I was 4 years old. I remember waking with a strange sensation in my chest. It was as if someone had reached inside and squeezed my heart and lungs.
I stumbled out of bed and made a beeline for my parents room, did a flying leap on their bed, all the while screaming.
I was scared to death.
This wasn’t my first brush with the monster called fear, but it was the first one memory painted on the walls of my mind.
Throughout life, I would do battle with fear. Sometimes I won, but most of the time I lost. Miserably.
There are too many instances to tell of the times fear snuck back in and attempted to set up camp.
The most recent was a few years back on a hot April day. Our youngest daughter Charlie had her port placed and received her first dose of chemo 2 days prior.
I had gone to bed the night before in a daze….numb from a rare cancer diagnosis I didn’t understand.
Exhausted from taking care of 3 kids all age 2 and under.
Wishing to be a good role model, friend, and pastors wife when all I felt was inadequate.
Missing my family desperately.
Guilt-ridden at what we had involuntarily signed our baby up for….liquid poison to be put in her veins while I held her close and whispered it will be ok.
Trying to stay healthy but frustrated because my body was betraying me.
Sleep deprived from all the “what ifs” that made my heart race when night fell.
Yet, if you asked me, I would say that I was fine and truly didn’t feel anxiety or fear about it all. Yet.
I had no idea what the next day, months and years would hold.
Early in the day, around 5:25 we were wakened by a horrible howling screeching sound. I jumped up to look outside, just before straight line winds and tornadoes ripped through our side of town. My phone had a power surge and died. Darkness engulfed our home and my heart.
This was just the beginning of what would be one of the largest super tornado outbreaks in the history of Central Alabama.
The worst if it would arrive about 12 hours later.
Entire neighborhoods were flattened in less than a minute.
People were talking to those they love on the phone one minute, and were forever silenced the next.
From that day forward, I downward spiraled straight into the clutches of fears tight grip.
He had me.
Or so he thought.
The next 3 years would be a time of valleys and mountain tops but through it all, healing…..both for our baby girl, and for me.
Fast forward to January 2014, Charlie was due for scans. She arrived ready to be sedated for an MRI of her brain.
She had relapsed a few months prior so this was a crucial test to make sure the new chemo was working.
The nurse anesthetist was getting her all hooked up and checking vitals when I noticed “the look”.
She asked if Charlie was taking medicine for her heart, because her heart rate was extremely low for someone her age.
After much discussion with the anesthesia team they switched meds used to sedate her and assured me she would be fine.
(Just not with the drug they had planned on using 5 minutes prior.)
I felt the familiar pangs of worry, fear and dread as I waited.
By the way, Web MD is not your friend at a time like this!
Just. Say. No.
Then I kinda got mad. Okay, I was furious. I wanted to run through the halls of the UIHC screaming “Enough!!!!!”
Since that would have landed me on a couch or wandering gated gardens with limited blinking reflexes, I just said it under my breath.
Later, I prayed over my sleeping girl and then I had something to say to the enemy.
I told him he had NO authority over this precious baby.
He had NO authority in our home.
He had NO authority to bring confusion, doubt, guilt or fear to my mind.
I put this prayer on repeat over the next year or so.
Then came then fateful family outing to the ice rink…..but that’s another story for another day. 🙂
Last week, Charlie had scans again. She can now do them without sedation but she has become fearful of the IV needle.
We had 3 nurses and Child Life in the room for an IV stick and Charlie cried. Really cried. But she held still and let them do it and it was easily placed on the first try!
We all cheered for her and told her how brave she was and she got to pick out a prize.
This was our conversation on the way home:
Me: You were SO brave today!!
Charlie: No…not really. I cried. I was scared, Mommy.
Me: But you did it!! Do you know that’s what being brave is? Doing something even when you are scared! You were amazing!
Charlie smiles, takes a deep breath and begins to hum. 🙂
Moments of unhealthy fear will happen from time to time. For all of us.
It may manifest in classic anxiety, panic or worry.
It may cause you to get angry or short with your words.
It may cause you to withdraw from relationships, from God, from peace.
It may put you into overdrive and you may become a workaholic or obsess over seemingly harmless goals.
At the end of the day, I hope you know that as the popular song says, He is a Good Good Father!
He saw every moment, knows every concern, sees every tear and every trembling hand, and hears every word.
I hope in the midst of it all you can hear Him say…..
“You were SO brave today!”
And I hope you smile, take a deep breath and maybe even hum.