This. This morning, waking with Colorado Spring hard on my heart. Waking now to Day 2/3 of things afoot on the farm and feeling my knees knocking again… all these lurking fears, smoke of worry in the air. And a very dear friend, Emily P. Freeman, she pulls up a chair and speaks this strength into the bones of us all…. Yes, let’s all keep praying for each other, yes, friends?
My childhood lives on a small plot of land in the block between Gladstone Avenue and Meridian Street.
Our house sits on her foundation there and smells of lemon, bacon, and a rainy day.
Two bedrooms and one bath seems perfectly fine to me and our family of four will live in this little white house with the gravel drive for eleven years.
Endless space fills up kid days. Summer vacation lasts two and a half years, the small shed next to the house is filled with an infinite blackness enough to convince me it’s wonder, and the tall grass in our neighbor’s yard comes up to my chin and never stops growing.
We wake up to wet grass soaking our feet right through our jelly shoes.
A thousand warm miles of tree-climbing, sprinkler-splashing, Barbie-playing days stretch out in front of us. June in Indiana wears gauzy pink dresses and a promise in her eyes.
The morning dew and the mourning dove frame those summer memories like a mama’s warm arms around a girl who knows she is loved.
But as much as I want to paint my childhood in carefree shades of sun-kissed cheeks, the truth is my kid days were filled with lots of worry.
I worried about school starting back.
I worried about tornados.
I worried about robbers and divorce and what if our car rolled out of the driveway while we were sleeping?
We were made by the hands of a Maker to be brave, to take heart and have courage. But we get good at the things we practice, and instead of scales of courage, I played dark melodies of fear.
I don’t know where this worry compulsion comes from besides being made from dust.
On our own, we are terrified. We have collectively forgotten how to live.
If you shake worry down to its gritty core, isn’t it basically a fear of death? Of either losing our life or our reputation or our sound mind?
When she comes to me in her wet bathing suit with teary eyes, towel wrapped tightly around her, images of her younger brother jumping off the high-dive moments before, “Mommy, I can’t do it. It’s just too high.”
She desperately wants to do it, wants to jump off the end, free.
When the thunder rumbles low, shakes the pictures on the wall and the plates on the shelf, he runs to me, arms tight around my legs, eyebrows tight above his eyes, “Are we going to die?”
When you’re only five, you don’t mess around with pretense.
I wave away her worry of the high dive and his fear of thunder. You have nothing to fear, I hear myself say. Childish worry. How quickly I forget about my rolling cars, robbers in the night, tornados.
I’m a grown up now and supposed to know things, supposed to know how to live well and respectably. I’m not supposed to worry about ridiculous things like cars rolling out of driveways for no good reason.
But my rolling cars show up differently now.
What if they misunderstand me?
How can I teach them to listen?
Why does it have to be so hard?
In the eyes of the Father, aren’t we all children, really? Does He not hold us all in His hand?
This fear of death is well-founded, because we are all headed straight into it. Not just the kind that stops our breathing, but the kind that demands we breathe on behalf of others – to have faith when she doubts, to love when we don’t feel like it, to put others ahead of ourselves.
Every time we make a meal, every exchange we have with a neighbor, every interaction we make with our family, each one laced with potential sacrifice. It can all be a bit too much.
But if we have forgotten how to live, it’s only because we have also forgotten we’ve already died. The life we hold on to isn’t really ours. And it’s hard to fear a thing if the worst is behind us.
The worst is behind us.
“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”
If Christ came to us, then Christ is in us, with us, among us. And if He carries around our death in His body, then what reputation have we to hold onto? What riches have we to lose? What life have we to give up?
The hardest death has already happened, the one that really counts. He cares for the sparrows and the lilies and girls standing on the edge of diving boards. God stands on the edge of a diving board.
She climbs to the top, eyes set to the edge, feet fast until she stops. Backs up. Slowly climbs down again.
The fear is still there and she runs to me, worried. Rejected. The board has won again.
I hold her and whisper the it’s-okays and maybe-next-times, but one thing I don’t do is dismiss it.
She is facing her own death, her own fear of what might be if she were to let go and fly free.
Even though it’s true that she is safe, there is grace for her to walk into it at her own pace, in her own time.
And this — I am thankful for this.
Really Related Posts:
Be Not Afraid — this story — the mountain in it, is burning this morning in Colorado Springs. And I can’t get this story out of my head — what happened on that mountain, only a few years ago. Praying with Colorado Springs.
Day 1 of Things Afoot on the Farm
Why it’s Really Time to Get out of Your Comfort Zone
Emily P. Freeman is a dear, remarkable friend, the author of must-read Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life, and one of my always-read blogs, Chatting at the Sky.