Thursday, September 19, 2013

In the Refiner's Fire - Living in Fear

One of the things that I realized this month was how much of my time I spend living in fear.

Buddy was growing for two solid weeks - and I had to trade in all of his "new" pants from the uniform swap for new ones.  Fortunately the school was very understanding (the Secretary just laughed when I came in with a pile of pants and unlocked the cupboard for me with a big smile).  When he's growing that means night terrors along with the physical growing pains.

Watching him struggle with night terrors, I realized I have been living a lot of my life lately in terror of what is to come.  Maybe not terror, but at least fear.

I have some anxiety problems - usually related to a specific event that had some traumatic effect on me, but some that are related to stress, hormones or my underlying chronic illnesses.

Driving for me is the worst - and it's purely situational.

The only car accident I have been involved in was quite serious (my car's engine block was completely crushed) and happened on part of the route I have to take to work.  Yes, have to.  There is only one route between where I live and where I work for about 1/3 of the trip.  My children's school is roughly at the end of this 1/3 of the trip.

I had one day where I arrived at my children's school, dropped them off and then went back out to the car and shook and sobbed for 15 minutes before I could drive again.  The weather was perfectly clear, the car was running fine and there were no accidents between our house and school.

It rained today and I almost didn't leave home - my thoughts were so rampant about us getting in a car accident on the way to school and my children dying that it was almost impossible for me to leave the house.  I went out to back the car out of the garage and realized that it wasn't raining at that moment - so, quick, hurry up and leave!  We made it but I ended up feeling like a complete failure that a bit of rain would make me so nervous.

In addition to the car accident on this stretch of road, my husband hit a wild turkey twice (don't ask) and I have had more experiences with black ice than I care to think about.  All on this one stretch of road.  I am grateful that I have to drive that stretch of road 5 days a week or I probably would never drive again. 

In addition to the driving, I am someone who likes to be in control and know what's going to happen.

Seminary and the upcoming internship have been extremely difficult for me because there are so many unknowns. 

We don't know exactly how much money we'll need on a daily basis to do what we need to do - we have an idea but the exact numbers are unknown yet - and we don't know what kind of income we'll have during that time.

We don't know exactly how my health issues will play out from day to day.

We don't know exactly where we will end up or what kind of Call John will have after seminary.

All of these things make me nervous and worried. I fret about numbers, and resources, and the things that we have or don't have or need or might need.  I fret every time I come down with a sniffle (which I have right now) or worse and imagine that I'm completely incapacitated and unable to do anything for the rest of our earthly lives.  I fret about future housing and medical insurance and whether or not we'll have enough money for toilet paper, food and the occasional pair of shoes.  And none of this is even part of our lives yet!

Living in the fear is paralyzing. 

I have so many days when I just can't do anything because I'm so paralyzed by fear.   With the exception of the days when I am physically unable to do anything - when I retreat to my bed and hope that sleep will help - I find relief in doing.  Something. Anything purposeful and productive.  To get me out of the fear and back into life.

My shingles acted up again while my parents were here and I dissolved into a puddle of tears knowing that my parents could take the kids to school if my leg locked up again and that I really didn't have to go anywhere that day if I didn't have to - being able to work some days from home is a lovely thing!  The relief of knowing that things were taken care of was unbelievable. 

My Mom hugged me and rubbed my back and told me about the two years - two years - that she was physically unable to get out of bed due to her back problems.  They were young marrieds and she had disk problems and ended up in bed for two years.  Dad had to carry her to the bathroom or she had to use a bedpan.  Only the knowledge that it couldn't get worse and her ability to do something - read or pray or look out the window only - kept it from being unbearable.  Slowly my Mom got better. 

And slowly, I'll get better too. 

I started writing down each tiny blessing that comes to me - being able to hug a friend or pray for them, a new zucchini on the plant in the garden (even though I'm starting to get sick of zucchini), a day when I got several things done, being able to talk to my parents on the phone, having the laundry all done before the week starts, hugs from my children, John making dinner, or the time to take a nap.  All of them have been just that - a blessing. So far in the first 19 days of September I have 95 of them for this month alone!

It is truly helping me see that the Lord's blessings outweigh everything that I fear and He is faithful to His promises to never leave or forsake us. 

I have been living in a land of fear, of the "what ifs", the "if onlys", and the "should haves". 
The Lord is helping me live in the land of today and the blessings of the here and now.

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it's own things. Sufficient for the day it it's own trouble.   Matthew 6:34
 
Slowly I'm learning to live in this land of today and not worry about tomorrow. 
 
Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.
 
Note:  I do have medical and hormonal issues that are influencing my fear and anxiety. God is so good in that He has given me the knowledge that this is the case and good guidance through my medical care providers to show me what I can and can't have control over.  As the medical and hormonal issues are dealt with, some of my areas of anxiety will go away completely.  I am looking forward to that day!  In the meantime, I am doing my best to rest in the Lord and leave my burdens with Him so that the stress of my worry doesn't accentuate my anxiety and make it that much worse. 

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Lea