Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How Reading a Vampire Book Revealed to Me the Gift of Free Will - Influence of Fear

(CLICK HERE for previous chapter - Intro.)
Ironically, exercising Free Will requires taking into account many influences outside our own power. Whether we realize it or not, many things affect our decision-making process that results in the ultimate choice we claim as our own.
Eclipse is full of people and circumstances pulling Bella to consider a certain point of view. Her actions show she is listening, perhaps trying to listen to them all. In the next couple of days, we’ll look at these influences Bella encountered in her Choosing Fields. You might recognize some of them. Not only do they pop up when we are making a decision for our Perfect Lover to begin with, but also every time the world attempts to draw us away from Him.
One large and looming influence everyone battles is FEAR.
While it is key to dramatic storytelling, it is also something most people contend with at some point in life. It’s something that easily snowballs into a larger-than-life force that drives people to do illogical, nonsensical, unusual things. Bella’s plate is full of things to fear.
For starters, the Volturi, the ruling class of vampires, will be checking in at some point to make sure that the Cullens have made good on their promise to change Bella into a vampire. If Bella isn’t a vampire ‘soon’ then the Volturi will carry out their authoritative ‘responsibility’ and kill her since it is illegal in their world for humans to know of their existence. And the Volturi are not keen on offering second chances.
Then, a certain vampire named Victoria has returned to the Forks area, looking for Bella to make good on her vendetta to kill her. At the end of book one, Twilight, Edward killed Victoria’s mate James because James was about to kill Bella. Victoria operates on an eye-for-an-eye mentality and has been after Bella, Edward’s mate, ever since. Though Edward and his family as well as Jacob and his wolf pack have assured Bella that Victoria has no chance to get to her, Bella is terrified of her.

One other fear has everyone concerned – escalating unsolved murders in nearby Seattle, which to the trained eye implies an army of newborn vampires running amuck. This poses danger on many fronts. One rogue, discreet non-vegetarian vampire sniffing around is one thing. A group of unruly, sloppy, conspicuous newborns with insatiable bloodlust is another. Besides the toll it is taking on the human population, this type of activity draws the eyes of the Volturi intent on policing such behavior. Their attention focused so close to Forks would warrant a visit to see if Bella had been changed yet, which she hadn’t.
So fear comes full circle.
But those are only the external factors.
The internal struggle she’s having with her choices is greatly affected by the fear of loss.
This stems from several perceptions and experiences.
First, she did lose Edward for a time (in a manner of speaking). That experience ranks as worst ever, the worst pain she could possibly imagine or endure. Her fear of his leaving out-terrifies her fear of the vindictive, bloodthirsty Volturi. Though he’s promised not to leave her again, other things threaten their relationship. Mainly, Victoria coming for revenge. Bella holds an irrational fear that Edward will be harmed in a battle with Victoria, or that the other Cullens (even all of them put together) would be harmed, or that Victoria will succeed in killing her and then Edward would kill himself, either way severing their bond. Although Edward reassures her ump-teen times that Victoria alone is no match for him and his family, she frets.
She believes becoming a vampire as soon as possible the best course of action so that she could be more durable and useful in a battle with Victoria as well as eliminate the need for the Volturi to come snooping around, but the fear of losing her humanity also haunts her. Both Edward and Jacob agree on this point and urge her to wait, but their motives are different. Bella is so obsessed, especially with all the talk of newborn vampire armies, with how outrageous with bloodlust she’ll be after her conversion that she rethinks human experiences she’s yet to have that she thinks she must have or forever be without.

Concern with things of the flesh keeps her yearning for Jacob. She’s certain she will lose his friendship as soon as she makes the transformation. Because of the natural feud between vampires and werewolves, she’s already in danger of losing him. Her fear drives her to make decisions in attempts to keep both Jacob and Edward, which ends up hurting everyone.
Fear always skewers perception which messes with beliefs, even deep-seated ones. Fear of loss makes an even bigger impact, like a nuclear explosion instead of a stink bomb.
Fear is a difficult thing to conquer. It strikes when we’re at our most vulnerable. It knows our weak spots. It convinces a threat so real that worry suffocates its victim until hopelessness takes up permanent residence. Even when we think we’ve beaten it, it comes back with a terrible and debilitating force.
Bella has all she needs to face, fight and overcome the fears she’s facing because she’s already won the most important battle. The events concluding New Moon showed her that Edward won’t leave again on his own accord. He loves her unconditionally and forever. She believes him, even. So why isn’t it enough for Bella to fear not?

Love requires more than belief, it requires action. Because she has not made the ultimate choice quite yet, to tie herself to Edward with a Free Will Choice of eternal commitment, that love has not yet won the war on fear.
Similarly, loving our Perfect Lover Jesus requires more than belief that He loves us unconditionally and forever. It requires action on our part in the form of a commitment to be bound to Him in every way. Love and trust go hand in hand. To believe you love and trust someone is far different that acting on that belief. Worry and fear are symptoms of an uncommitted or partially-committed heart. Worrying when God’s Word tells us it is unnecessary and a waste of time shows we don’t really trust Him. (Matt. 6:30-32) Fearing when God’s Word tells us to walk by Faith and not sight proves our love is not complete. (2 Cor. 5:7)

Like Bella, we have the freedom to choose trusting our Perfect Lover with our whole hearts. (Lk. 10:27) Though situations seem dangerous, though people threaten to hurt us, though past experiences leave a residue of fear infecting our thoughts and feelings, we can choose every time to trust our Perfect Lover. It’s called taking our thoughts captive and placing them under the authority of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) Our thoughts can lead us astray because they are vulnerable to fear. But if we crack the whip, take authority over them in Jesus’ Name, we can lock those little buggers away for good! While we ourselves can be free to live in the secure light of our Perfect Lover’s love because perfect love casts out all fear (1 Jn 4:18).
What fears are keeping you from choosing your Perfect Lover wholeheartedly? Are you afraid that He’ll abandon you? Are you worried you won’t be able to keep your friendship with the world, the Other Choice, the competition to your Perfect Lover’s affections? Are you afraid that if you dive into this all-or-nothing relationship, that parts of who you are will die? Afraid of what others will think? Afraid that what your Perfect Lover is telling you isn’t true because it isn’t quite the same as the religious upbringing you remember?
Fear is an untrustworthy source on which to base decisions. While it is an inevitable force influencing the process of choice, it is rarely based on fact. (Guilt is another one of those unreliable forces!) Don’t allow fear to have the last word on your choices. If you do, your Free Will is compromised. Fear enslaves. If for nothing but the sacred preservation of your power of choice, check out a different point of view and allow other influences to put fear on the back burner.
Take the time to observe, for example, someone already living The Better Way.
That’s up next on Dry Ground.
To go to the next chapter, A Living Example, CLICK HERE.