Fear, Failure & Other Silliness

I have NOT done lots of things in my life because I didn’t want to:
a) look silly
b) fail
c) get hurt
d) lose
e) admit I was afraid
f) ask for help
g) all of the above

In school, I didn’t try out for anything unless I was fairly certain I would succeed. I avoided any activities that might be above my current capabilities. I didn’t want to fall and maybe be hurt. If I did take a risk and then I fell, I NEVER tried again. (It’s amazing I learned to ride a bicycle!) I stuck with the things I could do best and pretended I didn’t care about the rest of it.

As I matured, I learned that there were times when taking the risk was worth it. It was okay to try and to fail. I actually found that I could excel at looking silly and survive! I’ll never be a champion skater (or even very good for that matter!), but I can say that I tried. And fell. Many, many times. On a few occasions, I’ve been forced to face my fear of heights and bugs and snakes and telephones and have lived to tell about it even if I still get a bit nauseated at the memories.

One area in which I continue to struggle and grow in is developing true relationships. I’ve never had a problem meeting people. I can be friendly and even helpful. But, when it comes to really allowing another person past my personal fire-wall, that’s a different story. Because behind this facade is a person that fears the risk of transparency. You may discover that I’m actually silly or shallow. I may not be able to live up to your expectations. What if you don’t like me or find me annoying? Will you stick around if I admit that I’m afraid or that I desperately need your help? What will I do if you let me down? And those fears have tried to rob me of the joy of truly knowing and loving others.

There are no guarantees. Some people have come into my life for a specific time and now our lives follow different paths. There are people who I have loved and mourned when they were unwilling or unable to return that love. And then there are the people who are so deeply and richly ingrained in my life and memories that even time and distance cannot break the bond. I’ve had my heart broken and bruised through the years. There have been times that I promised God and myself that I would NEVER allow anyone the opportunity to hurt me that deeply ever again. But, as the pain subsides and the new normal becomes more familiar, I know that I need to step out of my safe zone. And, I’m so glad I haven’t given up on loving and caring about others. For all the tears and pain, I’ve also experienced so much love and joy.

If I had waited until love was safe and hassle-free, I would never have married. If we had waited until everything was perfect in our lives and in our world to have children, I wouldn’t have Zachary & Gracie. If I wait until there is no risk of being hurt before I love and care about others, I’ll live a very lonely, empty life. If I only live the parts of my life that come with guarantees, I’ll never know what it is to live life fully. Every day, I ask God for guidance and wisdom and protection. And every day, He reminds me that I am loved.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 NIV

Powerless

There are days when I just feel powerless. Helpless in the face of all that life is bringing to me.

Friends in pain and I’m unable to stop the hurting.
Hearts broken when love is denied and all I can do is watch.
Growing pains in the “new” reality of life, adjusting to the unwelcome changes.
I can only watch in confusion as the “bad guys” seem to succeed and the “good guys” suffer.

But. . .

I’ve learned that pain forces me to move, to change and to grow. To endure.

I’ve realized that not all love is good. There’s wisdom in the saying “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Broken hearts do mend. There will always be scars and fears. And, we learn to use caution before giving our hearts away too freely, too easily.

I try to accept and adjust to the new reality that each day brings to me. Because, what choice do I really have? Change may not be welcome, but it is inevitable. Change is often GOOD. Instead of fighting every change, I’m trying to move on with grace and acceptance.

I still question the fairness of life. I struggle with forgiveness. What does it look like? What if no one asks for it? Do I really have to forgive and forget?

Ultimately, God is the only one that understands the reasons. I have to turn it over to Him on a daily basis.

And, I still ask “Why?”

Fear

Fear. We all suffer from it. We all deny it. Too often, fear dictates the decisions and choices made throughout life’s journey. Fear may be judged rational or irrational, but it is still fear.

I have a phobia (a PC word for fear) of phones. Not talking on them, but calling others on the phone. I don’t know why. For as long as I can remember, dialing a number to call someone on the phone made my stomach hurt and my hands sweat. I love to talk on the phone. As long as I’m on the receiving end of the call, I can talk for hours. Part of my fear is getting a wrong number. Part of it is disturbing the other person. But, mostly its an irrational fear that the person on the other end is just being polite and doesn’t really want to talk to me and is making bored/annoyed faces on the other end of the line. I’m sure there have been many lost opportunities in relationships because I avoid making those phone calls. This carries over into my life today. I can TEXT anyone. And, I still avoid actual phone calls.

Although it is not often addressed as a fear, most people avoid failure. As I was growing up, I was very careful to only attempt things that I was pretty certain would be a success. I made every band for which I ever auditioned. I didn’t play sports because I didn’t think I would be good enough. I probably missed out on some fun experiences because I didn’t want to fail or look silly.

One big fear that I see in almost everyone is fear of the pain caused by rejection. We all want to be liked. We pursue love and acceptance throughout our lives. The fear of being rejected can inhibit and greatly hinder interactions with others. We build walls to protect ourselves. We may allow others into our sanctuary, but even then we restrict how far they may go. Very few people have ever made it behind my walls. Unfortunately, some of the people I invited to peek behind my walls were not good choices. They left damage in their wake. And, as a result, I’m more guarded than ever.

The only way to avoid being rejected or being hurt or failing is to never allow the opportunity to exist. Life can be incredibly lonely and boring if you do this. Some of the deepest hurts I’ve ever experienced were from the same source as some of my greatest joys. To eliminate the hurt and pain inflicted by others, you often must forego the joy and happiness also. The trade-off isn’t equal and it’s not worth it. I have to conquer my fears. I must move forward and take risks in order to live my life fully. I will not always succeed and fear will still exist, but. . .

I must try!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Tired

I’m tired.

I’m tired of being responsible.

I’m tired of “smiling” when it hurts.

I’m tired of solving one problem only to have two more pop up.

I’m tired of tears and pain and sorrow.

I’m tired of broken promises and lies and cheating.

I’m tired of being PC when the truth makes more sense.

I’m tired of insensitivity and immorality and stupidity.

I’m tired of ‘happiness’ at another’s expense.

I’m tired of excuses instead of honesty.

I’m tired of back-stabbing and slander and ugliness.

I’m tired of alone becoming lonely.

I’m tired of death and dying and grief.

I’m just tired of it all.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28-29

Fall

Here’s the deal. Five Minute Friday. You go find the little prompt at the wonderful Lisa-Jo’s blog, set the time and write for five minutes, and then just stop. Where you are, no edits, just publish raw words.

START

Fall…

I don’t like to fall. It hurts. So, I’ve always avoided anything that might include falling: skating, hurdles, climbing trees, etc. I’ve watched my kids throw themselves into all sorts of painful things. My son played football and I cringed every time he was hit. But, at least he wore pads.

And then there’s wrestling! Both my son and my daughter wrestled. They got on a mat with only a small amount of ear protection and wrestled for the longest six minutes of a mom’s life. I’ve seen more pain in the six minutes on the mat than in a full game of football. And my mom’s heart would stop every time my kid hit the floor. Because, the whole point was to get the fall. You worked your heart out to get the opponent to fall. Sometimes, you fall in the process. It’s all part of the grand scheme.

When did I stop working with all my heart to get my opponents to fall? When did I stop working against loneliness and self-doubt? I’ve got to stop being afraid to fall so that I can make my opponents hit that mat and get out of my life.

Love

“I am never going to let anyone get close enough to me to cause this kind of pain ever again.”  That’s  what I vowed soon after the death of my husband.  And, I meant it.  I would avoid the excruciating ordeal of losing another deeply loved person at all costs.   I would guard my teenage children with a passion and they would be my life.  That would be enough.  I had fallen in love once and it was wonderful, but the fear of loss and that punch-in-the-gut feeling was too much to endure again.  And with that, I worked diligently at shutting that part of me down.

At first, it wasn’t too difficult.  I threw myself into activities that didn’t require much of “me.”  I was a football mom, a band mom, a wrestling mom.  I even volunteered to help with track meets and I wasn’t a track mom.  AT church, I led a Bible Fellowship class within our youth group and I directed the Children’s choir.  In those moments when activities didn’t fill my thoughts, Grief took over. There were many friends that were supporting me and trying to help me get on with life.  Unfortunately, I tended to focus on those that offered support and then weren’t really available when I needed their help.  This was further evidence, in my mind at least, that I shouldn’t let anyone into my life. They would only let me down or disappear from my life.  I had to be strong and self-sufficient.  I would take care of Zac and Gracie.  I didn’t need anyone else.  I continued to shut down.

I discovered that you can’t just shut down pieces of yourself. It’s an all or nothing venture.  While I was doing a very good job of keeping myself  “safe” from other people, I was also distancing myself from friends that I wanted and needed. 1 John 4:8 states “Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love.”  In my attempt to never be hurt by love ever again, I had distanced myself from all love:   including, the love of my God. 

 A friend reminded me that the pain I felt after Terry’s death was proportional to love that I’d had for him.  I wouldn’t give up a minute of the time I had with him  in order to hurt less.   So,  although I’m still determined to be strong and self-sufficient in order to take care of my family and myself, I’ve come to the realization that I have to leave myself open to the danger that is inherent in  loving others.  Love doesn’t have to include romance.  I’ve come to value the love that is part of a dear friendship.  But, love will always include the risk of being hurt.  That’s the risk we have to take.  It’s a risk well worth taking!

My God-sized dream for 2013: to grow in my love for God and people.