A pastor once said that fear stands for Fake Evidence Appearing Real. Ten days ago my husband and I were rear-ended. My husband had a stiff neck and headaches off and on for awhile but seems to be back to normal. Unfortunately, due to my genetic disorder I don’t bounce back quite as well. The first time we were rear-ended four years ago I ended up having to get my back fused due to a ruptured disc. The fear set in right after we were hit and has been slowly eating away at me. Now as my sciatic nerve has started causing numbness and pain down my leg (that was the main symptom of my ruptured disc last time) I can almost taste the fear.
I keep telling myself that this could have been so much worse. We were on a busy interstate and only the two cars were involved. It could have been a semi that hit us, we could have been pushed into the car in front of us, our daughter could have been in the car with us…and the list goes on. We don’t know the full extent of the damage done but I don’t have any dislocations or broken bones so that’s all good news. I remind myself that this time it’s different. I’m in better shape this time. Since we’ve moved to a more tropical climate and lower elevation I’ve been healthier and able to do more. Yet the fear keeps whispering in my ear, “Here you go again. You’re going to be benched again and miss out on life. You’re such a failure. Can’t even handle a little car accident without falling apart.”
Why? Why do we let fear take hold? It literally can suck the very air from your lungs and robs you of all joy. It leaves you feeling alone, scared, and helpless. Yet we hold onto it with both hands. It’s similar to an electric fence. I grew up on a farm and we had “hot wire” strung all over our property. For those city slickers I’ll give you a crash course on electric fencing. If the wire is touching anything other than the plastic insulator that attaches it to the railing, it will kill the current, thus rendering your fence useless. You have to walk the property line on a regular basis to make sure the line is still “hot” and that nothing is breaking the current. You learn very quickly to test the wire with the back of your hand. If you test the wire with the palm of your hand your muscles spasm causing you to grab the wire. Not a huge amount of fun to grab an electric fence and not be able to let go. I think this is the way fear works. Once we grab on to it’s lies, it’s really hard to break loose from it’s grasp.
I’ve spent some time trying to wrestle with my fears and doubts. I’ve been arguing and rationalizing with them. Trying to reason with them and explain them away. I swing between “There’s no reason to be afraid” to “My body is broken and I have every right to be scared.” With each shooting pain down my leg, or muscle spasm in my neck, or radiating pain in my arm, “It’s the end of the world as we know it…” starts playing in my head. Ok, maybe not every time, but you get the idea. I attempt to silence these fears and tell myself they aren’t real, but they refuse to be silenced.
So back to my statement at the beginning, fear is Fake Evidence Appearing Real. I’m not sure I agree with this. The fear that all of us face is usually grounded in some form of reality. The accident did some damage to my body, that’s reality. Worrying about how it’s going to effect me down the road is also a legitimate concern. Over and over again in the Bible God has assured us that He will not leave us, that He will walk with us. Psalms 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” If He’s there in the “valley of the shadow of death” I’m pretty sure He can handle a car accident. I think back though on all the times I didn’t trust Him. After my first accident and the proceeding surgery, I found myself in a very dark place. It was literally the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Walking the 15 feet from my bed to the bathroom was a monumental task. Ladies, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to take care of business and not been able to twist or bend your back at all, but it makes bathroom trips very interesting. Any slight movement would rock me with pain. Instead of clinging to God, I floundered. One particularly hard day I remember telling Him that I was done and He could take me now. Not my proudest moment.
I think a better acrostic for fear is Failure Echoing Assurance Revoked. I don’t know about you but that seems to explain it better, at least in my life. All my past failures seem to loom in my memory making me second guess who I am and if I’m truly capable of handling what life throws at me. As soon as I start listening to those voices all my hope is stripped away and I’m left shaking in my boots. But, if I acknowledge and face my failures and my concerns, they seem to lose their grip on me. Like testing the hot wire with the back of the your hand, it’s still bites but it loses it’s hold. Telling someone that I’m scared of what this accident might cost me is not easy. It’s embarrassing, it makes me feel weak and pathetic. But having someone who can help me carry that burden, who listens to me fears and helps me sort through what reality is versus “the end of the world”, more than compensates for the momentary foolishness I feel. I’m so grateful that God is with me and has surrounded me with those that love me. I will focus on who He is and what He’s done versus who I am, because I am broken but through Him I will conqueror.
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
As always I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or send me an e-mail.