The summer between 7th and 8th grade, I received a call from someone who clearly knew me, yet, wanted to remain anonymous on her end.
I tethered my fingers tightly around the brown-tinged yellow cord, causing my indented fingers to turn white from loss of blood flow, as each word incrementally raised my pulse.
White was also my complexion, as all color left my my face from the fear of it all. The person on the other end spent minutes, which felt like a lifetime, threatening my livelihood. Maybe not promising to actually kill me, but promising to inflict bodily harm to me. To this day, the remembrance of this episode still produces anxiety in my gut.
And because of her verbal assault, I remained out of sight, under the radar, for fear of an ambush; stripping the dog days of summer from all of its joy.
I think I came by fear naturally. Not the kind caused by the girl who desired to inflict bodily harm, which seemed a reasonable response for an adolescent, but, the kind that sat under the radar of my skin, causing cortisol to rise in the innards at the slightest variance from calm.
Fear was a common companion in my childhood household.
It seems natural then for fear to catapult in my dad at the diagnosis of his cancer. Similar, yet subtly different, there is nothing the medical community can do to help him other than keep him comfortable.
Interestingly, this man, who has a higher fear threshold than some, seems at peace with diagnosis, and future fate. Actually, I’ve never witnessed such calm from him my entire lifetime.
Death seems to have changed this in him–for the better.
It appears he’s absorbing the extra time on earth, and not wasting it away in worry. With one exception: us. He chokes back tears as we converse on the phone, miles away. He worries about Bill and his future, he’s concerned about me and our girls. He prays constantly for Bill’s physical healing above his own.
I go back in February to absorb more of his presence, his stories, the ones I may have heard a thousand times, and some I may not have known.
Fears. We all have them in one area or another.
- Fear of death keeps us from living today by worrying about tomorrow.
- Fear of forgiveness has us holding out in hurt instead of forging toward forgiveness.
- Fear of future failure keeps us standing still today in a safe bubble of confinement.
- Fear of spiritual healing keeps one remaining a victim.
The capillaries of fear can branch out in unending directions, and if left in place, kill all livelihood of life.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10