Have You Ever Been Fearful?

Last week I let my fears get the best of me — and it’s not  the first time.

Many of my bad decisions over the years have come from a place of fear. I wish the fears were related to grizzly bears or insects because it’s pretty easy to rid yourself of those types of fears since they’re obvious.

My fearful tendencies are usually more subtle because I’m great at rationalizing them or ignoring the deeper causes all together.

A few weeks back my husband got me a pony (actually a mini horse) and I was thrilled for about three days.

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Here’s what triggered an insane panic attack that also lasted about three days (not including the physical recovery time):

  1. When the lady dropped off Hobbes he was much bigger than I imagined he would be — and to be fair — much cuter. He was also skittish and head shy. This we had been warned about but it was still unnerving since he was at least a hundred pounds bigger than I thought he would be. The kind lady had spent a year working to get him used to people and did a great job but he still has a long way to go. The FEAR set in when she mentioned he needed his hooves trimmed ASAP.
  2. I called a vet-recommended farrier whose tone let me know right away that he thought I was an idiot for taking in an unknown rescue animal. The more he talked the more I could feel my excitement draining from me while fear flooded in. He said he’d come by in a few weeks. That meant each day that I woke in dread of his call since Hobbes was just barely letting me touch him.
  3. Randomly, this other lady who I’d been talking to over the last few months who does Christ-based equine therapy for humans called me about something. When I told her I had a mini horse now she was super excited for me, but warned me that if there was one thing I should know it was that  Hobbes should NEVER EVER be given second cut hay because it is too rich and the horse could die from founder (which is a sort of fever in the feet). She continued to give good advice that I don’t remember because I was pacing the floor waiting for her to hang up. As soon as she did I raced to the barn and tore the second cut hay outta there.
  4. I spent the day driving around to all the places in the county that I could think of that had first cut hay to no avail. I also forgot to eat. By nightfall I was a mess and spread the lovely anxiety all through the house as my husband called the guy he knew —  but the guy was drunk and didn’t have any hay.

Did I mention that I burst out crying to a few people I didn’t really know over the course of the day?

Now here’s the part I find so amazing. I had been praying to God to reveal my weaknesses and also to make it clear that the revelation would be from Him. I assumed if ever I got an answer it would be something about impatience.

As I walked through the two days of hell that I basically created I felt in my soul that God was answering the prayer: FEAR OF MAN IS MY IDOL OF CHOICE

The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. Proverbs 29:25

You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it. Deuteronomy 1:17

If I were to say to you that I was afraid for Hobbes and his health that would only be the side of the thing I wanted you to see and maybe applaud me for, but the truth is as I ran around all day my thoughts were about the condemnation and shame I would feel if it were exposed to the unknown farrier and the unknown imaginary judges that I was imperfect and in way over my head.

Fear and shame run rife in my family, but that doesn’t mean I get to wallow in it. I wallowed for a little while until I remembered a sign advertising hay I’d passed many times. This is silly but even at my age I still feel a strong anxiety about phone calls especially when I’m in need, but I knew that I could not let my husband make the call. I knew God was basically saying that fear just wasn’t a foolish thing but a total lack of faith in Him and an idol that kept me from living a victorious life (church speak).

But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”Matthew 16:23

I called and the guy on the other end answered.

“I’m really hoping you have hay because I’m desperate and freaking out because we have a mini horse and there’s no way he’ll lift his feet for the farrier and I’m irrationally afraid that he’s going to die of founder by tomorrow morning — he won’t right???”

There was a long pause. “Hey, take a deep breath. Your horse will be fine. Okay, what I want you to do is enjoy tonight with your family. I’ll set a few bales of hay out tomorrow morning and you come by and I’ll give you some help since I have a few minis myself.”

There was something in his voice that was super Zen.

I was shaking on the phone because as he was speaking I knew God was showing me what life could be like if I didn’t carry around a whole ton of pride and shame.

When I got off the phone I burst into tears. Our adopted daughter came beside me and said, “I didn’t know you were anxious like me. That’s another way that we are like twins.”

Apparently she was happy about it.

When I got to the horse barn the next day I was a lot calmer. I realized that if Hobbes didn’t get his feet done right away it wasn’t all my fault — after only a few days of knowing him. I wasn’t a superstar trainer. This would be a huge learning season for me. The man with the hay took time out to show me ways to calm Hobbes  (and me) down. He was so kind and not judgemental!

It reminded me of how in elementary school I was so humiliated that I didn’t already know the stuff the teacher was being paid to teach me. Irrational but me — STILL.

IMG_0250The lady who gave us the horse called and offered to come show me how to handle the hoof situation (this also made me cry because she offered to drive an hour and a half for free!). When she came Hobbes was a brute and didn’t let her do a thing which was oddly comforting.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has to do with punishment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

 

 

Further reading:

LAY ASIDE FEAR OF MAN

DETOXING FROM THE FEAR OF MAN

FEAR OF LOSING APPROVAL

The Tenafly Road Series

“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”

Sunday at Middlemay Farm

“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”

Henry Van Dyke

 

PRE-ORDER:

THE ONE MY HEART LOVES & THE GRAND UNION

About The Tenafly Road Series:

“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”

“Rich and colorful page turners. Morris has a fine sense of time and place and brings her memorable characters to life. She also tells a captivating story. You won’t find it easy to put her books down, and her characters will stay with you when you do. We can only hope she keeps writing and gives us more episodes in this fascinating chronicle.”

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Rumi

One day a young Henry James (Senior) saved a barn and possibly all Albany from fire. Henry, the son of a self-made and emotionally distant man, was already a secret alcoholic early in his teen years. (Here I remember my first love drinking stolen vodka from an emptied salad dressing bottle on our first date–a bicycle ride to a nearby park at the age of 13). In the 1830’s everyone drank. Not everyone became an alcoholic.

Henry, though sent to good schools and housed in good neighborhoods, hung with the wilder prep-school boys. Seeing pictures of his more famous sons,  William and Henry Jr., I think we can gather that he was a good-looking and rakish teenager when his life was changed forever by a science experiment gone wrong.

IMG_4088Henry’s science teacher gathered the boys on a lawn near the school to fly tiny hot air balloons and when one caught fire the boys probably thrilled at the display until the wind carried the fireball into the stable hayloft nearby. Maybe Henry thought of the horses housed below, maybe he thought of the school and the city, but whatever he thought of, it propelled him to race into the stable, climb the ladder and stomp out the fire. I imagine the other students cheering on his reckless bravery and even Henry’s own heart thrilling at his heroism.

But Henry’s trousers had the oil from the experiment still on them and within seconds young Henry’s legs were aflame. The fire was put out and Henry was dragged away in unimaginable agony. Robust young boys don’t like to sit still, but Henry lay bedridden for months. Infection set in. The doctor, with heavy heart, cut as little of Henry’s rotting leg away as possible. Infection set in again, but this time most of the boy’s leg was taken.

For months Henry, in dark loneliness, contemplated life. We have no idea exactly what he or his parents thought about those teen years, but we do know that Henry married, traveled, hobnobbed with literary greats and infected his two oldest boys with great intelligence, great drives and sad yearnings.

Henry spent his life consumed with the desire to prove himself great–and masculine. Great men wrote great books, gave moving speeches and stood on their own two feet. They went to war and made money. Henry did none of these things. His own mediocrity and  striving may have led to his sons’ greatness but not to his own happiness.

Where is the line between self-awareness and self-absorption? I heard someone recently say that life is about finding out who you are and that the more knowledge you have about yourself, the happier you’ll be. Is this true?

Henry seemed oblivious to how his obsessive search for self left his children conflicted and unsteady. I wonder if this search for inner enlightenment is just a limitless black hole.

There’s a simple way to escape this, but it’s not easy. One has to believe that there is meaning in suffering and that God accepts us AS-IS. I find the second part harder than the first.

I’d love to know what you think. Has suffering in your life led to absorption or enlightenment? How does one counter self-absorption without a sense of God and a moral universe? How do we even know that we’re self-absorbed when we’re self-absorbed?

***Inspiration for this post: House of Wits by Paul Fisher

THE DYSFUNCTIONAL JAMESES

THE MEANING OF SUFFERING

 

 

 

 

“Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection . . .

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The mystic chords of memory,  stretching from every battlefield, and the patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our  nature.

The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. . . .We shall nobly save or meanly lose, the last, best hope on Earth.” Abraham Lincoln

 

Note: Our foster girl is back and off this week of school so my visits here may be sketchy at best, but wanted to take this moment to remember the  men and women like Lincoln (and the Founding Fathers who some would like to forget(?!)) who made the United States an inspiration to all lovers of freedom.

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. ~George Washington Carver

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On his tombstone: “He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world”.