Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Matter of Faith

When we think of being scared, we often think of children being scared of the dark or afraid of thunderstorms.  Or maybe we think about our own phobias such as claustrophobia, arachnophobia, or acrophobia.  I used to be scared of thunder and lightning.  If they were during the day, I had to be right next to my mom or dad to feel safe.  At night, I would call to my mom to come get me and I would sleep the rest of the night in my parents’ bed.  As I got older, my fear slowly subsided to the point that now thunderstorms barely faze me, unless there is an extremely loud clap of thunder.  Now, I actually enjoy the peacefulness of a gentle daytime thunderstorm.   I have, however, developed a slight case of claustrophobia and a big case of the fear of the deep end of a pool, whatever that is called (weird, I know).  Most adults, I am sure, have some phobia or another.  But these are phobias that can be pushed aside by simply avoiding those situations which bring on the fear.  We do not fear if we aren’t near its source.  But there is a different kind of fear, one that is constantly simmering in the back of our subconscious minds.  It is a fear that we try to push away as often as possible because we know it can cripple us.  This unwanted fear is not a fear about a thing or a place or an event that we are aware of.  It is the fear of the unknown, the “what ifs.”

Growing up, I did not bother myself with the “what ifs.”  I was too busy playing or going to school or shopping with my mom.  If I did think about the future, it was either about some upcoming event I was excited about or what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My dad would often express his distaste for my and my mom’s shopping trips to the mall or for the places I would go with my friends.  As a teenager when I was allowed to stay out late, I didn’t understand why, the next morning, my parents expressed how they didn’t sleep well because they were worried about me.  Why did they worry?  I was a good girl who stayed out of trouble and away from the wrong people.  What was there to worry about?   

Now, I have my own kids.  Now, I understand.  Now, I fear the “what ifs.”  I am in charge of these two little lives.  It is my job while they are very young to keep them alive.  I am responsible for teaching them safety, which has been more of a struggle than I was expecting.  What if I fail?  What if I am unable to instill values and morals in their minds and they grow up making poor, unhealthy decisions?  Right now, mommy and daddy are their world.  We are all they know and the ones they trust.  What if something happens to us?  Randall and I have so many great plans for our lives, things we want to do and places we want to go and to simply grow old together.  What if one or both of us don’t make it to those days?  What if our health fails earlier than anticipated?  I am not happy to admit that these thoughts cross my mind, but I also think it is only natural to fear the unknown.  Children are scared not because they learn to be scared, but because their little minds do not yet know what the bright light and loud crashes are coming from outside, or understand that the scary shapes and shadows in their rooms at night are just their favorite toys they play with during the day.  Similarly, we as adults do not know what is in store for us and, because we have become accustomed to the idea that we will live long, happy lives, it can be scary to think that we won’t be able to live out the plans we have for ourselves.

Every person surely has their own unique set of fears, their own list of “what ifs” to worry about.  But military wives share a common fear, a huge “what if” that I do not think is necessary to spell out.  Nearly every military wife can vouch for a time when her husband was deployed and a non-military woman asked her if she worries about her husband.  The answer to that question is obvious, but it is not just during deployment that we do so.  Even when they are stationed on the home front, their jobs are still dangerous.  As a pilot, Randall often has night flights that go very late into the night.  Many times I lie awake in bed unable to sleep until he gets home at 2:00 in the morning.  Sometimes he tells me what time he should be home, and I’ll fall asleep only to wake up after that time and he’s still not home.  Talk about unsettling!  This fear, however, is something we as military wives learn to fight.  Instead of letting it take hold of us, we grab it by the horns, tie it up with duct tape, and lock it in a closet.  Every so often, a piece of it will break free and our mind will stray. Sometimes we can catch it before it takes hold, and sometimes we end up struggling with it for a while.  But eventually we send it right back to the closet.  The thing is, there is something so much stronger than this fear, something that sends the fear running with its tail between its legs.  This something is faith—faith in our country, faith in our husbands, faith in the goodness of what they are sent to do, and faith in God, that His plans for us are “plans for good and not for disaster” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Life is full of “what ifs.”  Chances are the older we get, the more “what ifs” we will fear.  But there is no reason our fear needs to take hold of our lives.  When we have faith, we believe in what is good, we focus on the here and now, and we have the strength to keep fear at bay.  Just as the military stands up our soldiers to fight four our country, we, at home, stand up faith at our front doors to fend off fear.  When our faith is strong, fear cannot survive.  I never imagined that fear would be such a force in my life.  But every time I hear it knocking, it never fails that my faith knocks it dead in its tracks.       

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post. I can relate strongly to it. Our faiths may be different but I know I old on to mine as much as possible and it has helped me through so much, including deployments. I think my faith is keeping me sane right now.