February 23, 2012

a way out

If you've read many of my posts, you know by now that I do not consider motherhood to be for the faint of heart.  If you're a mother who finds her job a breeze, you will probably want to just move along, go check out Pinterest or read the Post or something, because this one will just make no sense to you.  For the rest of us . . .

 : : :

I know no one really enjoys having sick children (and if you do - I really, really don't want to hear about it), but the last couple of years I'm embarrassed to say I have become downright fearful about it.

Having grown up on granola and garden veggies (thank you, Mom & Dad!), I've always been interested in God-made, health-promoting nutrition and remedies for sickness.  My "medicine cabinet" has included ginger, elderberry, aloe, prunes, honey, lemon, vinegar, garlic, chicken broth, and Vitamin D (and, yes, Band-Aids & Tylenol).

I guess I kind of got to thinking I had the sickness thing covered.  My insurance was starting to look pretty tight. . . . until the fear started.

I would hear a friend mention her sick child, or read on facebook about a bug going around, and begin to scrutinize my children for symptoms.  Were their cheeks overly rosy?  Did they seem lethargic?  Was anyone's appetite suspect?

I'd go to bed fighting images of my children, sick in the night - literally battling the anxious thoughts parachuting into my mind like trained stealth invaders.  I'd pray.  Sing.  Recite scripture.  I'd visualize each child healthily sleeping, dreaming of rainbows and kittycats.

Eventually, I'd go to sleep.

It was exhausting, to say the least.  And it didn't always work, for long.  And even when it was working, the fears just seemed to come along all the more frequently, as if to make up for lost ground.

I knew it was no way to live for a Christian professing faith in God.  But I didn't know of any way to deal with it other than battle.

And then - a book.  I am always humbled that God, who knows my love for reading, is willing to speak to me through other people's books.  Hinds' Feet on High Places was on my reading stack, and was teaching me about living a life of faith.  At one point in the allegory, Much-Afraid, the protagonist with whom I could  identify all too well, was in the desert of suffering and slavery.  In all the barren landscape, she spotted a single flower, called Acceptance-with-Joy.  She realized that since she could trust the Shepherd, she could trust whatever he offered her:  even suffering.

Not long after reading that, I had another night of fear.  I was waging my usual mental battle when I remembered Much-Afraid and her little flower.

What if ... ?

Like a shaft of sunlight entering a dark room I saw the way out.  Acceptance-with-Joy!  If God wants to give me sick children to take care of, then I will accept that with (eventually, I hope) joy.

Immediately Fear vanished like a bogeyman falling through a hidden trapdoor.  Gone!  I was free!  I could hardly believe it could be so simple.

 : : :

As long as I insisted on having healthy children, Fear always had an entrance:  "what if your children get sick?!?!"  And as long as I panicked in response ("oh, no!!  what if they get sick?!"), Fear had a place to stay.

When I could respond to Fear's "what if - ?!" with a trusting, "Then I accept that with joy", it took the wind right out of Fear's sails - and left me submitted and secure.  This yoke I've put on is easy; His burden is light.

I kind of like submitted and secure; it sure beats anxious and fearful.

I still have my "medicine cabinet" for preventing and treating real illnesses as they may arise, but that particular Fear is dead and buried, and I am beautifully free at last - to trust my Shepherd, and to enjoy my children without worrying unduly about tomorrow.


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