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Laura Nelson ponders a different way to think about one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

No one likes to be afraid. Suspense movies, roller coasters, and haunted houses aside, most of us don’t really want to be afraid. I, for one, certainly don’t like living in fear. 

So, why in the world would I ask the Holy Spirit to give me the “gift” of Fear of the Lord? On the surface, it makes no sense! 

For years the idea of Fear of the Lord as a gift of the Holy Spirit (and not a curse) totally confused me. Why the heck would I want to be afraid? After all, there are a lot of other gifts of the Holy Spirit that are much more appealing to me like Wisdom or Knowledge. But Fear of the Lord? No thank you. 

But, that was before I learned what Fear of the Lord really is. Over time, I learned that Fear of the Lord wasn’t about the fight or flight response. Instead I learned that a better wording of this confusing gift was really “awe and wonder of the Lord.” That sounds a lot more appealing, right? 

Awe and Wonder of the Lord means that we see how great God is and how small and weak we are in comparison. I like to call it the gift that helps us look at God and say “Whoa …!” 


woman standing on a mountaintop


This is a gift that’s easy to lose as you get older. As we gain more knowledge about the world around us, it’s easy to lose our sense of wonder. We can quickly forget the sense of awe that we once had when pondering God and His Creation. We become reasonable and rational and it’s no longer “cool” for us to be overwhelmed at God’s greatness. If you’re one of the lucky ones, maybe you haven’t lost it, but I bet you don’t show it off to just anybody. After all, we don’t want people to think we’re simple or unsophisticated, do we? 

In my work with the children of my parish, I try to cultivate and nurture the gift of wonder that the children already have been given. Together, we ponder God, His Creation, His Kingdom, and His Son in a way that helps us all grow in awe of God and His love for us. We read God’s Word and ponder the depths of their meaning and how amazing His love for us is. And, the more we ponder, the more we grow in wonder. 

While I’m still not a big fan of the word “fear” used to describe this gift of the Holy Spirit, I certainly desire it a lot more than I ever did. In fact, it may be my favorite one. 

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Have you ever thought about Fear of the Lord in terms of awe and wonder? #catholicmom

Have you ever thought about Fear of the Lord in terms of awe and wonder? Maybe you’ve been filled with the Fear of the Lord when in the presence of a particularly beautiful part of God’s creation. Thank the Holy Spirit for giving you that gift and cultivate it by pondering any aspect of God. You might find that you not only grow in awe and wonder but also in love.


2 little girls looking at a sunny field

Copyright 2021 Laura Nelson
Images: Canva Pro