Fear Not? Is this even possible?

As my mother breathed her last few breaths, at only 54 years old, I quoted to her the Lord’s prayer followed by her favorite scripture twice. I hoped that the familiar, calming words would peacefully usher her into the next life…. After 3 years of battling cancer and the suffering that accompanies it, all I wanted in the world was for her to have peace, some sense of peace, to not be afraid of what comes next.

Her favorite scripture was Isaiah 43:1-3. Since it references Israel and not my mother directly, I embellished the words to specifically sooth my dying mother. I said, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. You are my precious, precious child and I am your God. You will walk through the waters, but you will not drown. You will pass through the fires, but you will not be consumed. For I am the Lord, your God, and you are my precious, beloved child.”

Mama loved that scripture in its original form. Hopefully, my spontaneous, newly crafted version was even more meaningful. I have thought about the meaning of those words often since her death 21 and a half years ago. See, my mother was a worrier. She had good reason. My father was not caring or supportive in the least. When he left, my brother and I were 11 and 15, respectively. So, my ill-equipped mother became solely responsible for raising us. Her first year, she made $6000 selling real estate. My father never paid a dime of child support

Peace eluded my mother for many years. She feared losing the house, her car, not being able to provide groceries.… But God promises that we are not to fear because no matter how difficult life is, we are protected. God is by our sides even in the midst of our greatest challenges. The things that cause us the most anxiety, the most worry are burdens easily assuaged by God’s comfort and peace. Faith reminds us that God’s way is the better way.  All somewhat reassuring words to hear, but how does this play out in the reality of our stress, anxiety and worry? How do we keep from allowing our anxiety to consume us when many, if not most, of our worries are real concerns?

This is how my mother conquered her obsessive worrying. Ultimately, she learned to harness her worry. First, raising two teenagers alone was a huge undertaking. (My brother and I weren’t the easiest two:-) So, Mama got counseling for all 3 of us, so we could better navigate our “new normal.” She channeled her anxiety around finances into building a successful real estate career. She established routines that were healthy for her. She woke up early each day to plan her day, quietly drink her coffee and then garden a little before launching into her busy day. She rediscovered her huge (and mischievous) sense of humor. (It’s a wonder she didn’t get arrested with some of her crazy stunts.) She learned that when the world came raining down, it was better if she’d find something funny or positive about the situation.

We all get overwhelmed. We all worry. We all have fears. By the same token, we all have coping mechanisms. We all can find ways to channel our negative emotions. We can all establish healthy routines to help get through the rough times. And, we can all reach out for help. If you find yourself needing help, email prumconelamb@gmail.com.  You can be paired with someone from our Friend -to -Friend ministry, a ministry which matches persons who have faced a similar life circumstance to provide a listening ear and support.