In the wake of the devastation in Japan, I read in the newspaper the real risk to these broken people is worse than radiation. It’s the fear and anxiety associated with radiation.
I’m staying in prayer this week for the people of Japan and their neighbors, and I’m contemplating fear. What do you fear the most?
Me, I’m a recovering scare-dy cat. For as long as I can remember, my personal fear factor jumped off the charts. Everything from closet-dwelling monsters to geometry to the crippling dread that my children might be snatched right under my nose …you name it; I feared it.
Most of my fears never materialized. I’ll give you just one example. Before the babies came along, an employer required passing a killer test I just knew I was destined to fail. Who did I think I was to take on this kind of job? I was terrified. I studied like a madwoman on double shot espresso and was certain, certain I'd to fail. Leave in tears with my scare-dy cat tail tucked.
Not only did I pass the test; I earned the highest score in the class.
I can’t say I learned from that experience right away. I could tell you so many stories like it. I tip toed through my life, certain the sky was falling. I didn't take risks for fear of failure; but I didn't learn much either. Until I was forced into it.
Then, a few years ago, the bottom dropped, for real. Don't want to go into detail here … but what I can tell you is this. I endured stomach wrenching, immobilizing, searing fear. It brought me to my knees, and made everything else I feared seem innocuous by comparison. It knocked me down hard… for a season.
Funny thing about meeting up face to face with fear. You emerge... so. much. stronger. Once you stare fear straight in the eye, walk over its coals, heal and recover; well, you can allow the callouses that form to represent strength and mercy. I'm not the anxiety - ridden person I once was. But I'm stronger, and softer, at once.
Fear is empowering. Facing it is a necessary component to growth, to success. A wise woman once told me to do that which you fear most. It works.
Now, I'm free from the constant need to protect myself against the shoe dropping. Because it will. But I don’t have to ruin today until that happens.
I still experience fear, but now I spank it, tell it to go to its room and think for awhile. I can’t dwell in the house of fear anymore; I’ve got a life to live.
I don’t know how I would respond to sudden, seismic, cataclysmic fear, such as surviving the crushing events endured by the people of Japan. (Or losing a child, or facing my own mortality.) My prayer is they emerge with a renewed strength and vigor. And, that we each help in some small way. (Text Japan to 80888 and donate $10 to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts.) But I can draw inspiration from survivors. We are far more resilient than we realize.
The biggest fear I’ve got going? Traveling for a solid week in a tricked out, gas guzzling R.V. (did you see that movie?) with three lively, squabbling kids. We’re going to DISNEY! I can’t wait to get to the happiest place on earth. I'll let you know if I face my fear of driving that big rig.
Quote: A woman is like a teabag; you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water. -Eleanor Roosevelt
Prayer: Dear Lord, You are my fortress and my shield. Dwell within me; help me to walk with confidence, compassion, kindness and strength. Amen.