Fear has always been a ridiculously big part of my life. As a kid, I had so many irrational fears that my parents monitored every single movie and tv show I watched, and every book I read. “Goosebumps”? Ha! Forget that! I could barely read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” without having nightmares. I was petrified of the dark, I was obsessed with the idea of a kidnapper coming in the middle of the night and snatching me. I had nightmares of these two boys at church who were actually quite nice, but in my nightmares about them they had glowing red eyes … which I picked up from the “Care Bears Movie”. I know, right? The one movie you’d think would be totally safe for your children to watch and not gain any new phobias.
I was deathly afraid of heights. Riding roller coasters was completely out of the question. I went to Six Flags once with our youth group and our youth director MADE me ride one of the rides. I’ve never quite figured out why it was such a big deal to him, but he forced the issue and I rode it. It was one of those that goes forwards and upside down a bunch of times and then hits the height of its horribleness and does the whole thing again in reverse. I nearly threw up on my youth director afterwards, and he stopped insisting I ride things. I still feel it might have served him right to get puked on.
I’ve learned lots of things about fear over the years. Some are easily conquered. I thought I was afraid of bugs until I moved to the country and our house has various, harmless bugs in it all the time. I’m more afraid of the toxic chemicals filling my kid’s lungs than I am of there being live june bugs around, so I put up with the june bugs. Also, I have a weird aversion to the crunching sound they make when you kill them. I still hate scorpions with a passion, and I would never crush one myself until I had kids. You wouldn’t believe the stuff you can do when you think your child might get hurt if you don’t. It’s a truly awful sound though. ((Shudder))
I still squish every spider that I encounter. Jason assures me that there are only two kinds of spiders in Texas that are dangerous, the black widow and the brown recluse. So, I squish every spider I encounter just in case its a black widow or a brown recluse. I mean, if you google images of brown recluse spiders, EVERY brown spider you’ve ever seen comes up! No joke. There’s no telling what these monsters look like. Death to all brown spiders. As a side note, you should never google “brown recluse spider bite”. Trust me on that, you don’t want to know.
The fear of unknowns in the future are always big with me. I used to fear losing people that I love to death, or that my kids would get sick, or that I would die and leave them with no mom. My mother reminded me of something very important that has helped me cope with this one. She reminded me that God gives us just enough grace to be sufficient for what we’re going through right now. Not the grace to go through the problems others face, or the grace for everything that will happen in our future … just right now. But, when we need it, that grace will be there. This has proven to be absolutely true in my life. An unexplainable peace surrounds me when I’m going through something incredibly painful. I remind myself of this quite frequently when I’m drawn into fearful speculation about the future. Don’t rob what is good today just to worry over the future.
Most of my current fears are not that serious, but they can have a hugely negative impact on your calm. Fear of what others will think of me … or my kids … or my husband. Just whatever, it is immobilizing. And kind of silly. Here’s the deal, you can’t control other people’s minds. Short of like, hypnosis or something, which my voice is not soothing enough to master, people can think whatever they want. It’s an American thing. We can say we don’t care what they think but we do, and sometimes we even should. Not caring what anyone else thinks of you can get you into trouble.
I strive to have a healthy dose of self-awareness and leave behind the self consciousness. I want to be presentable, to comb my hair, to not wear pants in public that were clearly meant to be pajamas … those sorts of things. However, the self-consciousness thing hits me at the worst possible times. One of my children throwing themselves on the floor and crying … in the doctor’s office waiting room, while two dozen elderly people stare at me like, “In my day, I never would have allowed my children to behave that way in public.” Yeah, I think, but in your day CPS wasn’t really a thing either. Instead of saying that, I calmly scrape my child up off the floor, threaten them under my breath and propel them through the door into the doctor’s office.
A little known fact about me is that just when I think I look like a dignified, put together person, I trip. Literally. I physically trip over my own feet when I think I’m handling this whole walking thing really well. So now you know. If you see me walking down a perfectly straight, completely obstacle free hallway and stumble headlong over thin air, you will know that was a moment I was trying to look cool.
Facing fears is never simple, but we have to do it, or we’ll just walk around being perfect basket cases all the time. I push aside my fears of the things I can’t control. I swallow hard and close my eyes and ignore the sound of that scorpion crunching. I simply avoid heights at all costs. That’s a lot easier when you’re an adult. People can’t force you to ride roller coasters any more when you hit your thirties. Nice perk. I actually get a little freaked out still to go grab something from the car when it’s dark outside. Anything could be lurking in that black void. You just never know. As far as what people will think if you fail, no worries. Edison, Einstein, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling … all of them faced multiple and brutal failures before their success. They still thought Edison was nuts even after he succeeded. And did you know Harry Potter was rejected like 28 times before someone finally published it? I bet those other jokers are pretty bummed out right about now. I bet Jo Rowling is pretty glad she kept trying.
Fear is normal. We all do it. So dream big, lift your head high after you trip and smile like you did it on purpose, plunge into the darkness to retrieve the phone you left out in the truck … it’ll be okay. Everyone is still afraid of the dark at 34 years old. They’re just too cool to admit it. Also, I’m NOT afraid of thunderstorms or clowns. I just feel like I should get some credit for that.
You just went and googled “brown recluse spider bite” didn’t you? I was right, wasn’t I? Disgusting. Told you so.