depending on whether we feed or starve it.

I had been ignoring the fear of disapproval and of not measuring up to my writing mentor’s standards. Its stealthy attacks caused me to question the entire book I was writing. Without realizing it, fear took control and I had lost my way.

Once I recognized that I was reacting to fear, I ended my working relationship with my mentor. He wasn’t at fault. The book is better because of his expertise. But I need more emotional support than he could give me. The process of writing my novel stirs up my past like a wind whips up dead leaves, bringing its debris of painful emotions and severe self-evaluations.

That evening, during our conversation, Shaunte reminded me of his use of wolves in art as representations of fear. He had me reexamine the girl with the wolf displayed in my living room. He pointed out that the wolf, like fear, was present, but not a threat while it slept. When I looked at the girl, a light bulb went on.

With all that hampers her—the wolf, the straight jacket and the blindfold, she holds her body, erect, and her face is purposely turned because despite her condition, she knows where she is going and from where her help will come.

Since that evening, the girl with the wolf has become a visual reminder of an essential truth. The things that keep me from living free—fear of disappointing others, of rejection and ridicule—will always be sleeping wolves at my feet. And yet, I don’t need to be afraid of them because the author of my freedom, the savior of my life, Jesus Christ, is more powerful and His evaluation of me is true. If He wants me to write, I can look to Him to help me keep going when the wolves at my feet, awaken.

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