How can I do this? What if I fail? What if I die? Fearful thoughts swirled across every corner of Queen Esther’s mind. Images of the powerful king on his throne appeared in her mind making her feel dizzy. He hadn’t called on her in days. Weeks. It was against the law to approach him without being summoned and she felt a pit in her stomach.
In her mind’s eye, she saw herself taking the long walk down the king’s corridor to possible death. Her heart was pounding and the room began to spin. Esther felt overpowered by fear and waves of panic swept through her body. She gasped for air and her legs threatened to buckle beneath her.
The fear felt all consuming, but Esther had enough awareness to see that the fear was just a part of her. She exhaled and let the waves of fear rise and fall around her. This fear is a part of me, it’s not all of me, she reminded herself. She knew from prior experience that she could access a place of calm inside herself and speak to the fear from there. She paused for a moment, inhaled and began to address the fear.
Esther: (Trembling, hand on chest) Fear, I feel you in my pounding heart and weak legs. I’m seeing all these scary images.
Fear: I’m frightened. This is terrifying!
Esther: (feeling pain in her chest) Yes. It’s frightening.
Fear: I’m afraid you’ll die!
Esther: (shuddering) It makes sense that you’re so afraid.
Esther, Queen of Persia, was faced with the daunting decision of whether or not to approach the king in an attempt to save her nation. The king’s advisor Haman had plotted to kill and annihilate them. She was urged by her cousin Mordechai to go to the king and beseech him to save her people, the Jewish people. However, arriving uninvited to the king was punishable by death.
Courage involves deliberate choice in the face of fearful or fatal circumstances. Esther could not predict the success or failure of this undertaking but she knew she couldn’t hide from this by closing her eyes. She asked Mordechai to gather the Jews and declare three days of fasting and prayer to aid in her mission. She then stated these famous words “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law and if I perish, I perish.”
I cannot imagine having to stand in Esther’s shoes, but if I did have a sneak peek into the queen’s role at the time, it might have looked like this:
Breathing deeply, Esther turned her focus inward. She began to connect with the fear and validate it. She did not dismiss it. When she held inner conversations before, it felt odd at first, but when she connected with parts of herself, she learned about their positive intentions.
Once these parts of herself felt understood and appreciated by her they were able to separate from her. Esther knew what to do. She would reach out her hand and offer the fear a safe place to land. She allowed her breath to guide her inside, help her locate the fear in her body, focus on it and speak to it directly.
Esther: Fear, I want you to know that I’m here with you.
Fear: You’re here? I feel like it’s my job to protect you and I am feeling so alone.
Esther: (feeling compassion) That’s so hard. I’m here. I can help.
Fear: I’m not sure if you can.
Esther: I want to help. It’s hard for me to be present when you take over. Would you be willing to separate from me a little so I can help you?
Fear: (downcast eyes) It sounds like you want to get rid of me.
Esther: I’m not trying to get rid of you. If you overwhelm me there is no room for me to be here with you.
Fear: (hesitant) You won’t leave me?
Esther: I won’t leave you. I’m here and you’ll be here too. Imagine that you are just taking a step back.
Fear: (exhales) Okay.
Esther: (feeling less tension in her body) Good. I’m right next to you. No matter what happens I’ll be here with you.
Esther: (feeling more curiosity towards the fear) Tell me more about what you are trying to do for me.
Fear: I keep watch and remain alert. I take over to let you know and feel that danger is here.
Esther: That must be so tiring.
Fear: Yes, I feel exhausted but someone has to stand guard and sound the alarm.
Esther: I understand that you are doing this all to protect me. I appreciate how hard you’re trying to keep me safe.
Fear: I’m glad you get it.
Esther: Tell me, what are you afraid would happen if you didn’t work so hard?
Fear: You might get hurt or die.
Esther: I get that. It sounds like you’re stuck in a bind. So exhausted, yet so vigilant. So tired, yet so determined.
Fear: I take this job very seriously.
Esther: What would be helpful for you right now?
Fear: I feel so alone. I need to know that you can handle this. Can you?
Esther: (feeling more hopeful) Yes. I’ll do my best in this difficult situation. I will handle it. You’re not alone and you can trust me.
Fear: (lets out a sigh of relief) Okay.
Esther: What would you rather do if you didn’t have to work so hard, feel so burdened?
Fear: (yawns) I’d much rather rest, take a break.
Esther: That makes sense. You’ve been working overtime.
Fear: Okay. I’ll let you lead.
Esther: Good. Thank you for trusting me. I’ll lead the way.
Fear: Thank you Esther.
Esther sensed the shift in her body. She felt lighter, her breathing improved, and her heart rate steadied. She was back on dry land. She could feel a calmer, more compassionate presence inside herself that she knew was coming from her essence, her neshama. This was the place from where a symphony of positive qualities flourished. With every inhale, she accessed more faith, courage, and clarity.
I’m not alone, Hashem is with me, Esther told herself. She could feel God’s embrace. Embodying courage and strength, and with a prayer on her lips, she ventured further. With every step forward, her resolve strengthened. She was determined to save the lives of her people.
As I think about my own life, I cannot help but relate to feeling overcome with great fear at times. Simultaneously, I am reminded by Queen Esther’s courage, faith and other strengths, that I have these inside me too. We all do. Other parts and perspectives within me might be covering up my innate qualities. These parts are not bad, they are just hurting or confused and have well intentioned efforts. When I acknowledge and connect with them, inner harmony is possible. From that place, I can proceed onward and it changes everything.