That Old Familiar Fear

Last night, I was afraid.

Head hurting and almost too exhausted to sleep, I tapped open my email before turning off the light.  My collaborator wanted me in Peru, my devices ready to go, in a few short weeks, and they weren’t even built yet.  I felt that lurch in my stomach – the lurch where you’re at the top of a roller coaster that’s about to drop.

That lurch has become “that old familiar fear.”  It comes often on the heels of a migraine, or as this introvert is about to step into something completely new.  And it’s always at night. It’s the fear that the world is caving in around me, that I won’t live up to whatever expectations people have of me, that my friends’ lives will fall apart, that everything will go horribly wrong.  It was especially vivid in the first years of my illness; I remember my parents holding and rocking their baby girl, who was crying about almost nothing, but a nothing that loomed large in my weary mind.

Last night, I recognized it, I named it, and it receded.  Why?

– I’m healthier.  Perhaps West Nile is slowly releasing its grip on my brain.

– I’m married.  Last night I came into the living room where Greg was still working and curled up beside him on the couch.  The weight of his arm quietly wrapped around me in that moment and the knowledge that I no longer adventure alone are powerful.

– I have a trustworthy God.  Greg’s presence, though powerful and a gift from God, isn’t enough.  I called out to God and He calmed me.  He reminded me that this fear was old and familiar, and that He had brought me safely through every other thing I have feared, big and little.  Each time He brings me through, He reminds me of His perfect trustworthiness.  He uses every time I fear to build up my trust in Him.  And, He granted me the gift of blessed sleep.

I’m still concerned and working hard to get everything ready for Peru.  God asks us to participate in what He’s doing, and it often requires a lot of hard work.  Tonight, I am mostly at peace.  Fragments of “Be Still, My Soul” have been playing all day in my head, and my soul has stilled.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.

Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake…


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