Friday, June 19, 2015

FIRE

It has been a week of accomplishments in the house.

First, and the most exciting, is that Jack has finally figured out the Rubik's Cube mystery.



How apropos that it was in the car, where he first began his Rubik's Cube journey. Now, instead of mumbling about how and why, he is mumbling confidence builders like this is getting easier by the second and I can solve this thing in twenty minutes (now it's 4and once you figure out the puzzle, it's really not that hard. Oh, no? Because I still can't figure it out, and I'm 38. Whatever.

Second, my girl got over her fear of horses and actually got on and rode. Which is quite an accomplishment, considering the last time I took her on a trail ride, two things happened: a) she refused to get on and b) I left her in the barn while I went on the ride. Listen, I can't even let her walk down the street without biting my nails, and here I was like sure, I've never met you before but I'll leave her here with you while I'm out on a horse in the wilderness. 



And third, I finally finished painting two of the three brass lamps I got at Goodwill. They look pretty good, if I do say so myself. And the fact that I only paid $3 for them makes the deal a whole heck of a lot sweeter.





Today has been a big day.

I definitely see another trail ride in our future. And another brass lamp transformation. And many, many more "do you want to see how fast I can solve this Rubik's cube" situations. Many more. 

A successful day is significant because it has not necessarily been a successful week.

Tuesday night I sat down on the edge of Jack's bed to kiss him goodnight, and noticed that it seemed a little bit squeaky. No big deal. (Biiiiiiiig deal.)

"You better hope that it's the mattress that's squeaky and not the wood because wood catches fire when it rubs together." This from the all-knowing twelve-year-old. There have been several cases when her words absolutely DO NOT HELP. This was one such case.

I tried to reassure Jack that no, his bed would not catch on fire, but I think he was scared to roll over after that. Five minutes after I left, he was calling me back in, a worried look creasing his smooth forehead.

"What's wrong, bud?" I asked. I knew exactly what was wrong.

"FIIIIRRRREEEEE" he wailed, burying his already wet face in his pillow. I guess if I thought it would make a fire every time I rolled over, I'd be upset, too.

I tried again to reassure him, explaining that really, it takes a lot of friction for wood to catch fire all by itself. And oh, by the way, she doesn't always know what she's talking about. And sometimes she tries to scare you just because. So there's that.

I left his room mostly halfway certain I wouldn't hear from him again. I had just turned out my lamp when little footsteps alerted me to their owner's presence, quiet sniffles and hiccups accompanying the commotion just outside my door.

"What's wrong, bud?"

"Robbers and murderers and bad stuff and fiiiirrrreee", he sobbed.

I get it. The world is a scary place. And our realization of just how scary it is only  intensifys as we get older. I've spent many nights drowning in my own fears, not able to go to sleep and worrying about that portion of worries and what-ifs that never come to fruition. But I worry that it might.

We go to sleep worried we won't wake up.
We wake up worried that we didn't sleep.
We worry that someone will discover that lettuce was fattening all along.
{max lucado}

Worry doesn't just box itself and attack one area of life; it spreads like a disease with far-reaching tentacles, until every aspect of life is covered with anxiety and worry, until there isn't one single action to take that doesn't involve worry of some sort.

It is smart to stay clever and alert. It is smart to have an instinctual fear, like knowing that the stove and the sun are both hot and precaution should be taken. But fear based on worry is a paralyzing, take-the-fun-out-of-life type of anxiety that I've often said would keep me locked indoors every day if I would let it. (Except being locked indoors has its own set of what-ifs, so in my less-rational moments I've been known to think it's not even safe anywhere. Leading me to wonder if that is even normal or not.)

Obviously, I could make no promises to Jack, even as upset as he was. The world is as unpredictable as it is scary, and it's not fair. Meaning good people get cancer. And evil abounds. And war happens, and children starve, and injustice is something we see or experience. Our cries of "It's not fair!" seem to bounce off the ceiling as we beg God to intercede, to do something, and then we think He must not care or He must not be strong enough or He must not something. And we worry and doubt and continue the cycle of fear.

I'm with Max. Worry is an option.  An option! Meaning it's not a have-to. It's just that the alternative is so very hard to hold onto. But the way I see it, God has interceded and given us beautiful words of encouragement when we do feel scared.

He knew we would feel that way.

Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be afraid, 
do not be discouraged 
for the Lord will be with you wherever you go.
{joshua 1: 9}

For a long time, I didn't even recognize worry for what it was. I just accepted it as a part of life, one of the pitfalls of adulthood. But when I felt like my fear was suffocating the life out of me, I knew everything needed to change. It's hooks had gone too far, and I needed a lifeline. Which I found in the book of Joshua.

It would be ignorant to think that the nation of Israel had any reason to fear the world less than I do. Different fears, yes, but fears none the less. So when I first read the words be strong and courageous, I felt a deep peace in my soul. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. The Lord will be with you wherever you go. Where. Ever. And I grasped that lifeline with all the strength I had, because I knew that worry and anxiety were going to kill me.

I've looked back since then. I wish I didn't but the tendency is still in me, and I worry about sending my kids to school and driving down I-81 and guns and terrorists and wild animals. (There's a bear in the neighborhood. Enough said.) But now when I start to worry, I am aware of it, and I can stop the cycle before it begins.

The other night when Jack was so upset about all the bad stuff that could happen, I asked him if he was ready to play in the All-Star tourney. (He's crazy about baseball, so he is psyched to be playing in the All-Star tourney.) I didn't ask him to get his mind of off serial killers; I asked him because I wanted him to think about the game that he has yet to play. Could he possibly know the outcome of a game that hasn't happened yet? He can do what he can do: practices and good sleep will go a long way in helping him create a better outcome, but there is no way he can know if his team will win or lose. He cannot control the future.

And neither can I. Neither can you. It's hard but necessary for sanity to accept that the future is definitely out of our control. Good choices usually affect an outcome, but they don't control it.

So I told Jack what I have also needed to tell myself: be strong. Be brave. Be courageous. But on the full armor of God to protect yourself. Because the Lord is with you. WHEREVER you go.

In peace I will lie down and sleep
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.
{psalm 4:8}

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