Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What are you afraid of?

What are you afraid of?

For the longest time, I feared death. Well, that's not true. I was just plain scared of dead bodies. I even know where that fear came from. Here's the story.

I would have been in early elementary school. One day, mom asked me to run to the church to get Dad for lunch. She could have called him to let him know lunch was ready - aw heck, he came home promptly at noon every day anyway, but it was obviously important for her to get me out of the house for a little while and a 2 block run to the church to walk home with Dad was a great idea.

As I darted into the church, I had to run up the front steps, through the sanctuary to Dad's office in the back. What I didn't realize until I was smack dab in front of it, was that there was going to be a funeral that afternoon and the morticians were there preparing the body for the parade of mourners. I went running up those steps with all of the joy a little girl could have as she went to get her daddy for lunch. I hit the top step just as they were pulling the body up in the casket.

I was stupefied. I couldn't move. Until I did. Back I went down those stairs and I cried and sobbed all the way home. Dad had to make the trek without me. I was finally able to explain to mom what I'd seen and she tried to make it into a non-issue for me, but obviously 40+ years later, I still remember the trauma.

For years I avoided death as often as possible. Dad didn't ask me to play or sing for funerals, I just avoided them. Then, I moved out after college and got a job in a church in Spencer, Iowa. Sharing our parking lot was a terrific funeral home and by golly, I could make some serious extra money by being on call for them whenever they needed a musician. It would be stupid for me to ignore this chance.

The guys were wonderful. They didn't have a clue about my fears, but it always seems as if I was facing some person's loved one in an open casket while either singing or playing. After a year or so, I began to relax. It's still not a favorite thing for me to do, but at least I don't have a strange abhorrence for those situations any longer.

When mom died, Carol, Dad and I sat with her holding her hand until she took her last breath. Death became quite personal to me that night and I realized that mom's final gift to me was removing the overwhelming fear I had.

Her fears were something else. Mom had an intense fear of closed doors. She has friends who remember having to go places with her and walking through the door first so that she could enter a room. Once she'd been in a room she was fine, if the door was clear glass, she was fine. Closed doors terrified her. Carol remembers going places just to ensure that Mom could get into a room to speak or for a class. All Carol had to do was open the door and Mom would be fine.

The funny thing is - when we opened our business, Mom decided that she would make sales calls. Cold calls. She just did it! By herself. She finally had something that was so important to her it overwhelmed her fear.

I still have a lot of fears. Fears that make me say terrible things in reaction to others, or refuse to attempt new adventures. I hate it when I realize that fears stop me from being or doing anything I desire. As soon as I realize that it is fear stopping me, I have to make a decision, whether to allow it to control me or to wrangle control back into my own hands.

Do you recognize your fears? How do you handle them? Do you see any places in your life where you've conquered your fears? Do people around you enable your fear or challenge you to be bigger than your fears?

John said that "perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18)


Rebecca said...

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do” - Eleanor Roosevelt

That quote has helped me overcome more fear in my life that I have ever known and every time I get into a spot wehre I feel paralyzed I think of it... this quote is the reason I moved to Florida, this quote helped me with my agorophobia, it stuck in my head during the drive to Utah and even in small situations like wearing a bathing suit in public it rings in there...but don't get me wrong... I'm still a scardey cat but Im a work in progress!!! xoxoxox

Cayla said...

I used to have a serious fear of germs, and also of vomit, but working in care facilities and in private homes has helped break me of a lot of that. It's gross, so sorry, but a few months ago, I had to do some heavy-duty throwup cleanup, and I thought, "I'd have to do this if I was a parent, too, and I'd hate to make me lie in my own sick if I was the one vomiting--so to heck with being afraid! Just hand me the Lysol!"
I also make a marked effort to drink from someone else's straw, take a bite off of someone else's cookie...if they offer. I don't go hunting for it, but I don't panic if I'm approached with it. If I get sick, I get sick--it's just life! I'll get better! (Plus, if I'm sick enough, I can take a day off of work, hee hee hee!)

There are others, but that's one of the biggest for me. Very small issue in perspective (of course).