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Fearful Child, Take Heart

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.Psalm 23:4

When I was little, what scared me the most wasn't the dark of night, circus clowns or hairy spiders. Nope. None of those things compared to how terrified I was of the characters known as Pain and Panic -- the jokester demons in Disney's animated movie Hercules.They creeped me out to the point where I actually hid the Pain and Panic toy figurines that came with a Hercules toy set. I mean, was I wrong? Have you seen the movie?

I digress.During that time, there were several evenings when I would be In the middle of a perfectly whimsical dream, and these two would turn it into a dreadful nightmare. For example, I would be accepting a cupcake from none other than Queen Frostine from the CandyLand board game (you know who I'm talking about), and BAM--in came Pain and Panic. I will never forget how they took the gifted cupcake and split it between themselves to eat. Rude. Another night I recall was when I got out of bed and ran to the opposite side of the house to wake up my parents (I literally jumped in their bed without a care in the world). I told them Pain and Panic were making fun of me and wouldn't leave me alone in my sleep. Then I practically lost it in my typical child-like excitement when I went on to explain that Hercules came and scared them away. I'm sure they loved to be woken up to hear this in middle of the night."Okay Kimber, you had some freaking scary dreams as a child. That's great to know..." You're welcome for that. It's funny when I look back at it now considering where I am today versus then.Do you know what I'm getting at?I had nightmares about cartoon characters by the names of Pain and Panic as a child. As I grew older, I could recognize that we face those same demons. The difference is they used to be confined to my imaginative dreams, now they are intertwined with thoughts and actions in terms of reality.I think Disney might have been intentional in more ways than one for naming those villains after troublesome realities we face as we get older.We look into our unknown future, and we often become fearful, allowing pain and panic to consume our thoughts--even on days where it seems nothing can go wrong. I'll give you an example. It was a pleasant Saturday morning, in that it was quiet and there was nothing necessarily chaotic going on in my world. Yet my brain didn't take this silence as an opportunity to rest, but as a chance to lead me down a path where there was no gratitude or contentment to be found within me. I sat there and looked at my current circumstance with such pride and dissatisfaction. Nothing seemed "right" to me. I wasn't happy with anything, for it all was dismal as far as I was concerned. I remember saying things like, "I want this, I need that, I can't be happy unless have that one cup of coffee from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, just let me have it!" *breathe* How sad was I?I became crippled by the fear of being stuck. Of missing out on something I thought could be greater than where I am now.I doubted I would ever move forward, out of the seemingly bleak circumstances I felt we were in.Depression and fear had a grip on me--and I became miserably comfortable there. I could pep-talk all I wanted, it didn't do much where I was.The worst part of this tantrum of mine was that I didn't consider the feelings of those I was hurting in the process of my self-loathing. Once I acknowledged how I had unintentionally hurt those around me, I realized I had come face to face with the fear of failure. There are days where I fear making any kind of mistake as a wife, a friend, an employee, a daughter, a sister, or a customer in the cafe. Today, all of those fears crept in. Insecurity swept in. Pain and panic consumed my thoughts, and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball, but unfortunately, it's frowned upon in public places. We all fail, so why do we continue to put our hope in our own abilities to get ourselves out of ruts like this? "Okay, so let's put our hope in our loved ones". Nope, they fail too. It's in our human nature, we're not perfect! And before you think it, ice-cream will not make your sorrows or fears go away either--at least not completely. God is our constant. He does not fail us, despite our pointing the blame, claiming it was He who failed us as soon as one thing goes wrong in our lives. We forget that we live in a world tainted by hate, acts of war, etc. We cannot expect our fears to be cleared when we put our faith in something or someone other than God. It doesn't happen that way. I'll end with a few ways I've been approaching Pain or Panic lately when they come knocking on the door of my mind and heart:

Welcome them in, then kick them out. It's okay and 100% normal to feel the way you do. We all get kicked to the ground (sometimes by ourselves), so please begin with acknowledging that nothing is wrong with you. These raw emotions are not flaws, they are a natural, messy part of this beautiful life you are living. I'm learning that when I don't understand or accept that these feelings are valid, I often turn them against my inner self and fall even deeper. Step back and take the time to breathe, sit, read (or don't read), listen to good music. Every little thing will be alright.

Set some ground rules. Don't allow your inner critic to take over the mic at the party of confusion and chaos going on in your head during times of trouble and frustration. It's easy to take what she says seriously and begin to believe that you're failing miserably and the world around you is crashing because of you. Even if it's not as dramatic as this, take your inner critic by the hair and tell her to shut it.

Bring in your "home-team". Let me first explain: you don't have to have a gazillion friends to have a home-team. These are your people you turn to for advice, the ones you can trust to be brutally honest with you, to laugh and cry with you, and stick by your side no matter how messy things get. Hold on to those friends. Whoever this person or group of people are (big or small), don't close them off in times like this. Invite them into your mess. I don't mean to brag, but I have the pleasure of running to the world's most gutsy, brave, inspiring, sassy and loving women in moments like this. When we find ourselves in a dark place, our home team shows us the light that guides us out.

When it's especially hard to do so, pray. I can't emphasize this enough. Every time I find myself ugly crying in my car, I'm fighting God. I blame Him for all the ugly events that I'm going through. Then when I've fought until I'm exhausted, I give the fight to Him. My brokenness, my tears--all of it. The problems at hand don't vanish when I do this, but a peace that goes beyond my explanation or understanding falls on me and the heaviness of anxious thoughts is not as great. I don't know what you may or may not be going through right now, but I encourage you to listen for the whispers of grace during those times.

When mistakes are made, when the battle rages on inside of you--fearful child, take heart.

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