The last two weeks have been rough. More than rough. Emotionally draining. Grieving. The second I think my heart could take no more, I read yet another devastating headline.
I don’t watch the news. I know for my own emotional health, I can’t. I’m equal parts insanely sensitive and fearful. I can’t have it on the tv. There’s a negativity it brings into my home that I am opposed to. I’m not advocating for ignorance. I’m not opposed to being aware of current events. I’m opposed to inundating my personal, daily life with constant, worldly negativity.
I struggle with anxiety and fear. Some days it’s regular (for me) anxiety of just how to deal with too much noise, or how to answer an email I don’t want to. Other days, doomsday what-if scenarios play in my head all too often. And if I let these thoughts enter my mind, the little ones become big ones and they begin to terrorize my daily life. This week, I’ve been tempted to wipe my existence from the internet, sell all of our belongings, move to a remote, deserted area of a mountain, and never leave our home for fear my children, my husband, and myself may be eaten, stolen, or killed.
Not dramatic at all.
I begin to second-guess innocent family trips to the mall or other large gathering places. I’m too anxious to take my family to a movie theatre for an innocent movie. I’m filled with too much fear to take my kids out in public on my own because a mom alone with two kids is the perfect target, right? Sidetone: I’m hyper aware when I’m out on my own so don’t mess with this mama! When we are out I always look for the nearest exit, wonder if I can grab both of my children and run fast enough, or what would be the best way to hide and if I could keep my kids quiet enough for long enough to keep us alive.
The other week I finally scored a ticket to the Adele concert. A dream come true. But I didn’t allow my heart to fully celebrate because there’s a spot of fear in me that wonders if that celebration would end up looking like the Bataclan in Paris. I hate this even entered my mind and I hate even typing that here.
This week I wondered if Aaron and I hopping on a plane to NYC this fall might make orphans of our kids.
This week an innocent cough turned into fear of cancer stealing one of us away.
This week I feared that the whooshing in my ear will be with me for the rest of my life.
This week fear of alligators, amoebas, and flesh eating bacteria kept me from a family trip to the beach. For real.
This week fear stood at my front door and maliciously screamed to let it in.
I’m afraid of leaving my family here without me. I’m afraid for the heartache they would experience. I’m afraid of them dying and losing them. I want us all to be here to experience each other for a very long time.
There are these daily thoughts – microscopic moments of thought – that enter my head on a daily basis. Every single day. Doses of fear that try to force their way from a thought into a lifestyle. And every day I have decisions to make about where I’m going to let that fear drive me. They begin as small decisions of whether or not I ignore the fear. If I idle too long, those small decisions are fertilized into big decisions. And before I know it, those big decisions are forcing me into a lifestyle and I’m laying on the floor of my closet having a panic attack. True story. They’re telling me to foil in my windows, stock up on canned goods, buy my own weapons, and prepare for Armageddon.
I’m familiar with fear. It’s the antagonist in my story. Scarier than Voldemort. Or Dementors. Because fear isn’t a fictional character. Fear is the actual real-life enemy.
For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. 2 Timothy 1:7
Here’s the part where I’m simultaneously speaking to you, yet preaching to myself…
Fear is a spirit. And because I’m a child of God I have authority over that spirit. I can’t live my life filtered through fear’s what-ifs. When I choose to live my life through fear, I devote my allegiance to the wrong side. Love wins in the end. Evil loses. So if evil loses, why would I spend my life filtering my big and daily decisions through its fear? I can be vigilant, yes. Fearful? No.
I’ve always wanted a tattoo. I’ve wanted something I feel strongly enough about that I would let it permanently decorate my body. I think I’ve finally found something I want that permanent.
“It matters how this ends.”
If I ever jump in and get this tattoo, I’ll share the birth of the idea. But I’ll look at it every day and it will remind me that it matters how my story ends; that I have a decision to live a fearless life full of risk and joy, love and kindness, fear or fearlessness.
I will not let fear steal the Adele concert away from me. I will not let fear steal our trip to New York City. I will not let fear steal away a family walk around the mall and dinner in the food court to eat a greasy slice of my favorite pizza. I will not let fear steal my children’s childhood away because I’m too afraid to explore the world with them and live in wonderment through their eyes.
Fear will not win.