Do you hold yourself back? Are you getting all you can out of life? Are you allowing yourself to be blessed?
Or are you letting opportunities and joy slip by you?
Interestingly, during one near-death account, a woman named Jessica who by the standards of paramedics "died" in a car accident described how, as she passed, in reviewing her life, the Lord not only showed her transgressions, but things that -- through fear, or indecisiveness, or rigidity (so common these days) -- she failed to do; things that would have brought her more happiness.
"My life review just appeared, and I could feel a Presence, an angel, something that was very loving. It was like an amphitheatre and you are watching this life review. It's all simultaneous -- you see it all simultaneously. I saw that I had made some choices that I could have made better in my life. I died at 27. There was the life review and then the place of contemplation I was sent to. It was a place where there was darkness as you contemplated things and I thought, 'No, no! I could have done so much more with my life, and a lot of it was joy.
"I could have had so much more joy -- things I could have done. I had an opportunity to go on an excursion. 'No, I have to work.' But I could have done that! The joy of my personality; the joy of who I am; I hadn't chosen that when I was alive.
"Then it was back to the amphitheatre and the life review begins again. Now I saw the life I would have lived [if joy had been chosen, and opportunities taken]. And it was so nice; it was so much fun. The people I was meeting, the things I was doing. It was, 'Wow. Wow.' It was: going to the beach; it was: going on different travels; believing in myself.
"Laughing. Hiking to the top of a mountain.
"Seeing how gorgeous the ocean was."
Had she chosen many opportunities she'd been offered, she would not have "needed" the accident, she believes, to progress spiritually. (Not to play on words, sometimes illness and "tragedy" are "crash" courses in spirituality. Tragedies are only tragedies when we learn nothing; when there is no progress.)
The more you use gifts the more gifts are given.
Do we accept every word, every syllable, of alleged near-death episodes? We do not -- no more than we do the many reputed apparitions and locutions. It is for discernment. We all have flaws (especially in interpretation )! And all of us will find certain surprises on the "other side." The narrow gate is Catholicism. But let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater: Who knows everything about the afterlife? (The answer: no living human, despite pretense.)
Now, this isn't to say that we should focus overly on self or pleasure. In fact, we must care as much about others -- serve others -- as much or more than we do ourselves: love others as we love ourselves, instructs the Word.
However, before we accept others, we often must lovingly accept ourselves.
Do you? Do you accept who God made you to be? The journey He chose for you?
Meanwhile, life involves suffering. Period. We are to take up a cross each day.
But that means resurrection and that means we have to love ourselves to begin with -- to see ourselves as Jesus does (or try to: it is otherwise difficult to love others).
What holds us back?
There's always an excuse for not forging ahead!
Life on earth often entails trials (sufferings) -- but even these become joy when handled in the proper way, and open up opportunity, here or in the hereafter.
Not every alleged near-death experience toes a doctrinal line. Remember Sadducees and Pharisees?
Such experiences are always submitted for our discernment.
We take what is good -- what feels right -- and leave the rest (or we leave the whole thing, if we are so certain that it is all off-base).
But here too we can deprive ourselves, when we are too narrow-minded; too rigid; too judgmental. Rigidity causes things to break. Pope Francis began the global Catholic Church's celebration of the days leading to Easter with a call on Holy Thursday for people to "break out of our set ways" to be more merciful towards others and told priests they have sometimes become blind to God's Will "because of an excess of complicated theology."
Do we disregard a person because he is Protestant, or Jewish, or Hindu, or Mormon, or whatever? Do we discount the experience of a fellow human because he or she likes something or someone we don't -- has a different opinion? Or interpretation?
Or do we see every person and challenge as an opportunity to love.
Therein -- with love -- comes the greatest joy, the greatest opportunity, one we will see in a life review, no matter our circumstances.
Be open to what God offers you and you will be blessed. And you will bless others.
When you do that, when you seek love, when you develop purity -- true inner humbleness; grasping right opportunities; living life to the fullest -- you lose fear of death.