Monday, October 04, 2010

Facing our Fear

Facing our Fear

Sunday, October 03, 2010

What a statement. Fear just starts rising up thinking about facing those things in our lives that we try not to think about. Then that fight or flight wells up in us and we are ready to go. We either start running or we pull out the armor.

This past year has been a multitude of fears and challenges for me. Most of the time I did not get the choice to run or fight, I just had to stand there and hold on, fighting with what seems like every breath I had. Praying harder than I have ever prayed and trying to listen to the Holy Spirit whisper every step of the way.

For me this is not so unusual though. Most of my life was and is a serious of situations that are fearful, out of my control and yet I have to face them head on. But there are times though, we get to choose. We have the opportunity to say, "no thank you, I will pass on this one" or "I am going to pull my big girl pants up and let's ride". Unfortunately or fortunately, I happen to be one of those girls that live in the "let's ride" category. This can be a blessing and a curse. You feel life more. You see life more. But you bleed more, you self evaluate more, you love harder, you expect more but it is so hard to keep yourself in a cage.

I think something changes in you when you have a choice. For so many of us our fear is a result of bad choices. I was sitting in my "Chasing the goose" class with Pastor Chuck last week and he was talking about the cage of guilt. All of us in the class could relate to the cage of guilt. We may have dressed our cage up so beautifully that it blends in with our lives. We have so eloquently positioned it in our lives that blends in with our view so that we do not even see it anymore. We know it is there, we heard it rattle at the beginning of reading this. But we have chosen not to face it.

Another view for me is fear is usually related to that guilt cage in some form, sometimes. That the conformity of our "church life" allows the devil to not only create guilt in our life from some bad choices but also creates fear that if anyone really knew me? That fear keeps us bound inside the cage of guilt. Our perception of what the Christian life should be keeps us bound by our own fear. Oh but the freedom to open that cage and choose to face it all and use it for God's glory. Real freedom. And that is a whole other thought.

As adults we can all relate, can we not? We have, at some point, created our cage. But what about a child that has faced fear and guilt with no baggage. No cage that has been built around her from bad choices, just life has created the fear and the guilt. What does this look like through their eyes. This weekend I was mesmerized with God, with people and with Olivia. It never occurred to me how much she would have to face being a part of the youth retreat. I never realized how much I would have to face allowing her to go.

When we arrived, Olivia was having a hard time finding anyone to really "hang" with. She was really new in this group of 127 kids heading out. Her friends were there but by now, after a year and a half of not being there, had created their cliques and she was outside the circle. I see her walk from one group to another as they walk off to see yet another friend. I saw her hope dash several times as she moved around the crowd and tried to fit in. As a Mom my heart just fell. I had to hold it all in and let her sink in that ocean of kids and it was killing me on the inside. At one point, I was about to cry so I had to move about talking to my friends to get myself steeled against the flight mode. Finally, she came up to me and just stood. I knew in that moment if I just mentioned she could ride with us instead of the bus, she would and that would be the wrong thing. How did I know that, all I can say is the Holy Spirit and prayer cover because this Mom wanted to scoop her up and protect. I am sure none of you have had that moment, LOL.

So, I gave her a minute and then I suggested she ride with us. Never in my life have I seen such fear and determination in my life. She rose up and told me that there was no way she was not getting on that bus. Wow. A girl that age, feeling lost and alone, having a back up plan. She could have run but not my girl…she bolstered herself up and got on that bus. If you are a girl reading this you can just imagine how much that took to stand there, take a deep breath and choose to face that fear. That fear of being different, not fitting in, not being accepted. She chose to face that fear head on. She knew the kids knew she was different. If not, well you couldn't miss the nose tube across her face and the tube hanging out her side. She knew she was a little awkward sociably because she doesn't always understand that teenage code because she has been growing up with adults and in the hospital. But instead of shielding herself from the fear she put her big girl pants on and went on that bus. I wonder if Jesus at some point always knew He was different He would always stand out and be different for the rest of His life. I wonder if, through His eyes, He saw more, He felt more and yet He chose to face it all. Choice is a freeing thing. It lets us soar...

That first fear was only the beginning. The challenges and the fears kept coming this weekend but Olivia and I had a huge step of growth. She was determined to keep up just like everyone else and that first night was a good one. She went to the first session, came back to her cabin and they played games, and she was making some head way into friendships. She was hurting and did end up coming to our cabin after everyone was asleep and tried to get some rest because the morning came very early. After the morning session and lunch they had free time to climb the Alpine tower and the alpine swing.

My first thought and really I was quite vocal with Liv about this.."You are not doing that!". It is 25 feet up climbing tower, you are harnessed but the climbing is difficult and well, she has all these tubes that could come out. The better part of parenting would be to say absolutely, emphatically, "No!". But, when you face so many things life, death, being different, things are way out of your control, as a person you have to be able to face that fear and know that you can face it and conquer it. So, Olivia pleads her case of facing her fear of heights. How simple that sounds to her but in reality she was facing so many more things than just that. How easy it was to see that my fear of protection was what I had to face. And well her Dad, he went along with it because he has two girls that keep him off kilter just enough to give in every once in a while. Somewhere deep inside I knew she had to do this if there was anyway possible. Because she is like her Mom. Face it, move on. Face it and live!

So we worked with the volunteers to get that harness just right. We worked with the other volunteers to make sure she was secure and off she went. Up that climbing tower. The first hard part she hit, she wanted to stop. It took all I had in me to keep urging her on. My Momma's heart wanted her to come down but my other Momma's heart knew she had to do this. Not because she was afraid of heights but she needed to conquer her fear. Her fear of dying, her fear of being mad with God, her fear of being different, her fear of being alone. There were so many things she was conquering in that moment because she had control and a choice. You see, those other times she was courageous because she had to be. There was no choice. She had to walk through them because what else could she do.

But, that day she had a choice. She chose to conquer her fear and have the control. So, she took that next baby step and kept going. I was cheering her on but then all of the kids were cheering her on. She was so proud of herself and yet still pretty terrified. But she made it! She faced her fear and won. She would not build a cage around her and allow the devil to take away her life. She was going to live it. Wow.

No one but me was able to witness all of that. Olivia has no idea that is what happened on Saturday. She just knows she did it and something changed in her heart. All of those kids have no idea how much it took for her to even take on that climbing tower. The month before she could barely lift her head off of a pillow. Physically, emotionally and spiritually it took five times more strength for her to conquer that tower than all of us on the ground. They never saw the accomplishment like I did. Most of the adults around were happy for her and loved seeing her but I realized how much they could not relate to where that child has walked. The depths of pain and courage that she had if she never even attempted to climb that tower. And no one will ever know the depths it took this Mom to push her on. To conquer instead of live in that cage. I know some of you know that depth because you do the same thing. Whether you send a child off to college, to the military or to give them a chance to move on in life the letting go is so hard. The dying to yourself is more than you ever imagined. But once they take flight….and you see them leave that cage…Wow.

I sit here reflecting on all of this I see how much God sacrificed for us through Jesus. So much more than we can even imagine. But, He had to let Jesus go. He had to let Him make the right decisions. He had to watch Him sacrifice Himself because God could see the bigger picture. That picture of all of His children knowing Him. Not lost and forgotten. Not different and alone. Accepted, loved and adopted into a family that allows mistakes…that allows sin to be forgiven…that allows us to free ourselves from our own cages of fear and guilt. And when we soar, all heaven rejoices! Can you even imagine.

Pastor Chuck, thank you for the inspiration. Your class has helped we walk back into that deep relationship with God that I have so needed for so many years. I have felt revived, energized and challenge to finish well.

Pastor Richard, thank you as well. For reminding me to always be a Christ Follower and not a Christian. Because I think sometimes we truly have forgotten that Christ is the one to follow, not each other.

Dean….thank you for always being there and always challenging me on what I believe.

Donna…thank you for challenging me to do even more. Girl, if I could just keep up with you I think I would be alright.

Barbara D...my dear, dear friend.  Thank you for always reminding me to look to Jesus and to get off my rump and walk and always speaking truthfully into my life.  No matter how hard it is...I love you for that.

Olivia…if you ever read this, thank you for being you. Because you are the reason that I know how much God cares for all His children.
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