Far too many people around our planet survive their days in petrifying terror. Whether due to the horrors of war, abusive families, or constant failures, they have become a class of human beings who dread life. Their intense fear fossilizes them into a dormant state of seclusion from life’s activities, people, and society. Eventually, they lose any accurate connection with true-realityand cocoon themselves within their ever shrinking world. For some, it is just too much to bear and they execute the ultimate separation from their fear. They end their life.
Terrorized people are oft categorized as recluses, hermits, most fourteen year olds, monks, ascetics, and those with paranoia and/or phobias. We think of these people as mentally ill; and some probably are. They range from insecure youths to the executive offices of corporate and governmental leaders: they are among the under-dogs and the privileged. The common fear they possess knows no rank or race. It is a soundless terror eating away at their soul.
Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting The Scream, depicts his own horror in a moment of realization that death awaits us all. He too lived a life of constant terror, bordering incessantly on insanity. Even though his works have received international acclaim as some of the finest examples of Expressionist Art, Munch ultimately isolated himself from the world outside in his estate at Ekely (Skøyen, Oslo) where he died at age 80. Throughout his life he remained deeply obsessed with morbid pietism and psychoneurosis. “The angels of fear, sorrow, and death stood by my side since the day I was born.” [Prideaux, Sue (2005), Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream, New Haven: Yale University Press, p.2.]
It is often impossible to overcome such a deeply rooted sense of dread. Nonetheless, there are many who have overcome being terrified of life and reentered the land of the living. How?
- Some have gotten angry. Tired of this life-sucking way of living they finally got mad enough to fight back. They fought themselves; a fight never easy of enjoyable to wage. Until you win. (Note- they often had to fight other peoples’ perceptions of them as well.)
- Many have admitted their inability to beat this agony alone and sought the support of others. No man is an island. Seeking another’s support takes an active decision to trust. Trust is indispensable in defeating terror. It is a risk that must be taken.
- They did not give up after every falter or failure. THEY DID NOT GIVE UP. But they really wanted to.
- Many have turned to God in prayer. Whether you view prayer as truly talking to the God of the universe or not, prayer seems to elicit some form of cleansing, healing, and peace. Personally, I actually talk to Someone. What bothers me is when God talks back.
- They rejoiced as pieces of pain were lifted from their souls. Small victories.
- Some, whom I have counseled, also danced and sang. This self-therapy surprised me. In some way it freed their spirits to soar above the terror and gave them new perspectives on it.
Living a continuously terrified life is not a life. It is an inner death sentence being carried out long before actual death. May God grant you His power to speed you on your journey to new life!
Have a nice week,