I don’t necessarily know where it originated from, though I have my suspicions; nor do I understand why it has had such a hold on me over the years, though I have my suspicions about that too. Before anyone tells me I need to just deal with it, don’t worry. I have been dealing with it, both on my own, with a qualified counselor, and with God, because believe me – that’s the only way I will work through this.
What kinds of fear? You know, it’s kind of odd trying to answer that, because I feel like the answer is everything, and yet nothing at all. I have a lot of your typical fears – bees, spiders, being trapped in closed spaces. And I bet there’d be a lot longer of a list if I allowed myself the time to actually think about it, though who really wants to spend their time thinking about the things they’re afraid of?
Besides those, a lot of what I’ve been finding myself afraid of can be so much more simple. (Simpler?) Like making phone calls. I do not like to make phone calls. I find that I’m always afraid that if I make the phone call (say, to the doctor, the bank, the car shop), I’m going to find out that something is wrong. And not just wrong. WRONG. Like, end of the world kind of wrong. So I don’t make the phone calls. Which means that things always get pushed back, and not done in a timely fashion, etc.
Why? Why am I so afraid of this? Nine times out of ten, when I do end up making those dreaded phone calls, the situation is never as large as I fear it to be, and so the time and energy I spent worrying over whatever issue it might have been was wasted.
Most of all, what I seem to be afraid of is myself. I’m afraid that I’m going to be alone forever. I’m afraid I’ll never be good enough, perfect enough. I’m afraid that I don’t have what it takes to get things done. And so I settle. I get comfortable in the life I build up around myself, and never want anything to change. Back off people – my bubble is my own, and it’s nice and squishy and comfortable, and I don’t want to change a thing!
And that worked for me. That worked for over ten years. Then things started changing, and I didn’t know how to handle it very well, and let’s just say that it was quite the storm that I went through, learning with God’s help how to handle it. Trying to talk about all that change is worthy of several more posts, simply because there was just so much of it. (And I’m not going to do any of it now, even though I’d like to. I have a feeling I’m already going to be verbose enough.) Thankfully, with God’s help, I started learning how to handle the things in my life that changed.
I knew I also needed things to change for me, but allowing myself the freedom to make those changes was still something I needed to work on. I was finding that I didn’t want anything to change in my life because of that fear. I was afraid that if I tried anything, I was automatically setting myself up for failure. If I was going to get a new job, I wanted that new job RIGHT THIS INSTANT. I choked up when I tried to think of all the steps in between, the steps I’d need to get to the point where I would have a new job. Those small steps in between? Too much. I want to write. I have the story ideas, but if I can’t get them down in absolute perfection, I seize up, and don’t write anything. If I need to get from Point A to Point Z, I would much rather just jump there and be done with everything in between; but ho-boy, if I think about the amount of work that’s required to do that, I would start to shake and freeze and revert back to my little bubble. Oh good, the walls are back, it’s comfy, I’ll just curl up in this little ball right here and everything will be okay so long as I shut the world out.
And just when I felt like the fear was getting to its most paralyzing point, God brought several people into my life that I could open up to, and share this debilitating fear with. They prayed with and for me, offered wise counsel, kept me accountable, and helped me begin the process acknowledging the fear so I would be able to work through it and past it with it no longer paralyzing me. It’s because God is good like that. He’s always been faithful to me, and I seem to have a hard time remembering that.
So I started making small changes to things. And I mean small. I stopped listening to one radio station in favor of another because I finally realized that I didn’t enjoy the music the one station was playing. I got my hair trimmed because it desperately needed it. (Don’t ask me why I was afraid of those things; that could be yet another post.) I stopped letting the issues of a close relative affect the way I handled my life and viewed myself. I started valuing my own thoughts and opinions. I don’t think I would have been able to make some of the bigger changes I needed to until I dealt with the smaller matters of the heart.
I knew there would need to be big changes; mainly, I knew it was getting to be time for me to move out of my childhood home into a place of my own. Trust me – I think I went through a year of just telling myself that I needed to do this before I actually started working on it.
That was a little over a year ago. I went to a Homebuyer’s Fair in my hometown to get the information I needed because I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I didn’t imagine myself ever finding a home, but at least I was taking a step right? It wasn’t like I was buying a house the very next day, even though that’s what I kept thinking. I had to keep reminding myself that this was just another step. I would find my house when God was ready for me to find it, and not a moment sooner.
And then – a year ago today, everything changed. If you had asked me a year ago if I’d be where I am today, I would have laughed in your face. Granted, I am still afraid. But in an instant, God showed me that with Him, I don’t have to be afraid. He has everything in His very capable hands, and will give me exactly what I need when I need it, and not before. And when I do feel that fear approaching, I only have to look at it, call it what it is, and refute it. I tell it it no longer has any power over me.
It was just a regular day. It was a Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day. My younger sister’s birthday. I wasn’t exactly excited about returning back to work after a holiday, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I had no grand plans to accomplish anything regarding my potential search for a house, even though I was getting bugged about it by one particular family member who was keeping me accountable. It was rainy that day, and chillier than late May typical can be. My allergies were in full swing, so I was wearing my glasses instead of taking the time to put my contacts in. It’s funny the details you can remember with such exactness.
I was driving on my way to work, on a portion of the major interstate that is a section of nothing but two-lane overpasses. I was in the left lane, moving at a fair clip (for that time of the morning). I came up to an 18-wheeler. I hung behind it for a little while because I’ve had a history with these things (one had taken off a mirror of my vehicle a number of years prior). I eventually decided that I needed to pass it, since I was approaching my exit. I thought to myself right before I made this decision – “Watch, as soon as I decide to do this, he’s going to decide he wants to change lanes.”
I decided to try and pass him anyway. And as soon as I started forward, the 18-wheeler put his blinker on, and instead of waiting to see if there was anyone next to him in the lane he was trying to get to, he immediately started to come into my lane. Right where I was.
I couldn’t swerve to the left – that would have put me right into the median. I couldn’t speed up – he was still coming, and I would have been squished like a pancake. I did the only thing that made sense in that split second. I slammed on my brakes. It happened so fast, I didn’t even have a chance to lay on my horn. Not that I think it would have mattered.
I could feel my brakes locking up because of how hard I was pushing. Because the roads were slippery, I could feel my car starting to swerve, so I just closed my eyes, held on to the steering wheel, prayed, and did everything I could possibly do to not move my neck, because I knew things were about to get dangerous.
In a fraction of a second, my car slipped into the median on the left and that flipped my car, which then skidded down the road for some yards. When everything stopped moving, I was able to unbuckle my seat belt and climb out of the window to safety. The only injury to myself was a small mark on my neck from where the seat belt cut in, a scrape on my knee and a small headache. I was taken to the local hospital, and discharged almost immediately. I was sore for several weeks afterwards, but truly – I didn’t even have a concussion! (It helps if you remember to protect your neck.)
My life didn’t flash before my eyes during the experience, like some people say it does when you feel like you might be about to die. I did have a few random thoughts, which I don’t know where half of them came from, but I guess that’s just the way my brain works. (I typed them up here, and still find it amusing to go back through them.)
What I did come away with was a conviction from God. There was nothing I could have done to save myself from what happened. He was the only one who could have protected me. I knew in that moment that if I didn’t walk away from this, then I was going to be home with my heavenly Father, and I had a total peace about it. I walked away from it. What was I going to learn from it? That if I can walk away from a rolled car in one piece, with God’s help, I can do anything.
I made the call that I’d been avoiding to the bank just a couple of days later. And seven short months later, I bought my first house.
There was a lot of fear that had to be dealt with in between times, but God is working on me. I’m reminded almost daily of what happened, for I still have to go to work every day, and the interstate is still the best way to get there. There’s a little mark that has my name on it, and I drive past it and I’m reminded that I need to punch fear in the face. Every single day.
(Just so long as I don’t have to roll with it any more.)