The storm is moving in quickly. Half of the sky is blue and the sun is shining brightly. But, there is a line of clouds moving fast to cover up all that is left of the beautiful day. The sun quickly vanishes and we must run to our vehicles. The wind picks up and in it’s anger tree branches fly, dirt swarms. The birds stopped chirping hours ago, already finding shelter before the storm approached. And yet, we were caught off guard. It took us by surprise and gave us no warning.
I remember this moment in South Dakota very well. My family had just left Casey’s. A well known mid-western restaurant and souvenir shop. My dad yelled at us to run to the van and sure enough right as we shut the doors all hell broke loose on us. We drove to our hotel and could barely get indoors. The rain was coming down hard and our car was shaking back and forth threatening to tip over. We were drenched when we got inside. My parents immediately turned on the TV. Sure enough my biggest fear was happening. Tornado warnings were flashing on every channel. They were giving directions as to what to do if we were caught in the tornado’s path. My gut began to convulse and I ran to the bathroom. I dry heaved for twenty-minutes straight. Tears falling from my eyes. My body trembling uncontrollably. My heart knowing that this was the last of me. This was the last I’d see my family.
Well, Here I am! Not dead. But still very afraid of tornado’s and the fact that I could lose my family. I am naturally a very fearful person. I’m afraid that today is the day the government strikes. I’m afraid that everyone I love will be taken from me. It’s a fear I’ve had since I was a wee child. And becoming an adult didn’t help any.
The last time I trembled in fear was three years ago. I’m embarrassed to say it but it had to do with moon and stars. Crazy I know. That was also the last time I threw up and didn’t sleep.
What was the reason you ask? I won’t tell you. But I will admit this: Fear is typically the reaction when you don’t understand something. I don’t understand why people take families away from each other and torment them. I don’t understand why God allows certain things. It’s what I’m not sure of that makes me frightened.
I am often told to not run away from my fears. Unfortunately that is my default. I immediately react with harsh words when I don’t like what I’m hearing. I am quick to run away from situations in order to not participate in that which makes me afraid. Another quote I hear often is “face your fears. It will bring you the greatest freedom.” I still don’t know if I believe that one, but honestly, I haven’t tried it to know for sure.
This year has been the mark of some great growth in my life. I have found that in stating my opinions and making clear my boundaries, I have overcome some huge obstacles. One of them being, my fears. I have been able to state loud and clear that those who think they can speak with such authority over matters that only scare people are ridiculous. I don’t have to listen to them. I’ve also found I’ve become rude. But sometimes in order to survive, you have to be rude. (maybe not totally true, but for now, yes.)
I am not facing my fears head on. I am taking them slowly one at a time and finding that although they might be a true reality, They aren’t as big as I had imagined them in my head. Now as the storm quickly approaches, I find that it just as quickly, disappears when I stand my ground. I am learning how to pick and choose my battles. Which is a very hard but very important lesson to learn.
Live in the moment. Stand strong and don’t be sucked into your fear. Remember that everything is bigger in our mind than it is in reality.
Keep that at the forefront of your mind.