The Fear Factor

My heart was pounding furiously, my limbs tense and waiting, as I slowly placed the headphones over my ears.  Carefully, I slid deeper into the cave I had created with blankets and pillows, hiding alone in my locked room with a chair propped against the door.  I was ready.

My sweaty palms held the Walkman as if it was a grenade.  I pressed play and waited to be blown to bits.

* * *

Recently, I had a discussion with a group of amazing young women about the concepts of fear vs. love in serving G-d.  I’m all for love, but the one point I had to bring was the incentives that fear gives a person.

Growing up in a religious home, I was given the experience of fearing G-d so that it was second nature to me.  I knew that G-d was everywhere, could see into my thoughts and feelings, and that I wouldn’t be able to hide anything from Him.  At a certain point in my childhood, I thought that G-d had seen more than enough and must hate me.  I grew a bit bolder and decided to give Him a show that would seal the deal and send me straight to hell where I undoubtedly belonged, hence the Friday Night Musical Nightmare.

Breaking Shabbos in that manner was so incredibly frightening.  I was absolutely confident that He was there, despite the layers, locks, and darkness.  I knew Him, felt Him and was desperate to drive Him away.

But that fear….oh that fear…..

Welcoming Him back into my life was a process of love and understanding.  No one wanted to remind me about fearing Him, and there was a very particular slant to all the things I was taught.

Here I am now, in love with my G-d and my life, with no clue how to think of Him as an Almighty G-d who I should be in proper awe of.

I want that fear.  I need that fear.

It’s the only way I can do what I want to do even when I don’t want to do it.  It’s the only way I can push myself to go out of my comfort zone, do things I don’t understand, accept reasoning beyond my scope of intelligence and make a habit of living His way all day, every day.

Trembling before G-d under my blankets when I was twelve years old is the closest I ever really got to acknowledging His absolute sovereignty.

And I’ll never get it back.

9 thoughts on “The Fear Factor

  1. Why do i always get chills in my legs and back when i read your posts? Can you puleeze start publishing some of your writings?


      1. i definitely meant for pay! would you try one of the jewish magazines out there? i was part of a wriitng workshop, published some of my stuff. i have email addresses and contact info if you’d like to submit any of your writings. your essays are so frightening real and compelling. i think many ppl can relate to what you say.


  2. I dunno – maybe loving god trumps following him out of fear? I mean it’s got to mean more when it comes from love than simply cause you are afraid of retribution?

    And anon – isn’t that what she’s doing now? Publishing her writings?


    1. there’s an aspect of fear that i think is important – it’s knowing that there are consequences and understanding the severity of your actions. love is a method of accepting god and agreeing to follow him, but the the fear is the part that accepts his authority. and i do think love should be the base…and the meaning more aspect, well that’s a really big discussion…


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