Posted by: zenmamajo | April 9, 2011

fear: the boa (constrictor) of life…

“The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

i am a believer. a believer in God, a believer in our nation, and a believer in all things military. i was born in 1978 in japan to an Air Force Enlisted Dad and a stay at home mom. we moved to italy when i was about 8 months old and remained there until i completed kindergarten. we then transferred back to japan but a different location. we remained there until the middle of my 5th grade year and then moved to the philippines. after a couple years we were slated to move to the united states. i had visited the states a few times before that but, at 12 that would be my first time ever living here. my thoughts? fear. i’ve feared things since then but that is one of my earliest memories of gripping fear.

although i’ve always been an american, always proud of our nation and military (i often tear up during the national anthem and lee greenwood’s proud to be an american ) i did *not* want to move the states. the “states” was: violent, unsafe, the place where kids were beat up and sold drugs when they went to the bathroom during school. that is what i recalled seeing in the media – the news (not unlike today) often highlighted the darker side of our people so that easily invoked fear in to my 12 yr old mind. (in hindsight that doesn’t make much sense since there were various threats/crimes in the countries i had lived yet i didn’t walk around fearful).

time passed, we moved to the states and i didn’t get beat up nor offered drugs in the bathroom. yes – there was crime. yes – there was violence. but there was much more to love than i expected and that helped squelch my fears. but guess what? now i have irrational fears of traveling to other countries (once again) because of what i see in the media! my 90 something year old grandmother once told me that she developed more fears as she grew older. fear of flying, fear of walking on stairs because of falling, fear of all sorts of things. i remember her confession baffling me because i just couldn’t imagine being afraid of seemingly innocent things.

i’ve revisited that confession many times over the years because i have found what she said to be true. as i grow older (and i consider myself young at 33!), it has become easier for me to become fearful of things like: storms, something happening to my husband and then me becoming a single working mom to four children, something happening to me and my children ‘not knowing their mom’, something happening to both my husband and i and my children getting split up among families, not representing christ the best that i can during my time on earth, the fear of my husband getting booted out the air force (the AF is going through another round of downsizing) and having to live as a ‘civilian’ for the first time *ever* in my life (without base privileges…what will i do without a b.x. or commissary???), and there are others.

when these fears creep up – it’s like a massive boa constrictor wrapping itself around me and tightening it’s incredible vice grip until something gives. so what gives?

well – i do what any sane person would do in this situation – or maybe as caligula might have done: i hide under my bed.

totally kidding. (but i have been known to take shelter in our closet during severe weather if there are tornadic conditions…)

but seriously – there is a cycle i go through:

1 – i (mentally) panic. i start analyzing why i feel that way and frenetically researching options for what can solve my problem or source of fear (generally this includes a LOT of googling).
2 – find ways that God has blessed the people (me, others) or the situation and start praising him.
3 – pray for God’s divine intervention in that situation.

i find once i hit ‘level 2’ – praising God for the blessings – taking my mind off me! me! me! and if i stay focused on praising Him, seeking Him and (genuinely) trusting that He is in control – no matter the situation – remembering that while He may not cause all things, He does allow all things – that is when i feel the boa’s grip on me start to loosen. the more i praise and pray to Him the more that grip loosens – the duller the edge of fear becomes…

what i have not really done is ask the Lord to free me from fear itself. i recently came across the above emerson quote and will try that next time. i waste so much time in the fretting stage. it’s so silly. is there anything wrong with equipping myself with knowledge? of course not – but when i’m operating in fear – i’m not simply casually surfing the net. i’m on a frenetic quest to explore every single thing i can about the thing causing me anxiety and compulsively REsearching and REsearching the same things over and over again until my eyes blur…

it’s that bad *hahaha*. (feel free to chime in so i’ll know i’m not the only one!)

today’s wordpress question was: when was the last time i was afraid. there’ve been plenty of times – and i hope to see if, over time, if i seek Him, the Lord will free me from gripping fear. is fear terrible? of course not. it can help us to recognize danger and keep us safe. i’m talking about fear that grips me: the boa of life. will the boa always remain and sort of lurk in the background? of course. but i would love to overcome (or at least decrease the time spent) the mental fear/anxiety i sometimes experience.

how do you overcome/manage fear? (oh – and please don’t say ‘i can’t live in fear – therefore i don’t fear…’ authentic responses only please – everyone fears something at some time.)

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