What Are You Afraid Of?

A friend’s facebook status made me think. She is a warm, witty person with a wonderful sense of humor. The other day she posted something different. She shared the fears and struggles that have been holding her back. The post made me cry, just a little. Not because what she wrote was so heart rending and sad, but because I could relate so well. She ended her post asking ‘What are you afraid of?’

I am afraid of failure.

I am afraid of failing to finish my book, afraid that no one will read it if I do. I am afraid of failing my children, that they will grow up and leave home without any of the most basic tools for dealing with the real world. I am afraid of failing my husband, in being the helpmate, the partner that he needs and deserves.

I am afraid of rejection.

I am afraid that when people see the real me, deep down and dirty, they will turn away. Those who love me the most, my husband, my parents, even God, will get so tired of me disappointing them, that they will shrug their shoulders and turn away.

I am afraid of being insignificant.

I am afraid that I can try my best, to be my best, to do everything exactly right, only to find that it doesn’t make any difference to anyone. That my most precious gift is less than worthy, that my biggest accomplishment is a waste of time.

I know that these fears are not from God. I know that He is right there beside me, loving me, encouraging me, leading me. I know that He did not give me the spirit of timidity, but of power.

I know that. The fear keeps me chained, keeps me from accomplishing all that God has set for me to do. I battle the fear every day. I struggle to keep my eyes on my Guide instead of the pit of despair beneath my feet.

A few weeks ago in church I believe God sent me a picture. It is the the third in a series of pictures He has given me over the last few years. I wish I was an artist and able to put them on paper to help remind me.

The first picture was me crumpling under a burden of darkness to great for me to bear. Like the Greek god Atlas struggling to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders. It is forcing me to my knees as the blackness oozes like tar attempting to drown me. Jesus steps up to me and lifts the burden from me and frees me from its weight.

The second picture is me standing in the ocean with my arms outstretched trying to hold back the tide. My family stands behind me and I am trying to shield them from the battering of the world. But it it too much for me. The water is gushing between my fingers and my edges are blurred, my very essence is being stripped away. My mouth is open in a silent cry of despair. Jesus stands behind me with his arms outstretched. All I have to do is lean back and let him take the burden. He whispers in my ear. Trust me. Trust them to me.

In this third picture, I am standing alone in a dungeon. I am surrounded by darkness, my hands are chained above my head and my feet are chained to the wall. I am afraid of the dark, of what is out there, unseen. In church we are singing the words, “break these chains”. My soul cries out, Break my chains, Lord.┬áJesus steps out of the darkness. My child, I have already broken them. All you have to do is step away.

I look at my chains. They are merely an illusion, a powerless image created in my own head. But I still can’t seem to move, I know it is my own fears that hold me back, but I still struggle to leave them behind.

Please, Lord, don’t give up on me yet. I am still trying. Stay with me.

My child, I will never leave you or forsake you, I love you and will never give up on you.

Thank you, Lord.

Winter is not Forever.

This is such a hard time of year, at least for me. I know I am not the only one who struggles yearly with the post-holiday Seneca falls state parkblues or seasonal depression. It just feels like I am. There are days I struggle to get out of bed, to put one foot in front of the other. I long to go back to bed and snuggle under my covers with a sign on the door that says ‘Do Not Disturb Until Spring’.
But I can’t do that. I have three kids who need help to get up and moving in the morning. I have a husband who needs clean clothes to wear to work and a somewhat tidy house to come home to in the evening. I also have dogs. They need me to feed them and walk them and give them love and attention.
Today I just wasn’t feeling it. I had managed to get the kids off to school, only one missed the bus and had to catch a ride with dad. I was sitting on the couch sipping my coffee as I gave vague attention to a morning show on TV. No sooner had my eyes drifted shut, seeking the less stressful land of dreams, than the dogs whined. Not much, just a little reminder that they had been in their crates all night and really needed to go out.
I was still in my bathrobe, feet curled under a fuzzy blanket and my head heavy from a poor night’s sleep, ‘Quiet’ I command. They subside for a few minutes, then another whine.
‘Hush, I’m not ready to deal with you yet.’The whining gets louder and is soon accompanied by scratching.
002 (2)Come on, Mom, I gotta go!
Finally, I get up off the couch, get dressed and take them for a walk. I live far enough in the country so that I can let them roam on the property while I mosey along behind them. They take off to do their business and I follow at my own pace.

What a pretty morning. A not-so-cold breeze dances through my hair. The bright morning sun breaks through lingering clouds and I can actually feel warmth in the golden rays. I take a deep breath and for a second, I taste Spring. Of course, this is Central New York and Spring will be months in coming, but sometimes, in the darkest depths of winter a warmer day arrives. The snow melts to reveal the sleeping earth beneath just waiting to waken from its slumber to surge to life again.
Winter is not forever. Thank you God for reminding me that this is just a season, and seasons change. Thank you Sadie and Annie for making me go out this morning.