Last night, our pastor’s wife said that God gives us something specific to do in every season. I’ve come to realize the season I am. It’s not marked by a solstice, the weather or the color of the leaves, rather the emotion that I need to confront.
Which is, per the title, fear. Fear may have met me a long time ago but last month is when my eyes began to open to the season structured on battling it. I want to share a journal reflection I wrote the night of June 22.
Some background, I spent this weekend at a resort town in Orlando. This particular day involved relaxing with Miss Baby and my grandmother on the beach of a man-made lake.
Who wants to admit that they’re scared? Nobody. Not only are we scared, but we are scared to admit that we are scared.
It doesn’t matter what I think about my own braveness or strength because it’s illusory. Most of my fearlessness is hypothetical. I have a knack for overestimating my emotional courage.
The Truth approached me rather subtly today to reveal how fear works in my life.
I’ve seen gators all my life, used to have nightmares of them frequently, then I grew up, canoed through their homes and come to love them as the unofficial mascot my state. Ah, Florida.
My grandmother, baby and I sat at the edge of the pond.
Don’t feed the alligators. No swimming. Alligators present. There are warnings signs just about everywhere in this state but even where there are none… Floridian common knowledge says, ‘if there’s water, there’s gators.’ Sometimes they wander into saltwater, they’re in your neighborhood ditch and they might even be found in your chlorine pool. Don’t take it for granted.
I kid you not, one time a guy from my hometown was fleeing the police after a robbery and thought it smart to hide in a nearby pond. Let’s just say, the gators got to him before the cops did.
OH, Florida Man, fear makes you do stupid things. It will eat you alive, literally.
After a while, an alligator came up and we caught him peeking at us. He was a few yards out, him in water and us on land. But when you’ve got a baby in your hands, any gator is too close for comfort. I threw everything in the tote and got up, warning the other families around that there was a threat in the water.
The standard response when you mention a gator sighting is always, “How big is it?” I told them 6 feet, considering the young kids running around the shoreline.
Once we got back to the room, I realized that he was a young gator probably around 4 feet. And you might say, well who cares? It’s a powerful animal regardless. Sure, but your chances against a 4-foot gator are much more favorable than your odds against a 6-foot gator.
We were ultimately safe, yet, there was a threat targeting (or not targeting) what I hold near and dear. My instinct was flight because fear painted a bigger picture of my opponent. And in the case of nature, it was a good idea to run.
But there are other fears in the civilized part of the world that cause the same reaction. Fear causes me to overestimate the size of danger. In doing so, I become less confident in my ability to conquer the battle. I want to run where I am fit enough to stay and fight.
Later that weekend, I would face a more spiritual encounter with fear. I felt it to lay hands on and pray over a family in the middle of a busy public area. As I stared at the people, my eyes teared up and a voice inside said “Go.” But I did not go. There were too many watching. My feet planted themselves in the ground as a testament of how afraid I was to be emotionally and spiritually vulnerable in the presence of people, even if they were just people I would never see again. See, how I totally gave power to a harmless threat?
They say that perfect love casts out fear. And by they, I mean GOD…the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. It is Him who is perfect love. If I embraced Perfect Love’s message to me, the fear would have stood no chance.
Fear blocks us from real love.
Two weeks later I would volunteer at my church’s Bible camp, where the theme was FEARLESS. All week, I learned from Noah’s triumph over fear in obeying God. I was worried what people would think about one prayer and this man spent over 100 years building a ginormous ark for an impending flood despite the lunacy of this message from God. Whew, faith!
Our pastor’s wife also said that “our walk with God is one step at a time.” So maybe it took me a whole month to pick up my heavily planted legs but I took a step last night. And in that effort, Love slayed my fear. Spiritually because I did a thing God has called of me.
But, also, Love physically [or literally] drove out my fear. 4 women at church gave me a hug last night! 3 of them I had never known before, I am actually quite averse to hugging because. Bingo. Emotional vulnerability. But God instructed them to do something small so as to comfort me in taking that step. And that’s the power of Love!
This is no measly 4-foot gator. I met him at my local nature preserve last fall, and ‘though I’ve got no measuring tape for an eye, he’s at least 8 feet. And look at the manatees, fearless in the presence of what we might call a monster.
We know manatees as sea-cows, the sweet creatures that love getting their bellies rubbed. Sea-cows are basically a Floridian symbol of love of peace.
So if fear blocks us from embracing love, then the opposite is true, Love certainly saves us from fear.
To a Friday full of Flourish! May the inspiration strike,
Flourishing Friday post #8, last one here. These Friday posts are about reflection, creativity, and inspiration. Occasionally, I will share my own expressions through art here and on my Instagram profile @Mama_Equis.