Thursday, March 3, 2011

1 John 4:18

It all started when I read Haley's writing assignment for Thanksgiving:  Tell me something that you're thankful for A-Z.  Most kids would happily write of apples, balloons, cats, and ducks.  Not my Haley Jane.

Listen to letter A: I am thankful that Aligatrs are not in are howse.
Letter B:   I am thankful that nuthing Bit me.
Fast forward to Letter X:  I am thankful I nevr so a fox.

Haley is acutely aware of all the traumatic things that could possibly occur in this world, and this Thanksgiving, she is just thankful that none of them have happened to her yet.

Today as we were having a picnic lunch out on the patio, a black bug the size of a molecule landed on Haley's shoulder and she began to cry...uncontrollably.  She started to bring her lunch inside where she could eat in peace, but I intercepted her before she got to the door.

"Haley, you are NOT going inside;  this is RIDICULOUS."  I was firm.

"MOM..."  she wined, "Almost EVERYONE in our family has been stung by a bee (Only Colby and I have ever been stung), and I DON'T want to get stung."

"Okay, you know what?"  I was starting to come up with a plan.  "Come here.  Sit on my lap."

I had to pick her up and carry her stiff little body over to my patio chair because she wouldn't comply.

"Now, I want to talk to you about this.  What's your BIGGEST FEAR?"

She didn't even take a moment to think about it, "Getting stung, getting bit, getting run over by a car, getting our house burned down, earthquakes..."  I had to cut her off.

"Okay, let's just go there.  Let's just SAY that it your fears ACTUALLY came true.  Let's pretend that you were getting stung by a swarm of bees during an earthquake while your house was burning down...."

Pause for a second.  Okay, before you write me off as an insensitive mother, I think it's called cognitive restructuring therapy and I read about it during my class COUNSELING METHODS.  We all have fears, and as you can probably tell by my offspring, I struggle with many of them.   I guess since it's one of my weaknesses, I've had to learn how to manage them.

When Gracie was getting ready for her second surgery, I was going through--what I can now look back and see to be--major stress:  inability to accomplish small tasks, numbness in my face, and trouble sleeping.  As I was talking to Eileen, it became clear what my main fear was.  I kept envisioning sitting in the waiting room  during her surgery and seeing the doctor walk grimly and apologetically into the room with the worst news a parent can hear.  I thought that I was doing myself a favor, preparing myself for this scene.  Almost as if...if it did happen, I would be ready because I had already practiced my response.  My husband says that I do this as a way of trying to control my environment, and I can't really disagree with his assessment.  However, in my attempt to control the future and prepare myself for the worst, I didn't take away any of my stress.  I only added to it.

My friend's advice was simple, yet profound.  GO THERE.  Go to the waiting room that is laced with darkness and anxiety, fear and trepidation and watch the doctor walk in with tears running down his face.  Imagine that you are sitting there and your biggest fear happens.  Now picture Jesus there in the waiting room with you, holding you while you get the news.

Back to the conversation on the deck:

"Okay, let's just go there.  Let's just SAY that it your fears ACTUALLY came true.  Let's pretend that you were getting stung by a swarm of bees during an earthquake while your house was burning down....AND Jesus was right there with you, comforting you.  Would that be so bad?"

She leaned her head on my chest as I continued, smiling as if she liked this exercise.

"I mean, think about it.  Bethanee's house burned down to the ground.  And, when you saw her last night, was she still crying about it?  Your worst fear HAPPENED to her...and she's fine."

"Yeah...I guess,"  she admitted, rather sheepishly.  

I guess this is what Paul is trying to communicate in Philippians chapter four.  "The LORD is AT HAND.  BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING, but in everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known to God."  We don't have to worry about the future because God is with us (in the present and the future) and will send His peace to guard our hearts and minds like a soldier faithfully standing watch.  

As I look back at Haley's Thankful journal, a theme emerges:  she is afraid of pain.  I think that's the common denominator for all of us.  Losing a loved one is scary for us because we don't want to experience the pain of loneliness and grief.  Interestingly enough, dying is not one of the things Haley is afraid of.  As she was listing off her fears, she caught herself before adding death and said, "Well, dying is not so bad because then I don't have to even WORRY about bees or fires or earthquakes or getting run over."

It was at that moment that Darcy looked up from her water experiment on the ground and added, "Are there CARS in heaven?  Cause I know there's streets of GOLD."

I'm not sure, Darcy.  All I know is that it is a place where there is no fear.

Because Perfect Love casts out Fear (I John 4:18).


The Wires in Virginia said...

Love this!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful lesson.

Anonymous said...

great post!

Austin said...

This was money! I have a niece who is scared of everything, far beyond just the physical nature and her parents are working through it now.

Well played here! I love it!

Annie Garman said...

Thanks guys.

Quick question: if I COMMENT to YOUR comments here, do you see it? I read an article recently about blogging etiquette and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to respond to comments here. Does anyone go back and check for a response?

Josh and Jadey said...

I love this. Thank you for the reminder of this verse. When I was going through my toughest times with my health this verse was continually running through my mind. I would often do just what you did with Hailey imagine myself not being able to walk and then think, "would not being able to walk but still having Jesus be ok?" I have to say sometimes the answer was hard, but like Hailey I sheepishly new what the answer was. Again thanks for the reminder and the lesson idea that I may have to use in the future!!

beckers said...

this belongs in a book. much like the book that Ann Voskamp wrote (go to

get. published. asap. love you!

ps. a similar lesson has been running in my mind...thanks for writing this!

Veronika said...

We could all learn from Haley. And as far as blog etiquette goes, I always check back to see if the author made any comments to the responses.

Now that things are settled somewhat Ha! I know.) and you live so close to me I would love to come meet Gracie.

Anonymous said...

Annie - This was such a beautiful beautifully written blog. I have those fears - and this put them into so much perspective...I love how you handled this with Haley! WOW! I just loved it. Nothing against my mom and dad - but I wish they would have done this with me growing up. I was like Haley at her age - Worrying about EVERYTHING. This was just so comforting to read Annie. Thanks for this. And the Bible verse...Everything.