Dear You: A Letter on Fear and Love

Dear You: A Letter on Fear and Love

By Kimberly Phinney

Not long ago I wrote a letter to a very special person in my life. And, yes, I still write letters. What can I say? I’m an old soul, and letter-writing is still—in my humble opinion—one of the truest ways to tell someone that they mean something to you.

Letters live on long after your memory can recall what it is you ever said. For me, the letters I’ve been given over the course of my life are some of my most precious possessions. Those letters tell me that I know someone who is brave and thoughtful, and they tell me that I—in some small or large way—was worthy of their bravery and thoughtfulness. Wow.

I also love letters because writing allows me to overcome my introversion. With letters, I can say exactly what it is I need to say without blushing the deepest shade of red… or crying. And trust me when I say this: I am one of those ugly criers. I possess not an ounce of grace or control when I cry. I mainly just go for it, which means I’m totally unhinged and I embarrass people. So letter-writing allows me to do everything I love to do—write and love people—as well as avoid the things I hate the most, like crying and scaring innocent bystanders.

Here’s one more thing about letter writing: Sometimes you may know where to start, but you have no idea where you are going. It’s sort of like life, isn’t it? It’s a beautiful, amorphous thing we can’t control but we show up for IT anyway.

I can’t begin to enumerate how many times I have sat down to write with only a feeling—whether it be love, nostalgia, or sadness—and finished with an epiphany that even I didn’t know I had access to.

That epiphany has been about all kinds of things, but each time it has required me to sit down and write so that I could arrive at it. And because it’s a letter, that epiphany isn’t mine alone. It’s a gift I give to someone else.

But sometimes—like right now—letter-writing is a gift you accidentally give yourself.

It is that very gift I want to share. That letter I wrote for a very special person, in some ways, wrote itself. I was just a simple conduit, channeling some larger understanding of the Universe. And when I was done I witnessed an urgent message beyond myself.

When that happens, the words seem so right, and you simply cannot take credit for them. Those words were telling my very special person things she needed to know… Things she deserved to believe. Things she had a right to claim. But you know what? Those words weren’t just for her. In many ways I was writing that letter to myself, telling my heart something she needed to know, too.

Things she deserves to finally believe.

Things she has a right to claim.

And that letter goes a little something like this:

Dear You,

…There is something far more important I hope I have taught you or helped you teach yourself, and it’s about fear and love. Fear is the opposite of love. Fear eradicates every good emotion we are meant to experience in this life. It’s a powerful motivator, sadly. Fear erects our own glass ceilings. It limits our expansiveness in this world, and it is the best liar I know. So much of what we go through— in life and with our internal turmoil—is driven by fear. We don’t love ourselves because of fear. We don’t dance because of fear. We fear judgment. We fear loneliness. We fear rejection. We fear the unknown. And most of all, we fear insignificance.

But there is a powerful antidote, and it’s love: a deeply-centered love for yourself, a powerful belief in God’s endless love, and the acceptance of the love you deserve from your friends and family. I want you to choose love. I really think that’s just about the answer to any question life is going to ask you. CHOOSE LOVE. What I want the most for you is to know this love so deeply that any fear will shrink away in its presence. Love is enough. You are enough. God is enough. When you tremble, close your eyes and choose love. When you feel a crushing sensation from the unknown, breathe deeply and choose love. When the tears are too much to handle, get quiet and choose love.

That’s what I want for you, and that’s because I feel like you know so much about so many things… that anything else I might tell you would be too superficial. If you have a rough moment, read this. If you need reminding, read this. If you feel homesick, read this. And if it’s not enough, call on me.  

… I have no doubt in my mind that whatever you do—if you stay true to yourself and keep God at the center—will be a masterpiece… Love every part of yourself. Accept it and nurture it. It’s the most important relationship you will ever have here on Earth.

You have been a blessing in my life, and I cannot wait to see your masterpiece. It’s going to be beautiful.

There, on the page before me, were little epiphanies about love and fear and life. There they were: hundreds of words I strung together but still struggled to fully know and still do as I learn to be brave in relationships… as I learn to accept the past… as I let go of things I can never have… as I chase down a new career path… as I write myself onto the pages of novels and poetry…

My knees are trembling at each step now, but I keep walking. I need to read my letter’s words. I need to eat them and keep them inside of me. Because, as you know, there is nothing scarier than walking into the great, wide beyond without a clue about what comes next.

But we cannot, no matter what, let fear stop us from walking. WE MUST CHOOSE LOVE INSTEAD.

We must walk into the great beyond physically.

We must walk into the great beyond emotionally.

We must walk into the great beyond spiritually.

And we must walk into the great beyond for ourselves.

And why? Because we will not allow our lives to be dominated by fear. We deserve to finally believe. We have a right to claim our dreams. WE WILL CHOOSE LOVE INSTEAD.

One inspirational writer, Les Brown, wrote this about our limitations with fear: “The graveyard is the richest place on earth because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dream that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, and the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step…”

There isn’t a more sobering thought. The price of fear is grand, and fear will rob you of every good thing you deserve. So we must take our first steps and then keep walking.

And when the liar that fear is comes nipping at our heels, WE WILL CHOOSE LOVE INSTEAD.


Because LOVE, my friends, is the ANTIDOTE.

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