It feels like the past year has been filled with tragedy for the world, our nation and for people around me. In NZ alone we have had flooding, car crashes at a rate of knots, murders, earthquakes, balloon disasters and mining disasters.
I am so blessed in that no one close to me has died recently. But I have had many friends who have been affected by the above disasters, or have lost loved ones or friends in other ways.
All this tragedy, and the seemingly meaningless loss of life (especially because so many had their whole lives in front of them), has made me so aware of the fragility of life. One moment could change everything.
For me, this slow dawning of the fragility of life has led to an appreciation of life, but even more so, a gnawing dark fear, of losing loved ones. The kind of fear that wakes me in the middle of the night in terror, the kind of fear that lets my mind wander in horrible worst case imaginings, the kind of fear that sits deep in the pit of my stomach, making residence where is doesn't belong.
Until recently I wished/hoped/prayed that I would die instead of a loved one. This hope was not out of selflessness (although I am not at all afraid of dying - I know where I will be going), but a deep selfishness, of not being able to imagine I could survive a loss, and so wishing that pain on others instead.
Do you see how ugly and twisted this fear is? I know I am not the only one who feels this way, I see many others uselessly worry about possible scenarios.
This all came to a head recently, when I realised that this fear was starting to take over, this needless worry was having more than its fair share of head space. With the help of a (straight talking) friend, I realised this fear is useless (or, more than useless- harmful), and will make me cling tighter (too tight) to those around me.
It took a bright light being shone in the darkness for me to see that even if I am full of fear and worry, it is not going to prevent anything from happening. If something happens it happens, no matter if I worry or not. Therefore what is the point of worrying and living in fear? These emotions are harmful, and negatively alter my perception of today. And they can't stop life from happening, so they are such a waste of space and energy.
However, even realising this logically, it still took a while for my heart to realise it, and for me to be able to speak to the fearful emotions and tell them -no more, be gone!
Even then, after straight talking, after realisations, after some prayer, I still have my moments where I am consumed with terror. But now I am so much more aware of what it is, and that it doesn't belong. Now I can say to myself - 'don't be silly, there is no use being fearful. I'm not wasting energy on this, I am going to enjoy the life that I have been given.' These type of thoughts usually work, and fear is gone for that moment, no longer heavily dragging down my spirit.
Along side this, I just have to trust that whatever happens in life, I will be ok, I will survive. And I have to be more aware of my wandering 'worst case scenario mind.' If Matt is late from work, it probably isn't because he has been attacked by a rouge band of goblins on the way home. (Joke - I don't actually imagine that. I just didn't want to fill your mind with my needless worries.)
I also have to be aware when my mind is full of negativity and talk it out of that state. I don't want to be filled with darkness, I want to be joyful and able to enjoy life.
I also don't want someone elses tragedy to be all about my fear. Because its not all about me at all. And the less time I spend worrying about me, the more time I can be a better friend/support, the more time I can pray/cook meals/write encouraging words/sit with them and so on. Fear makes you look inwards, and that is not something I want to be doing.
Letting go of fear also means I can see and appreciate the fragility of life through tragedy. I can start to value my days and each moment more than I do currently. Fear makes you hold onto those moments, cling and tear at life, letting go will hopefully mean appreciating, and understanding the value of each day.
This is only the beginning. But I am feeling so hopeful that this is the end of fear. That I know how to conquer it. That I know the one who is so much bigger than our weaknesses.
And why am I sharing this? Because I know I am not the only one who lives with these thoughts. If you are too, talk to someone about it. Recognise it. I would recommend reading 'Battlefield of the Mind' by Joyce Meyer. It highlights how much our thoughts influence our lives, and what we can do about it. If you are so inclined, pray. And slowly you will realise, like me, that fear and worry are wasted and harmful emotions.
"Fear doesn't live here no more."