Fear and the Path to the Dark Side

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I finally got to see The Force Awakens this weekend. FINALLY!!! I’d been looking forward to it for so long and in preparation for the newest episode, I decided to watch all six prequels. Yep, I am that person. Like many people my age, I’m no stranger to the Star Wars franchise. Thanks to parents who were teenagers in the 70s, they have long had a place in many of our hearts. But while watching the original films recently, I found myself thinking on some Yoda wisdom in a way I hadn’t before. As many fans might recall, while training Luke Skywalker as a Jedi, Yoda counsels him that “the fear of loss is the path to the dark side.” He then cautions him that attachment leads jealousy and the Jedi way is to learn to let go of everything you fear to lose. His words struck me because there are MANY things I fear to lose. And all of what I fear to lose, I do so because of love. If I love something, why on earth would I want to learn to let it go? I want to hold the things I love as close to me as possible! Then a horrible thought came to my mind: Does this mean I will never have what it takes to become a Jedi?!?
Of course, I couldn’t stand the thought. So I continued to process Yoda’s words further. And as I did, the truth in them became clearer. There is a level of irrationality that plagues our brains when we feel afraid. And just like Anakin Skywalker, if we sense we are in danger of losing something we love (or someone), many of us start making decisions out of fear and grasp at every option we can find that promises to save our love. Even if those options are dangerous. I can relate to this all too well. I have feared losing something I loved so much, I made bad decisions, threw out my integrity, and found myself moving into darkness. I clung, I rationalized, I begged, all in the name of love. But in the end, all I did was make a mess. I’m not a parent, but I could see how loving a child and the fear of losing them could cause parents to act overly-protective or anxious, even to the point of unintentionally harming themselves or the child. People in careers they love are guilty of finding themselves in these situations as well, sometimes comprising their morals just to keep moving toward their ambitions.
So given these scenarios, Yoda’s advice starts to make more sense, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” But taking that advice at face value isn’t quite complete. The answer isn’t to let go by stopping our love or losing our attachment, but instead recognize that the things and people we love are gifts from God and we must trust them to Him. We should never turn away from love just to remain fearless. King Arthur in the movie First Knight tells Lancelot that “a man who fears nothing, loves nothing; and if you love nothing what joy is there in your life?” So here is where I find wisdom in Jedi advice – let’s cherish the things we love, but hold onto them with relaxed arms instead of tight fists. Blessings will come in and out of our lives and we can love each of them tremendously while at the same time understand this world is flawed and we will experience loss. The fear of this loss can draw us to the dark side, but prayer and the power of God’s word can bring us back into the light. His perfect love drives out all fear. And when the time comes that we lose something we love (because all of us will), God is and will always be there reminding us that we will never lose him. He is the force that holds us together. And may that force always be with you.

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