Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fear of the burn...

Have you ever watched a movie drowning scene? 
What did you notice about it
If you've seen more than one, how were they alike or different?

A few scenes come to mind for me & here's what I've noticed...

Some characters are living joyfully, when something goes wrong. They may be enjoying the maiden voyage of the greatest ship ever built.  They may be at camp with other teens, swimming & playing in the water.  
Alternatively, they may be struggling; perhaps trying to steer a ship through a terrible storm, believing that, against all odds, they will prevail & return home to their families.  Perhaps even mourning the loss of a loved one & attempting to "join" them.

In many movie drownings, the victim's loved ones flash before through their mind.  They may even attempt to send mental messages of love to those friends or family members.  
Similarly, scenes from his or her life may come to mind.  Joyous times; fond memories; friends they haven't seen in 20 years; even regrets are things they reflect on as they realize they may be dying.
In some cases, the person drowning may panic; thrash around as they realize they can't breathe.  In others, they quickly accept their fate & peacefully wait to lose consciousness. 

In the past few months, I've come to realize that grief can be like drowning above the surface. 
One moment I'm moving through life & everything seems fine; the next, I'm gasping for air & kicking for the surface. 
I may panic & struggle trying to figure out what happened & how I got there.  "Where did this speeding bullet come from & why did it hit me now?" It's like the perfect storm of emotions hitting me at once.

Some days, I accept it as necessary & peacefully let tears roll.  Maybe a song reminds me of the loss of my Father in Law.  Perhaps a story reflects the relationship he had with my kids & husband.  

Sometimes, it might be my own regrets.  The last time I saw him, he was so tired & frail.  I spoke to him, but barely.
I was uncomfortable & didn't know what to say.  I wanted to be hopeful - for all of us - that we'd get through it.  That though we were traveling a bumpy road, we would eventually make it - through healing. 
I know my Father-in-Law was healed, just not in a way that he could stay here with us.

Had I known it would be my last opportunity to talk to him, I like to think I'd have chosen differently.

When I was 8 or 9, our family was visiting relatives at Lake Gaston.  Three of my uncles had second homes there & boating, skiing, tubing, & other water activities were available to entertain us for hours. We spent time there regularly throughout my childhood.

On this day, I was afraid of the water.
In fact, I can't remember a time in my life when I've felt confident jumping in & splashing around like most kids.

I was standing near the end of the pier & my Dad was trying to coax me into the water.  He stood in the water, showing me how deep it was (or wasn't).  He held his arms up & told me repeatedly he'd catch me.  I just had to jump.

I can't say how many times I took a step or two but could never actually leave the pier.  I may have even said, "ok, I'm gonna do it this time" - MANY times. 
I think Dad may have said, "come on! Don't you trust me?"
Eventually, the frustration was too much for my younger brother so he just pushed me off, surprising all of us.
Even though Dad was standing there, somewhat ready, it happened so fast that I plummeted right through his arms.  He reached down & grabbed me, pulling me up as soon as he could, but not before I swallowed quite a bit of water.

I can remember the feeling so well: my heart skipped a beat & thumped hard from the fall; there was burning in my nose & lungs from taking in water; the terrible coughing that results from trying to regain normal breathing after that.  
I can recall a slight feeling of relief that I was alright.  That my Dad picked me up & got me out of the water.
But the burning! Oh it hurt!
And because of the burning - my current state of pain & fear - I couldn't appreciate that I was really ok.

That memory seems a good metaphor for life lately.
My difficulties aren't just because my Father-in-Law passed away, but I think that event has scared me from "jumping off" again.  
It's made me fearful of losing someone else I love, & I worry about that more than I have in quite some time.

Coupled with giving up my long-standing Pampered Chef business & a few other "small losses," losing a family member has put me in a position to question who I am & what I do...what I should do...what I'm "good' at...what I was created for.

I believe God created me for a specific purpose (just as He did everyone).
I even think I know what it is.

But every time I think I'm ready to jump in...move forward...I chicken out.  

I know that I'm safe.  That, even if I fall, my Father will catch me & lift me up again.  I hear Him saying, "Come on! Don't you trust me?"
Yet, I just can't seem to move forward.  Or, worse, I take 2 steps forward & 3 back.

I tell myself, "just do it!"

I know that trials & failures foster perseverance & perseverance enhances character {Rom 5: 3-4}.   I know that even if I fall in & swallow water instead of bobbing back up to the surface, my Father will pull me out of the water & I will be ok.

But it's that burn - the fear of the burn - that makes movement & trust so hard.

If you've been there, fearing the burn & refusing to move forward, rest assured you are not alone.  

I'm realizing that ALL things work together for my good.  ALL things includes grief, suffering, & sometimes fear.
I've learned that being "called according to His purpose," takes more than just desire.  "Experience" in this life comes best the same way learning does; we learn more from our mistakes than when we "get it right."
I'm still learning that head knowledge & heart knowledge are separated by a chasm as wide {or wider} than the Grand Canyon.  That as much as I know, that I know, that I know that God's purpose is for my ultimate good, my fear can still keep me paralyzed. 

When I find myself gazing out over that canyon between my head & heart, I turn to verses like these; I hope you'll find them helpful as well.

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