More on Fear

Last week I had a discussion with my parents and my sister about being incapacitated in life, knowing that something is wrong but not knowing what to do about it.  I have finally realized that my fear of pain is inextricably bound up in my desire to “do the right thing.”  In and of itself, the right thing is, well, the right thing.  But what I realized was that I have agonized over every decision from what flavor of ice cream I should choose to which man I should marry simply because I (falsely) believed that if I got it all right, I would avoid pain.  If I pick the right flavor of ice cream, I will like it and not be disappointed that I didn’t get another one.  (Or perhaps won’t be sad if I never get to come try the other flavors, ha.)  If I marry the right man, we will be happy (of course, arguments are normal from time to time, but overall happiness here), stay in love, never even consider divorce.  If I get it all right, pain will never come.

A friend and I were talking about newborns and I shared how much I struggle with fear of SIDS.  I constantly check their breathing, sometimes starting up in the bed, heart racing, scrambling to find them (my husband–the right man!–has felt the brunt of this more than once).  My friend told me she doesn’t struggle with that fear.  She knows it is possible, and of course, if it happened, she would be devastated, but she knows there is nothing she could do about it.  Ah, but there’s the rub.  I feel like I could.  If only I had checked right when they stopped breathing and resuscitated.  If only I noticed the telltale warning signs of whatever preceded it.  If only we had bought the right mattress or sheets or….

I’m finally understanding that I cannot bear the responsibility for the pain in my (or anyone else’s) life.  That I cannot base my decisions or actions on whether or not it will avoid pain.  There will be pain in my life no matter what, and it’s not just because ”this is a fallen world,” which seems like a lame excuse to me.  It’s because God loves me.  He knows what I need, what will stimulate me to love and good deeds.  ” ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him.  For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.’  It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.  All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness..”  Hebrews 12:5-11  I used to think this referred to punishment.  Discipline = Punishment  But no, it doesn’t, actually.  Discipline is training, growing, molding, shaping.  It’s positive, not negative.  It’s given to those whom the Lord loves.  It’s grace-ful, not punitive.  In other words, no matter how perfectly I live life, I should still hope for the Lord’s discipline.  Hope for the pain that will bring about the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  And that peaceful fruit?  That may just be the ability to love without fear.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”   1 John 4:18

Feeding the Glutton

I am most definitely NOT a glutton for punishment; in fact, my innate fear is the fear of pain (which I only discovered recently, more on that later).  Rather, I’m a glutton for information.  And, at times, chocolate.  Let’s be real; ALL the time for chocolate.

But information.  I crave it.  I want to know all there is to know about all there is to know.  Homeschooling my children is like a fairyland for me.  (Pray for my children.)  And I think this may in part explain why I’m your worst Myers-Briggs nightmare.  I don’t just find out my personality type–or yours–and move on with life.  I analyze, Google, discuss, read, process, and repeat ad nauseum.  Except it’s not ad nauseum to me; it’s exhilarating.  And (also recently discovered) an escape.  From the aforementioned pain.

Don’t think I’m being all dramatic here.  Pain for me isn’t some debilitating chronic illness or deep emotional trauma.  Pain is having to pick my tush off the couch and sweep the floor or stop searching Zillow for new houses (even though we’re not moving) to fold clothes.  Pain for me is the mundane, like housework, paperwork, errands, or any of the other numerous tasks that basically define the life of a mom with young kids.  Or the life of anyone, for that matter.  Somehow my personality type (ENFP — Enneagram Type 7) thinks work shouldn’t apply to me.  Let me learn, read, discover, adventure, visit, travel, play….anything but work.  I can work hard, but only if it’s something I actually want to do, and only as long as it remains enjoyable.  The instant something feels tedious, I drop it like a rotten potato (I almost said egg, but that would be bad because it would pop and THEN where would we be? Not reading this post, which may or may not be a good thing….).

So, all this rambling leads me to three things: 1. I love to learn, and to share what I’ve learned, and to learn what other people have learned.  Can be good, can be bad, mostly I just need to be aware of that as being unique to me.  2. I fear pain, which means I avoid anything that feels painful to me, like work.  Or relationships that REQUIRE work, avoiding them and only gravitating to those naturally bosom-friend-types.  3. Anything worthwhile requires action, i.e. not just intake but output, i.e. WORK.  And this blog is worthwhile.  So here I am, working.