As I was growing up, I often had vivid dreams which I would recount at the breakfast table. There was one recurring dream which I remember to this day, at least a small piece of it and the message it delivered to my soul:      I was in a large castle with an upstairs hallway that was open to the downstairs, wrapping around and overlooking a large room below. I was running down this hallway, being chased by a witch who I feared would kill me! Then I remembered that I could escape the dream by stopping and curling up in a ball with my head tucked into my chest. So I did this, trembling as the witch closed in on me, and just in the nick of time I woke up! Safe and sound in my bed. Whew! I’m sure my heart was still pounding, as it does to this day when I awaken from a bad dream.

I knew that my deliverance came from remembering. I just had to remember that (1) it was a dream, and (2) I had the power to wake myself up. This lesson has taken on a broader meaning for me as I have grown older and deepened my spiritual understanding. So much of what we fear in this life isn’t real, isn’t true, and/or doesn’t have the power to defeat us. There is a familiar acronym for FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear has many disguises and tricks that we may not recognize, and they trap us in their snares. Just as the witch in my dream appeared as a real threat to me, I had to move through my fear before I could awaken to truth and discover my power. After running (moving), I had to remember and trust enough to stop and draw myself inward. There my power was activated, and I woke up, realizing I had never actually been in danger.

One of my favorite devotionals, God Calling, has a message about fear that I’ve carried with me for years: Fear destroys Hope. It cannot exist where Love is, or where Faith is. … No work that employs this enemy of Mine is work for Me. Fear and Love cannot co-exist. We always have a choice. We can unveil fear by learning to recognize its many faces and facades. Sadly, religion and politics often employ fear in the name of God and/or country to exert power and control. These tactics may be subtle or overt, leading people to believe they are safe and secure in the “stronghold” that fear creates. It is like the castle in my dream, inhabited by a witch that keeps us running from the truth. Fear weakens and paralyzes us, individually and collectively, while Love strengthens and empowers us. When we wake up to the Love that we are, fear is stopped in its tracks, unable to harm or hinder us.

Universal truths are principles that empower and enlighten us, freeing us from the falsehoods of fear. One such truth is that God is only Love, and we are one with God. I recently heard author and speaker Mike Dooley say that this whole adventure of life is taking place inside the heart of God. It can’t go wrong; you are totally safe and one with God. In the Bible, it says that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38). We are divine beings, but we forget. In forgetting, we lose touch with the divinity that is wrapped in our humanity. We get caught in the illusion that we are separate from God and each other. We fail to realize that every person is included in the unconditional Love of God. We are easily tricked by fear, believing that people, circumstances, politics, and our past history have power over us. We learn to fear what we don’t understand. We fear the unknown. We create walls that make us feel safe but end up trapping us in darkness and despair. How can we begin to break down these walls and experience freedom?

First, open the windows! This will let more light and air into our castle, or our consciousness. We can learn to welcome new ideas, perspectives, and experiences. These add oxygen to our lives by expanding our minds and hearts. They widen our view and increase our capacity to love. Before long we will start opening the doors and letting people in. As we awaken to a larger reality in which Love encompasses everything, our sense of separateness will begin to dissolve. Fear will be exposed as the thief that it is – the thief of peace, unity, joy and freedom. When we do encounter something that seems scary or threatening, we will remember more quickly to turn within, gather our power, and wake up! Our awakening will cause a vibration that stirs those around us to awaken a little more. Here in the Heart of God – like the bed in which I woke up safe – all is well, all are one, and fear has no power.

When my daughter was a toddler, I would tuck her in at night with these words, “You are safe, you are loved, you are free.” One night, she sat straight up in bed and said, “No, Mommy! I’m two! I won’t be free until January!” She knew that was her next birthday when she would turn three. We have laughed about that ever since. Children are so close to God; they give us glimpses of the divine. We all need reminders of our innate wholeness, wisdom, and strength. It is an awareness that we grow into as we live this adventure with open hearts and minds, choosing Love at every turn.