A few months after my father’s suicide, I was lying in bed. It was dark. Off in the distance, I could hear the emergency sirens coming from police cars. My body felt both cold and sweaty at the same time. Mom was not home. Was she hurt? What if she dies?
Our Fear Based Stories
Losing my father to suicide made me acutely aware of death. I’d never expected him to die and hearing those sirens off in the distance made me realize that there was no guarantee I couldn’t lose my mom as well. I was afraid. I did not want to become an orphan.
Fear is a powerful emotion. When panic courses through our bodies it does not take much time for our imagination to run rampant. Our mind, in a matter of minutes, can formulate a complete narrative with an ending of the worst case scenario.
That night, as a kid who’d just lost her dad to suicide, I’d convinced myself that it was likely I’d be orphaned. If that happened, who would take care of me? I’d be more alone than I was already.
I stayed awake, staring into the dark, with my imagination running full throttle. Only when I finally heard Mom returning home safe and sound from her night out with girlfriends was I able to go to sleep.
In adulthood, my fears did not magically dissipate. Instead, I became more aware of them.
I shook in my boots when making decisions because there was no assurance that I’d made the “right” choice. Considering myself to be the blessed controller of the lives of my children, I shuddered whenever they left my sight. Going to church made me quiver because I’d compare myself to other Christian women and wonder if I was as “good” as they were.
My infinite fears consumed me and I had no clue as to what I could do.
Around the late 1970s, I accepted God’s invitation to show me a better way to live my life and reading the Bible became a new habit of mine. Consequently, as an adult who’d become more acutely aware of her fears, I decided to find verses that could help me counter my fearful thoughts. Among the many scriptures that cover the topic of dread, distress and trepidation, I chose a few that resonated with me the most. I wrote them down on note cards, and memorized them as best I could.
Then, whenever I felt myself begin to tremble, quiver or shake in my shoes, I’d pull from my memory a verse or a phrase that helped me change my narrative from panic to peace.
Our fears never leave us, but a few choice words from God can bring some peace in the midst of whatever we fear.
Why bother harnessing our imagination? Fear based stories never have truthful or happy endings. Harnessing our imagination can help us rewrite their endings.