Thump… thump thump….. thump thump thump…… sawing sounds. I was already scared, but the sounds from the next room didn’t alleviate those fears. I waited. It’s difficult to sit still when you’re dreading what’s coming, so, I played at the hem on my shirt and tugged it down over my waistband again. I rearranged my feet at the foot of the chair. I waited. Then, she arrived to deliver the bad news: the price.
I’d already been numbed from the shot that was supposed to take away the pain of the drill, thankfully. Too bad there’s not a numbing solution that will protect your heart from sticker shock. A replacement wouldn’t be enough. That filling had been slowly disintegrating and now needed a root canal and a crown. What I had bargained for (if bargaining is the right word) was a low ball estimate. Root canals and crowns, I’ll have you know, are more expensive than a single mother of two, who hasn’t been paid in 6 weeks, can afford. That’s a real fear for me. I have written before about my teeth-falling-out dreams. I live in fear of losing teeth. I’m more fearful of $2000 to fix just one of them. So there, that’s what scared me today. Down to my core, I was anxious about paying it off, finding money to deal with the pain. I have seen too many fearful people, lately.
I wrote last night on facebook that I routinely worry that my cat will jump into my refrigerator and I’ll close the door without realizing she’s inside. Then, as my nightmare goes, Wendy will be the one to discover a frozen feline and I’ll never make that up to her. Other friends posted their fears about cats in dryers or on blacktop driveways, pool alligators, men under their bed and street grates. I’m not alone in my fears, whether the law of averages bears them out or no. I didn’t want to seem like a complete pansy, but I’m also really afraid of geckos and a sudden shift in the earth’s magnetic poles. These are fears of things that in all likelihood, will not hurt me.
The Pew Foundation recently found that American Christians don’t know much about religion, their own or anybody else’s. Atheists and agnostics performed better on a 32-question survey about world religions and religious rights in the U.S. than Mainline Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and Jews. The questions most often missed by Christians, they say, are ones pertaining to the Bible in school. Sixty-seven percent incorrectly believed that a teacher in a public American high school did not have the right to read from the Bible as a literature text. Only 36% recognized that comparitive religion could be taught in high schools. Based on what I’ve observed, that means that Christians are more afraid that their rights in public schools are being infringed upon than should be.
I have rational fears (like how to pay for my dental procedure), irrational fears (who is afraid of geckos, I mean, seriously?) and fears that have been ratcheted up and overblown (that flying is more dangerous than driving, etc). What we do in the shadow of fear is entirely our choice. I could run. I wish I could go into the debtor protection program and start fresh. I would wear dark glasses and call myself Elisabeth or Angela- though now telling you all that seems like a mistake. I could turn around and stand up to my fears with education, with deprogramming, with sheer pluck, or, I can do what I choose to do now, give it up.
I’m turning it over. I’m willing to give God my fears, real, stupid or really stupid, fears in exchange for peace, and comfort and courage and rest and security and trust and light. The message delivered to shephards in the field resonates with me today, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” Joy is the antidote to fear. Joy heals fear. Joy overpowers fear. Our fears are scary. Even if we have nothing to fear but fear itself, fear itself can still scare the poop out of you, but “joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5) and “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). I, for one, plan to use the latter spirit to defeat the spirit of Fear.