Fear Not

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“Don’t worry about it.”

If I had a nickel every time I have heard that phrase.

I have always worried.  I used to just assume it was part of my personality.  I was told that all the women in my family worried.  It was just the way the women in the Sennett family worked.

After my mother died, however, the worry took a complicated turn.  It turned into devastating anxiety and panic.  I have had moments of anxiety that have driven me to my knees in the carpet and it took prayer to stand me up.  I have prayed my way into work many days – not because I was worried about something that was supposed to happen that day – but because I was anxious about something that MIGHT happen.

I can come up with “What if…” questions better than most Olympic athletes can compete at their sport.  The answers I come up with are always worst case scenarios.  That causes more anxiety.  It is a vicious cycle that I have allowed to steal many days from my life.

Today I am worried.  I have to leave in about an hour to take my six year old daughter to our local children’s hospital for a test.  The doctor told me what the test will entail, but since it is not one I have endured before, I can’t prepare her.  I don’t know if she will be in pain.  I don’t know if it will cause her fear.  I don’t know if I will be able to be with her.  I don’t know if it will be a good thing for me to be with her.  Will she sense my fear?  Will that make everything worse?

So I have to make a conscious choice to trust.  I have to trust that this children’s hospital knows what they are doing and will be a calming effect.  Trust that they understand my fears and hers.

Most of all, I have to trust that God loves my daughter more than I could ever imagine.  Whatever happens today is in His will.  A quick Bible Gateway search of the phrase “fear not” brings up over 150 verses that teach us not to fear.  They stretch from Genesis to Revelation.  They are direct commands from Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah and other prophets speaking on God’s behalf.  They are commands from Jesus Christ Himself.  They are teachings from the epistles of Paul.  This might be an important topic, huh?

Trusting in God is easy when you have a back up plan.  Trusting in God is easy when it is a choice between good options.

When it is something completely out of your control……..not so easy.  When it is the well-being of your child that is out of your control…excruciating.

Today I am having to make a conscious effort to trust.   Today I am having to renew that effort every few minutes.

Today I am having to quote some of those 150+ verses over and over to myself.

Today I am choosing to learn from my daughter, who is contentedly reading a book – completely trusting.  She knows that Mommy and Daddy prayed over her last night and that we will be continuing to pray.  She is confident in that power.

Matthew 10:29-31   “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

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Dear Joey,

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The summer before I began the third grade, I attended my first camp with my church youth group.  I remember being terrified as we left the church.  I had never spent that many days away from home.

Little did I know, that camp visit would begin my deep history with Woodland Christian Camp.  I attended as a camper each summer until I was sixteen.  At sixteen I met a young man whose father volunteered as a camp dean each summer for the third and fourth graders – the same age I was when I first attended!  I volunteered.  For the next two years I would serve as a camper and a counselor, on different weeks!  Once I graduated from high school I would serve as a counselor for at least one week of camp each summer.

Once my mother passed away and I began teaching full time, I put what was intended to be a temporary pause on my camp counselor service.  However, summer jobs, marriage and children happened and before I knew it, it had been sixteen years since I was on the land I loved so much.

Last September, something woke me early on a Sunday morning.  A casual Facebook scroll ended with a cold grip on my heart.  The precious camp dean I served for so long and loved even longer, Joey, had passed away.  Suddenly it came crashing in on me just how I had neglected the land and people who had meant so much to me.  Joey had always seen the good in me.  He listened to me as I thought through some tough teenage decisions.  He had loved me as a kind uncle through times when I struggled to love even myself.  He had reached out to me when he heard my mother had passed away.  What had I done to thank him?  Nothing.

Over this past week, Joey and his family had been laid upon my heart repeatedly, even showing up in my dreams.  Once more, I was awakened early on a Sunday morning.  Once again a Facebook scroll gripped me.  This was the week of camp that Joey had always served as dean.  Two dear friends who had served with Joey and I were heading it up.  One was Joey’s son, Jason.  I finally knew how to thank Joey.

Yesterday my husband and I took our three children to Woodland.  I introduced them to old friends.  Watching my children talk with Jason, who looks just like his father, felt like the completion of a journey I had not realized was unfinished.  We walked through the buildings where I spent so many happy days.  I introduced them to Joey through a picture Jason had posted in the main mess hall.  We sat on the deck with a view of the lake where I had many a deep discussion with Joey.  We walked down to the lake and sat on the dock where I remember dreaming of my future.  Somehow my dreams did not include sitting there with my children.  It was surreal, but wonderful.

Joey taught me one more lesson yesterday.  I stood by the lake alone for a few minutes, saying my good-bye to Joey and remembering all the dreams I had during my teenage years.  I realized that I wasn’t living many of them at all.  My husband was only a friend during those years.  I never imagined being married to him and sharing children.  I am a teacher as planned, but teaching is not what I imagined.  Adulting is not what I imagined.  But what I have is …. perfect for me.  I couldn’t imagine a husband who understands me better.  He is patient when I need it and challenges my thinking to make me look at situations from various angles – much like Joey.  My career is my mission field and has taught me that with God I can go farther than I ever could alone – as Joey told me He would.

Joey taught me that while I may not be living exactly my teenage dreams, I am living God’s dreams for me, and He dreams so much bigger than we can.

Dear Joey,

Thank you for everything you gave to me growing up – most importantly, a listening ear when I needed it.  Thank you for modeling faith in God, even in the face of difficult circumstances.  I hope I have made you proud.  Enjoy your reward.  There aren’t many who deserve it more than you.

Love always,

Aletheia