Over the years, I’ve been afraid of many things.
Losing a small child in a large shopping mall and not finding him for an hour (other end of the mall, calmly reading a comic book). So I take kids shopping only when there is no other choice.
Waiting until midnight for a teenager driving home from up north and being two hours late. He comes in, surprised that I’m up. No problem, just some heavy rain. And he started late. My fear turns to anger, relieving pent-up emotion.
Making a fool of myself while speaking in front of a large group of strangers.
A doctor’s diagnosis. Cancer. All through the spine. My father’s confused, questioning eyes as the doctor leaves me to explain. My mother’s bewildered disbelief. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. He was always the strong one. Now I have to take his place.
The expectation of my own death as I spend long hours in agony and helplessness, the small child inside me struggling for life, my strength flowing away like blood dripping from an amputated limb.
Yes, I know fear.
But with each of these fears I’ve also known peace. I’ve never felt alone, for God is always with me. He allows me to lean on him. And I know that whatever happens, he’ll still be in control. I know that his agony was far more than mine as he sent his son to die. So he doesn’t leave me in my fears, but lifts me above them to a place of fellowship and hope and caring.
He’s there for the fears I have that would overwhelm me. And I’m able to trust and not fear. Except… I have another fear. One I seldom think about. In fact, I try hard not to think about it. I even pretend it doesn’t exist.
It’s the fear that there’s something missing in my life. A dimension that ought to be there but isn’t. God’s peace is in my heart, but who will hold my hand? There are so many times I feel that God is with me but I’m still alone.
I see you at church on Sunday and we say, “Hello”, and “How are you?”, and talk about the weather or the programs at church or the new people, or the people we haven’t seen for a while, and then we go to our homes. Afterwards, I think something was missing. There I was with so many questions on my heart that I could hardly concentrate. Questions about my value as a woman, my role in the church, going through so many changes as I get older. About feeling pulled in so many directions and…even about pain. And all I said was that I was fine.
Am I the only one who feels this way?
You’ve never mentioned similar fears to me.
And yet…there must be someone else who shares my questions and even my pain. There must be someone, somewhere.
I wonder…. Could it be we’re all too busy looking after our families, and furthering our careers, and keeping the church programs going that we simply have no time for each other? No time to really talk to each other and pray for each other and hold each others’ hands, and look after each other? Or could there be a deeper reason?
You don’t suppose our busyness is just a way of protecting ourselves from each other, do you?
What a strange idea. To think that my greatest fear might be the fear of you? Ridiculous!
And yet—I don’t feel God’s peace in this area. Instead, I feel a strange longing.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could talk to each other? I mean, really talk. And I wouldn’t have to be afraid that you’d think I was stupid, or peculiar, or not a good enough Christian.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could let our guards down and I could learn from you and you could learn from me—and we could even help each other in practical ways? No jealousy or pettiness or envy or shame—just help each other. You know—like Jesus would.
Why does the mere idea stir something deep within my heart? Like embers beginning to glow. It would be so great to know you really cared. That you knew all about me and still cared. And we wouldn’t have to fear each other.
One of these days, one of us will have to make the first move.
I wonder which of us it will be.
First published Dec., 1974 in The Link and Visitor