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Posts Tagged ‘Fear.’

When I was a child, I thought that to be brave was to go in my room and night, and actually look under my bed to see if there were monsters there.

When I was a teen, I thought that to be brave was walking home alone, in the quiet dark, after a night of babysitting.

When I was a young adult, I thought that to be brave was to stay home alone when my hubby went out of town.

Brave has many faces, but on each face a fear of something, known or unknown, is written. The fears of childhood are the foundation for the fears of the rest of our lives. If I re-read my own expressions of what it was to be brave when I was younger, they are all centered on two fears; fear of the dark, and fear of being alone.

I believe that they are universal fears, I believe they are innate fears. I believe the
two fears are really one fear, for to be afraid of the dark is always diminished by
being in the presence of another.

From when we are born, we experience times alone. From our earliest beginnings in our mother’s womb, we experience dark. Yet those two fears go with us, and in some, intensify as we get older.

There is something about nighttime that can cause doubts, discomfort and fears to arise more easily. Add to that being alone, and the night can seem endless and hopeless.

For a child, being taken to bed, being tucked in, being reassured by a loving person that they are safe and that the nighttime will not last forever, can lessen their fear of the dark. If that does not work, having someone to accompany them in the dark, until they fall off to sleep will eliminate any further cries of fear.

For myself, as an adult, I hear far fewer noises, I sleep far easier, when hubby is in the house with me. His presence assures me that I am not alone, and the dark no longer has power over me.

If we are to be brave, we need to understand that the presence of another can be the light that takes away our fear of the dark, because their presence itself is like a light.

God’s message to us all in Isaiah 42:16 is “I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Whenever we think that we are alone, we need to remember that the One who never breaks His promises to us, is with us. Him in our lives means we are never fully alone, and the darkness is eliminated by the light of his presence.

Plato said, “we can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” The light of the world has come to illuminate our steps, he is like that parent by the bed of a fearful child, the friend walking you home in the dark, the person on the other side of the bed (snoring like a band saw), but He never leaves those who choose to brave and trust the presence of his light.

“Fear is the path to the dark side.”
Yoda



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One of the most common disorders for adolescents, and increasing in numbers affected, is anxiety.

According to Free Dictionary, anxiety is everything from “uneasiness caused by fear … to apprehension or worry accompanied by physical symptoms common in mental illness or following a distressing experience.”

Anxiety is part of being human. At an early age, when a mother or father leave their child with someone else, and the child experiences the anxiety of separation from those parents who represent safety and security for them. This may produce tears, screaming and death-grip holds on mom and dad.

Anxiety commonly also can occur during the stage of night terrors (nightmares), starting school, moving, death of a loved one, divorce of parents, an upcoming test/exam, a trip, a marriage, an illness and on, and on.

Children with anxiety disorders are missing out on school, on friendships, on life experiences, because they are filled and dominated by fears. 

What is it that has caused the increase in anxiety of children, to the point of being diagnosed with a disorder?

Some claim it is violent video games, addictive use of social media, sexualization of children, and/or the breakdown of the family. All of those things can certainly contribute to feelings of anxiety.

Whatever the reason, the problem is before us, as parents, as people who work in schools and churches and places of recreation. 

So, what can we do for someone in our life who has (or may be silently dealing with) anxiety and fear? 

Be kind.

It may seem like an oversimplified response, and kindness does not dissolve fears and anxiety, but it really can help. 

The thing about kindness is that it can let someone know that they have been noticed, that they matter. Kindness can make someone feel good, make them smile. To receive kindness is to receive an unexpected, often unmerited gift. Kindness can give hope to one who may not feel there is any hope. Kindness can provide comfort, consolation.

Kindness is not the cure, but it might be a little remission from the fears that dominate.

 

 

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Working in a high school, I have come to see the various stages of realization that high school is coming to an end, with the celebrations surrounding graduation.

In the past month, I have noted the indicators that fear is setting in with many of the grade twelve students.

Common, graduation-related stressors could be:

  • I don’t know what to do, after high school.
  • Did I apply to the right school? program?
  • All of my friends are going ‘away’ next year.
  • How will I pay for my education?
  • Where will I live next year?
  • What does life look like, after graduation?
  • What if I don’t get into the school/program that I’m hoping to attend?
  • What am I going to do with my life?

With each stressor, comes a response. Sometimes the response is action, but, often for teens (and many others), the reaction is inaction … frozen in one place, immovability … kind of like when one is trying to wake them, on a school day.

These young adults are awakening to the realization that what they have known for twelve years is coming to an end. That life, as they know it, is about to change.

They are anxious, fearful.

The Bible says much about fear and anxiety … mostly in the form of

“do not …”

God is constantly offering himself as the antibiotic for fear and anxiety. He wants us to lean on Him, because when we lean on ourselves, our foundation will not build us up, but let us fall.

What an opportunity, then during the graduation season, to help lead them to the best source of strength?

A few years ago, I had a great realization, while reading Proverbs 3:5:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
do not depend on your own understanding.”

Really it was another scripture telling me do not fear, do not be anxious, but it was even more than that. For me, this verse was reminding me that I am not able to understand, to see the happenings in my life, in that vast way that God is able. It reminded me that I need to submit to the fact that “all that I know is partial and incomplete” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

The things in life that can leave us fearful and feel anxious, could better be viewed not through the the magnifying glass of us, but the view from space that God has.

When it comes to graduation from high school, college or university, the major decisions that need to be made need to be viewed as small as they really are … they are not decisions for their whole lives, but for the next year. The changes that come may indeed rock their world, but, if they can be reminded to hold on to the One who knows how it will all fit together, they might be able to wait with anticipation and excitement, to see what God will do with the changes in their lives.

 

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My son and I were discussing last evening, summer break is about to reach it’s midsection. With that realization, we both started expressing what still needed to be done, enjoyed and experienced so as to squeeze everything out of this summer. I could feel my heart quicken as my mental ‘to do’ list was growing. Then I remembered that summer was not just about recreation but relaxation as well.

Last summer was a bust for me. The moment I began to rest, my body decided to stop. It was as though all the energy reserves dried up and I was physically lifeless. So I vowed that this summer would be different. I had check-ups and blood tests. I have been eating well, getting ample sleep, and taking my vitamins. I also have been staying busy with home renovations, painting furniture, working in the garden. I have not really sat still yet, with little TV or movie watching, a book barely started, and only a handful of walks out in nature. This summer has been delightfully productive … but, not restful.

Then twice last week I said, out loud that we would not be going to our favorite west coast beach this summer, and twice I sobbed. You see for years our return to that beach meant stepping onto the sand, facing the horizon, and an immediate exhaling of all of the stresses of the year. Our week there was rest and refreshment for our dry and weary souls.

This year, we will need to find a new source of refreshment and rest. This will not be easy for me, as I struggle to stop when I can see work that needs to be done … I struggle with not being productive. I struggle with a fear that being still will cause my energy to dry up and leave me lifeless.

The following guest post, by Anna Rendell, at (in)courage, called On Blinking Cursors and New Pathways, spoke to the need to be still, and what might be found in the desert places of our lives.

“My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down. My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down. My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down.My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down.

I have no next move. I’m totally empty, utterly spent, not a word to be found in my brain or heart or fingers.

But the cursor doesn’t know that, and demands to march on. I half-heartedly clack away at the keys, flailing wildly for any thought that might make sense outside of my own head. I am sure none of them do. This heart that has always penned its feelings is dry, chalkboard dust all that remains of words. There’s been no great catastrophe, nothing life-altering to make my heart shrivel. I’m simply weary with the daily, the diapers and too-fast days and spilled juice, meetings and deadlines and full squares on the calendar.

There’s no room to just be and I am drying up.

Feeling dried up scares me. How am I supposed to teach my children, write blog posts, lead a devotion in my MOPS group, if I am running on fumes myself? A re-fueling of my heart seems impossible because there’s no time to go sit in a quiet sanctuary, on a dock at a lake, in a field of wildflowers. The perfect setting is fleeting. This is real life, people, and real life is messy and full of blinking cursors. Real life is loud, and I think I’m afraid that if I stop and be still, underneath the chatter, there won’t be anything worth saying. I forget that He calls us to stillness, to a deep sense of calm. That He speaks most clearly when I am most quiet. That even in my dryness, He shines clear.

When we are most dried up, He is able to do some of His finest work.

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
– Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)

Those verses make me shiver with anticipation. Real life forces us to be still and know despite the dryness we feel. Our hearts may be covered in a thick coating of dust. We may be scared – to speak, to write, to be still. We may not see the new works, the new pathways, the rivers flowing. We may see nothing but wasteland from the horizon to horizon of our lives.

Even then, He is at work creating. In us and for us, He is working. And in spite of the blinking cursor and volume of our real life noise, we can be still and know that to be truth.”

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the first post in a series, about a woman named Amara. It started as an idea for a short story, and it grew as I grew to love this fictional character. There are 20 parts on my site (linked at the bottom of each segment). This summer I have been re-posting from my first year of blogging, so as to avail my writing time to working on the completion of this story, hopefully in book form. I’d love to know what you think.
CW

As Amara sat behind the steering wheel of her car she got increasingly frustrated.

She looked around her empty front passenger seat for clues as to why she might have driven to this professional building, in the middle of her small town. She could not remember why she drove there, all that she could remember was steering her Oldsmobile into this parking lot. It was as if in turning her wheels towards the lot, her purpose for being there had disappeared completely from her memory.

She tried to look around, hoping to see if something around her might twig her memory as to why she had driven there. Nothing sparked her memory.

Maybe if she retraced her steps, but all she could remember was the moment her front tires turned into this parking lot. ‘Oh, what is happening to me? I cannot even remember any other part of my day, and here it is already eleven in the morning!’ The last thing that Amara could remember was climbing into her bed the night before.

That memory was vivid. The striped bedsheets had felt cool on her skin, as she had climbed into her side of the bed. Her side of the bed … after almost ten years of living without him, she still had her own side of the bed. She started every night there, and she would awaken in the morning, never having passed the invisible center line of the mattress. Once, having given herself a talking to, she purposefully lay in the very middle of the bed … and awoke the next morning where she always awoke, on her side of the bed.

As she pondered thoughts of him Amara’s anxious heart ached for his presence, for his companionship, for his wisdom and laughter in frustrating circumstances like this one. He had a way of seeing a lighter side to the tough stuff of life, and he had a way of lightening any anxiety that she was feeling.

But, he was not here with her, and Amara sat feeling more and more frightened. She wanted to let the tears that were filling her eyes fall down her cheeks, but that would be ludicrous for a woman of seventy-two crying like a baby where anyone could see her.

There must be a sensible reason for this odd bout of forgetfulness …

Unfading – Part 2

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Do You Love Me?

There are stories in the Bible I love and have read, and studied over and over. One is the interaction between Simon Peter and Jesus.

“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,“Do you love me?”

He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

John 21 15-19

For me Jesus question, “do you love me?” could equally be asked, “do you love me, MOST?”

There have been many times when I have been challenged to love Jesus more than anything, more than anyone, in my life. But, there was one night (a few years ago), when, I believe, the challenge came from God. And I believe I even heard His voice … maybe not with my ears, but certainly with my heart.

It was to be a great evening! I was taking my daughter and her friends to a concert, and I got to go to a movie, of MY choosing, all alone! Oh, the bliss! There would be no princess, no space creatures, no war story. No, I was going to go to a chick flick, eat far too much popcorn (with butter), and NOT have to take a single person to ‘pee’ just when the story was getting good.

I went to the theater, just down the street from the concert venue. I ate immense amounts of buttery popcorn. I laughed. I cried. And I sighed. I left feeling girlie-good! So I rolled into my van (feeling the effects of immense amounts of buttery popcorn), and steered away from the theater, towards the concert venue.

Hum, I wondered, should I go shopping? No, the stores were about to close. Maybe a coffee shop? No, there was no place in my body for any more ingesting. Maybe ‘hang out’ at the grocery store? Seriously, you know you are old and lead a boring life when you actually, seriously, consider spending your Friday night ‘hanging out’ at a grocery store. Can we say, LAME?! (And all of this self-questioning happened in mere moments).

As I approached the concert venue I was amazingly, inwardly compelled to drive into the venue parking lot, by ‘something’ that seemed to be communicating to me, ‘you need to be there’. And, so, I went.

Then I parked and thought, now what? I knew it would be over an hour until the concert would be over. Heck, I thought, the headlining group was probably just starting. Hum, thought my conniving mind, I bet I could just walk in to the concert, and enjoy the headlining group … for FREE (Scottish heritage … oh, ya, baby!). And once ‘free’ was part of this idea there would be no backing down.

So, I walked into the venue, the church, where the concert was happening. I was able to walk right up to where the concert was in full gear. The place was packed! I stood just inside the doorway, watching and listening. A modern hymn of praise was being sung, being shouted, to Hosanna in the highest.

I stood there, thanking God that people use their gifts from Him to honor the Giver of those gifts. And that God would use those people, those gifts to open up this generation’s eyes to the things unseen. It was a ‘solo in a crowd’ praise party for me.

Then the second song began. It was rockier, and the crowd in there were having a blast!

And then …

Something up front fell … ‘I hope it didn’t hit anyone (my daughter)’

The music stopped … ‘It must have hurt someone (my daughter?)’

Noises of chaos, and people moving, climbing, back over pews … ‘God, don’t let it be my daughter’

DO YOU LOVE ME … ?

‘Huh? Of course I love you. But where is my daughter?’

A fire alarm was sounding … ‘This isn’t good. Where is my daughter?’

People were exiting the building, from all exits … orderly, quietly … ‘What is going on? Where is my daughter?’

I started to move forward, into the sanctuary … it didn’t feel like sanctuary. I turned around, and walked out.

I noticed people, running down a stairway. I walked towards the stairs, and (so hesitantly) down the stairs, not knowing where they would lead me. I saw people rushing into a room, a hall. I saw people lying on the floor, and others attending to them. They were HURT! … ‘is my daughter in there?’

DO YOU LOVE ME … MORE?

‘What? You are asking that NOW? … Oh, what are you asking me? What are you asking of me? Please … please don’t take my daughter … But … yes … yes I do love you more …’

I started to move forward, into the room … there didn’t seem to be … room, for me. I turned around, and walked out.

I walked back up the stairs.

‘Please, please help me find my daughter. Wherever she is, please help me find her.’

YOUR CELL PHONE

(I do not remember that line from John’s gospel!) I pulled my cell phone from my bag, confused as to how it could lead me to my daughter. Then I remembered! My daughter had used my cell phone to call one of her friends who had not showed up, just before the others went into the church, for the concert. Maybe, that number would be on my phone, and, maybe if I called it, I could find my daughter.

I searched the recent calls … it was there! … ‘thank-you’

I dialed, and the call was answered by her friend … ‘thank-you’

Then, reality. What if the answers she had for me were not what I wanted? Could I hear that?

DO YOU LOVE ME … MOST?

Do I love you … most? Oh, but, you asked me that of my first child. And that child never took it’s first breath. But, you did hear my cry, and gave again. But, she is only 15, was she only ‘on loan’? Oh, right, they are all only on loan. They … she is your child before she is my daughter. YOU love HER most …

Yes, my Lord … I do love you … most … and, her life … I leave it in your hands …

I took a deep breath. There were three of the seven together just outside (I was still in the building, still just outside the sanctuary … so far from sanctuary). And, my daughter? No, she was not with them.

I rushed to those three, who I barely knew, and hugged them. And I felt the strength return to my wobbly legs, as I realized that, I could hold them, support them, and comfort them, as their moms would, if they were there.

Another girl arrived shortly after … hugs, tears, questions … answers? The floor … fell?

One of the girl’s sister had been there … where the floor … was.

And my daughter? The newest of the group saw her at the other side of the church … ‘thank-you, thank-you, thank-you’

I walked … right? I rushed, with the concerned sister, to where we were told my daughter was.

As we moved forward, with sounds of sirens, road closures, emergency personal absolutely everywhere, It felt surreal, like I was walking, living through, a dream. A very bad dream.

Then, right in front of me … ‘thank-you, thank-you, thank-you’

And I held my daughter … with an understanding of thanksgiving that I had not felt, since the day she was born.

‘thank-you’

Another girl was with her … hugs, tears, questions …

Soon after with found the missing sister.

I drove them all home.

Reunions … hugs, tears, questions …

But, that night, the questions  for me were  …

DO YOU LOVE ME?

DO YOU LOVE ME … MORE?

DO YOU LOVE ME … MOST?

And my ultimate answer?

Yes, I love you … the most, and I will follow you, to the corners of the earth.

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As I watched the new parents walk from the hospital in London, my eyes were fixed, not to the baby, not to Prince William, but to Kate.

Kate had just been through the most physically and emotionally stressful event of her life, since her own birth.

It is such an emotional, such an overwhelming thing to have just delivered your first baby. The physical, emotional and psychological changes that occur surrounding a birth can leave a new mom with a bit of an out-of-body feeling.

Since Kate first appeared on the public scene the word that most accurately describes her public persona would be confident. She has smiled when she was supposed to, stood tall with her head held high, spoken with confidence and grace, looked on to her Prince when she needed to appear supportive.

As I watched her, watching the crowds of hundreds (and probably millions around the world), all looking at the bundle in her arms, I saw something that every new mother feels at some point, fear.

I wondered as she looked at the crowds, was she realizing that she did not just have her first son, but a future king of England, who would be claimed as ‘theirs’ by millions of people. I wondered if she realized that this was the first time of many, that he would not be only hers.

This tiny baby, held lovingly, securely by his mom and dad, will inherit so much … wealth, position in society, the throne of England. He will also inherit the highest expectations, a lofty role, an aggressive press, and even death threats. I wonder if all that her beautiful baby boy will inherit flashed before Kate’s eyes yesterday, along with the flashes from the many cameras. I wonder if the mother her within her wished she could hug her baby and run away to a place of obscurity.

May Kate have the loving support of husband, family and friends. May she have the wisdom to shield her son as much and for as long as she possible can. May she create within the private walls of her own house, the closest thing to a ‘normal’ upbringing for her boy. And may she know that sharing does not have to mean giving away.

May she seek the guidance of her own Creator and Provider for the wisdom to raise her son in the shadow of the Most High.

“He is the God who made the world. He also made everything in it. He is the Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in temples built by hands. He is not served by human hands. He doesn’t need anything. He himself gives life and breath to all people. He also gives them everything else they have. From one man he made all the people of the world. Now they live all over the earth. He decided exactly when they should live. And he decided exactly where they should live. God did this so that people would seek him. Then perhaps they would reach out for him and find him. They would find him even though he is not far from any of us.” Acts 17:24-27

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