Monday, October 27, 2008

Fighting Fear

Monday . . . my favorite day of the week. We freshen up our "To Do" lists, I lard up the pantry and fridge, each walks with a briskness that follows a day of complete rest. Yet, somehow today I drag . . .

The News, which by definition should contain something "NEW," sadly screams out the same "stuff" (hardly able to be taken as fact). The voices from economic, political, and greater world realms all clang with dire warnings and severe cautions. As an optimist by nature -- you know the type: "Did you see that sparkling refreshment rising plentifully up the sides of that beautiful pressed glass tumbler?" she exclaims excitedly -- the news strains my perky hunt for something to savor throughout the day. And yet, savoring the simple moments of my day has become of paramount importance to me.

As Lydia and I recently discussed Anne Frank's Diary, Zlata's Diary, The Hiding Place, and even her latest read, Gone with the Wind, I wondered what thoughts breezed in and out of the minds of each person the days, weeks, and months before the schisms that rocked their comfortable worlds. Did Mrs. Frank carelessly toss out a softening strawberry (as I had just done) only to regret it later as her family subsisted on meager rations? Did Corrie Ten Boom bustle past an inviting park bench facing a luscious rose parade without the slightest glance, and then conjure every memory possible of gardens and benches and rest as she labored in a Nazi camp? Could Zlata's mother have barked at her distracted daughter, ordering her inside out of the fresh air and onto chores, soon mourning such rashness as her daughter huddles indoors in fear of bullet spray?

By nature I worry. I know it serves no purpose and merely drains my resources, but still the natural way runs wild if I let down my guard. The day after 9-11 my children frolicked in the vast gardens of our rural home with a new puppy. A small plane cruised by overhead. When I heard the putter of the small engine in the skies above I panicked and ran outside to shield my babies from peril. My wild flying arms and pumping feet caused me to stumble and the children erupted in laughter, thinking me merely eager to join their puppy games. Thank you Lord for blinding my children to my fear.

Yesterday I read:

I recalled my life-long struggle with incessant worry and the "What If" game: What if this happens? . . . [wring, wring go the hands] Or maybe that? [wring, wring, wring ...] In the past I pretended my worry qualified for planning or preparation; I attempted to fool myself into thinking this peace-robbing activity served a useful purpose. The result: an ulcer by age 15 and the clear warning that I would have to stand vigil against this treacherous devil throughout my life.

In my mid-30s I fell into a life-changing/saving relationship with a precious godly mentor. She cried, "Stop!" as I mewled on about possible outcomes in a VERY painful situation in my life. She halted my spiral of worry and supplied a life-preserving bit of advice laced with Scripture:

"We are instructed to focus on WHATEVER IS TRUE.* Since these things you worry about haven't come to pass, nor may ever, they aren't true. Thus they are lies you tell yourself to believe."

I stopped, stunned and truly shocked. "I'm lying to myself? But what if they DO come true?"

"Simple," she replied, "then they are true and you deal with them."

"Hmmmmmmm ... " I wondered and the bonds of fear began breaking in that very moment.

Years later I still remind myself that "What Ifs" may never come true. I also comfort myself with the truth that when my son Matthew choked on a burrito I jumped up, performed the heimlich maneuver, and saved his life WITHOUT EVER HAVING BEEN TAUGHT THE HEIMLICH. Guess my instinct served me just fine even though I had never spent a moment's time worrying about him choking.

And so, I tune out the "What Ifs" and concentrate on the "Truths" that blossom all around me. I savor the joy of hearing my girls practice their music, I delight in dead-heading the still-prolific roses, I smile as I knead the bread we will eat with supper, and I praise the Lord that He remains constant and loving despite the headlines and horrors in the world. I also pause to say a prayer for those I know who are struggling with the pain of losing a loved one (surely they are not consumed in fear regarding an election outcome or a stock transaction). Immediately I think of another celebrating the birth of a new child and pray a celebratory word for the healthy arrival which follows the devastating loss of a previous baby. Through it all God stands with out-stretched arms and entreats us to embrace one another in love, not in fear nor by force. Words of comfort spill forth as I read my Bible at the start of my day.

These things I have spoken unto you,
That in me ye might have peace.
In the world you shall have tribulation:
But be of good cheer;
For I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

A promise trumps a "What If" any day! I fill my cup with this peaceful promise and then reach to you with brimming cup and hopeful eyes.

"O, taste and see that the Lord is good:
Blessed is the man that trusteth in him."
(Psalm 34:8)
Philippians 4:8


Schotzy said...

Wonderful post. In my Bible study we are writing down the promises of God on index cards an praying them out loud! There is effectual power in the spoken Word! I beleive this is going to see us through come what may!!!
Blessed! Carolyn

Kat said...

What a gift your mentor gave to you when she spoke those words. And what a reminder for me. I too, am a worrier. Not in a way that may affect me on the outside but in my head. I too need to remember that God will help me through whatever situation I face.
Beautiful post.

And I think you are the first person I've ever heard of who loves Mondays. ;)

CIELO said...

Oh my sweet friend... do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight... keep dancing like nobody's watching and live like it's heaven on earth... (I learned that from you)



Becky said...

Thank you Debbie for reminding me to keep my perspective away from what if and focus on what is.

I sincerely agree the the additional awards you placed in my comments ... especially the white shirt, no dirt, guts in the eye, cry. You earned it with honors ;-)

Mim said...

Very inspirational.. I needed to read this today.
Worry, now that is a hard one for me too.
Sometimes when I lay down to sleep at night the worry wars begin, if you know what I mean.

Flea said...

Thank you for the word to think on things that are TRUE. I forget. Someone said to me the other day that when we worry, the scenarios we play in our head are never ones that will actually happen. Hence, as you say, they are truly false. We can't know the future. *sigh* I just don't read the news.

farmlady said...

There is not yesterday or tomarrow, only the moment that you're in right now, so worry has no place in "this" moment; only concentration on what is and what needs to be done.
You're working at it. It's not easy to break a worry habit, or any other habit for that matter.

Reflect "yourself" to the world and God will give you a mirror. Let him help.

noble pig said...

I love Monday's too but have no fears. My husband worries enough for both of us and I let him. Is that wrong?

Karen said...

Now there's a great way of thinking. Thank you for lining it out like that - I sometimes think that if I don't worry about something then I'm not giving it my best.

Karen Deborah said...

Intersting post considering I worried all day about this job, this SALES job that i am so not suited for. I miss having the human comtact and number of tasks to do. Nothing happened all day so tomorrow Ihave nothing that won't go over to well. worry worryrory, we do it so much that it must like really work!
I understand and share many of these feeking/feelings it was a typo and then I left it.
The question really is how to remain in an attitude of praise and blessing when our world does go down, and it may very soon begin.