Breathing Through Fear
I opened my computer to write my blog, and this writing jumped right off the screen. I wrote this about six or seven years ago—and reading this again hit me like a bolt of lightening. When I talk about acting crazy, I am not talking about the certifiable crazy that may cause one to be hospitalized for a period of time. I am talking about not functioning like my norm, being stressed, and over or under reacting, possibly showing all my insecurities in an unhealthy manner, or at least in my eyes. So, here it is:
I just realized that I am afraid. Hmm, who would have thought? My pastor said he never envisioned me as a person who got ever afraid, and I looked at him and said, “I am human.” I think it is okay to be afraid. What is not okay is what I do about it. I cannot dump my fear on others. I cannot forget that God is there, or forget he holds me close. I should not be afraid.
While I was driving in my car—turning off the music and the noise around me—thinking and thinking. Why am I reacting and responding the way I am? I have a friend who deserves better than that in our friendship. I do not have to let my fears leak all over the place. I am sure he has been afraid in his life, and maybe he even acted out then. Maybe he understands. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is what I need to learn how to respond to my fears.
What had me so afraid? I realized what it was—two friends both with health issues. Both knowing that they can go a long time with these issues, or tomorrow they could be devastatingly ill or even gone. To have two people share this with me about themselves in a 24 hour period of time was more devastating for me than I realized.
I have known the first friend since 1991, when she lovingly became my friend during the worst part of my life. She became a shoulder for me, has always been a great listener, and because of her, I have become a better listener, but I will never reach her greatness as a person who can listen. She is the best! When she told me about her mini-strokes, I knew she was afraid. I know she wants to be as healthy as possible, and these past two years, the effects of being diabetic since her youth are starting to take its toll on her. I have been able to be her friend by listening. I couldn’t let her know how afraid I was to think I might lose my friend. That would be selfish of me. So, I bottled that in, and became her cheerleader. But deep in me I am fearful of losing the person who helped me get through my huge codependency issues and find a life that worked.
The day before she told me about her mini-strokes, another person told me he had a stress test. His cardiologist was waiting in the room when he arrived. My friend didn’t succeed in the test, and now his doctor is sending him to another cardiologist at the big teaching hospital. He is not my friend like the first person, but he is the closest thing to a “best friend at work.” Because he is a peer, I can talk to him about any issue, which I cannot do with my subordinates. He will listen to me when I am having a bad day at work. The last time I did this, he looked at me and said that he didn’t know how to help. I told him that I didn’t need his help, I needed him to just hear me. His doctor is very concerned that without controlling his high blood pressure (something that has been unsuccessful so far in three years of treatment), that he is very prone to having a stroke. I know deep inside him there is fear—neither of his parents lived past 55 years old, and he is 56.
How did I realize this was why I was reacting? I am acting crazy, weird, or any other similar word, as I did when my dad died. And as much as I loved my dad, he was far from my best friend. But I lost my dad—I lost the ability of ever making our relationship better, although it was the best it had been in all my years. He was just a hard man. Now I realize that I do not handle loss well. When I lose someone in my life, I lose a piece of me, so it scares me that I will lose a piece of me (even a big piece of me) if I start losing people I really care about. So, I go into crazy-making. My mind is flooded with thoughts and fears, and I react to life and people in a way that makes me uncomfortable.
So, I say to myself, “No, Andrea — go to your ‘God Spot’.” Go where I know I have a great and loving God. Feel his love. Feel it pour over me. That vision of being poured over me is so cool. His love poured over me. Too bad when I was baptized, that the water wasn’t poured over me! I get the pouring now. I was immersed when I was baptized. That works too. Immerse myself in his love—and kindness—and forgiveness. Close my eyes, hold my breath and feel it. I didn’t feel it back when I was 17, but I feel it now. Feel God’s Spirit pour over me, immersing me with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Yes, these are the fruits of the Spirit. This is my gift from God—first his sacrifice for my life, his death on the cross, his giving me life with him, through him, and for him. And he pours out the Holy Spirit on me—and gives me these gifts of the fruits of the Spirit. They are a gift, and I have to open the package, take them out and try them on. Because God knows me and my heart, these will fit me perfectly—no return needed for this gift. Bask in the gifts. Don’t be afraid. I cannot be bold and courageous when afraid. I tend to let go of self-control when I am afraid. My emotions are on my sleeve and hard to control. God gave me self-control in the perfect size just to fit me. Try it on. Look in the mirror. It looks good.
He gives me forgiveness, not only from him, but also a perfect measure for me to forgive all those who disappoint me. Don’t be afraid. Life on earth is disappointing. Forgive. Feel the clothing of forgiveness wrap around me. It feels good to let go of that sorrow, anger and fear. To know I can love and not be afraid of not being loved back, or just not having someone there. God will give me what I need. If I lose my friends, and if I need friends, God will lead me to new ones. Don’t be afraid.
I need to be kind, good and gentle. Funny, today another friend told me that I am too hard on myself. I forget sometimes to be kind, good, and gentle to myself. I am not acting in the Spirit if I also don’t treat myself that way also. God gives me the lesson in the tough stuff. Fear is not my friend. Fear pulls me out of my ‘God Spot’. Jesus said, “Do not fear. I am with you.” Breathe that in, Andrea. If God is with me, who can be against me? Breathe that in, Andrea. Breathe that in.
Maybe, after all, it is not good to be afraid. I shouldn’t focus the waves and the storm. Jesus said to look at him, and the disciples walked on the stormy waters. When they turned away from looking at Christ, they started to sink. I turned my eyes. I forgot who is always my friend. I forgot who holds me regardless. Why do I so quickly forget? I am human! Until I see Christ face to face — until I am in his presence I will forget. I will try my best not to, but when I do, I need to look back at him, and be loving, patient, kind, good, forgiving and gentle with myself, just as I need to be with others. Just because I have not always felt that love from others, I get that from my God, and that can carry me. Yes, carry me. Close my eyes and feel the lightness of being carried. Carried in his love and grace. Carried — I’m not doing the work — Jesus already did it for me. He is carrying me. Close my eyes, breathe. My Savior is carrying me.
Do not be fearful. My friends are all here. No one is going anywhere — at least today. And if they leave, Christ will hold me. Breathe . . . Breathe . . . Breathe. I can be bold and courageous. I can love my friends. I can give to them what God has given to me. His beautiful gift of life, love and forgiveness, wrapped more exquisitely than any gift that I can ever receive from anyone, or ever give. I am breathing!