There is an old Cherokee legend called the two wolves. It goes like this:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I think this legend illustrates very well how fear and faith come into conflict with each other, especially since I believe fear is really the root of most negative emotion. If you have ever taken the time to examine the two feelings within yourself then you know that the two cannot exist in the same space at the same time. Either we are feeding the one or we are feeding the other, but never both.
The topic I felt inspired to write about this week was one picked specifically for me. My husband is a police officer and he in the process of trying to switch departments. The department he received a conditional offer from is in a small town and in the same area we are hoping to buy a house in sometime in the near future. It perfectly fits our needs and desires. He found out about the testing during particularly stressful time at his current job and only two days before the testing. I believe the the circumstances of the situation are too timely to be coincidental. I believe it is a gift from God. The only problem is, he will have to take a pretty hefty pay cut to transfer. We went back and forth on moving forward with accepting the offer because of this one huge drawback. As much as I worry about the money part of it, when I pray about it I feel peace. Many things have fallen into place to give me confidence that I will be able to use my business to make up the difference in funds needed, but it is still a really scary step for me because it is really putting all of my faith in the idea that if this is a gift from God then He will not let it sink us. He will provide a way for us to make it work as long as I am moving my feet.
Last week my husband finished the last two tests necessary for the offer to switch from conditional to official. Suddenly it became very real and my fear escalated. I’m pretty sure my husband was feeling some fear and anxiety of his own because all of the sudden we were frustrated with each other and with many other details in our lives. Most of the time we are feeling stressed at different times and able to talk each other off the ledge. This time we were both on that ledge together. After having a bit of a meltdown (to say the least) I was able to take a step back and realize I had let my fears take a firm hold on me. And I could see how this had infiltrated every part of my life in that moment. After doing this I was able to pray, adjust my thinking, repent, apologize to my husband, and put my energy back into a faith filled outlook.
This is not the first time I have had an experience with fear. I’m sure it won’t be my last. But I think that the more we are able to step back and recognize what is controlling our thoughts, faith or fear, the more easily we will be able to get back on the right path.
I love the story of Peter walking on water. I admit that I also love the fact that he failed. Maybe that sounds terrible, but the reason I love it is that it gives me hope for me! If Peter as amazing as he was and as strong as his faith was could be thwarted by the wind and the waves because he took His eyes off the Savior then I know I’m going to have these moments too. And just as Christ reached down and rescued him from his lack of faith He can also rescue me from my lacking. I love Elder Holland’s recounting of this scripture from Tuesdays talk, “While his eyes were fixed upon the Lord, the wind could toss his hair and the spray could drench his robes, but all was well – he was coming to Christ. It was only when his faith wavered and fear took control, only when he removed his glance from the Master to look at the furious waves and the ominous black gulf beneath, only then did he begin to sink into the sea.”
I believe that when we feel ourselves start to sink we can be sure it is because, like Peter, we have taken our eyes off the Savior and have begun to give more of our focus to the storm surrounding us. I know this has been the case in my life. I am so grateful the Savior is there to save us. I am so grateful we get to straighten our backs, set our chins, and move forward again, even when we have let the storm get to us. And once again we can vocally or inwardly remind ourselves, “Faith not fear!”