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Category Archives: fear

“The tragedy of life is what dies in the hearts and souls of people while they live.”  Albert Einstein

Isn’t that the truth? First of all, think about when you were a child. You had a sense of wonder about everything, because everything was new to you. Children believe in things that adults often don’t, because no one (yet) told them not to. As a child, we are trusting. We will smile at someone that adults would turn away from. We have not yet learned prejudice, judgement, or fear. Children are accepting. They will be a friend to those that the world scorns.

As a child, we are always learning, always asking questions, and always wanting to know more. There is simply not enough time to understand all we want to grasp.

Children have an innocence–a purity that is like freshly fallen snow.  And in that innocence there is such a freedom, to be who they are. The world quickly tries to steal that.

And think about the magic of dreams. As a teenager, we think we can do anything, be anything. The whole world lies before us, and it’s a time when we refuse to face our own mortality, because we feel completely immortal, and invincible. While it may not always be the wisest thing, perhaps it is necessary to see ourselves this way, in order to propel us forward into all that the future holds.

As a young adult, we do not fear extreme sickness or death. That only happens to old people, and we are vital and strong, full of hope and anticipation–ready to conquer the world.

Love is an ethereal thing, a feeling of pure ecstasy and passion. We think it will last forever, and throw all caution to the wind. We are not measured with our feelings, or careful with our show of affection. We simply blurt out “I Love You” every chance we get, and blow kisses on the wind.

So when did all this change? When did we become jaded about life? When did we cease to believe in childhood fantasies? When did we stop smiling at the outcasts of society, and start turning and running away? When did we stop trusting? When did we lose our sense of wonder and amazement about life? Who took our innocence? When did we begin to fear, and start to focus on our limitations?  When did words of love become fewer and fewer? When was passion replaced with indifference? (Which by the way, is truly worse than hatred.) When did we become cautious and guarded? When did we lose our dreams?

There is a time to grow up and mature–a time to put away childish things, but there is never a time to discard our childlikeness. We cannot even enter the Kingdom of Heaven (according to Jesus) unless we become like a little child.  He said “Of such is the Kingdom of God.”

I challenge you today– don’t let these things die, while you still live. Let a sense of awe remain in your heart all the days of your life. Be innocent and pure, without prejudice or arrogance. Don’t lose your childhood sense of freedom.  Be accepting of those that the world rejects. Crave Godly knowledge, for there is always something new to learn right up until your last breath (and even beyond.) Don’t be afraid to express your love, and do it today, because you are not promised tomorrow.

Believe in your inner strength. You can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens you. He tells us that as our days are, so shall our strength be. Always sufficient strength and grace for each new day–whatever we may face. Do not fear, but walk in faith.

Keep dreaming, keep trusting, keep believing! Keep searching for the Truth with all your heart and soul. Refuse to let these things die.  And while the way may be rough at times (as surely it will be) it will never be said that your life was tragic, because you truly lived each day, and knew what it was to be free…

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As long as we have hope, we have direction, the energy to move, and the map to move by. We have a hundred alternatives, a thousand paths, and an infinity of dreams. Hopeful, we are halfway to where we want to go; hopeless, we are lost forever.”  Hong Kong Proverb

The power of hope is an amazing thing. It means “to expect with confidence.” It can be the difference between living and dying. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.” Hope gives us vision, and without a vision, we perish. That may be why so many people (particularly men) die soon after they retire. They’ve lost their purpose. God created us to have a purpose-to have goals, and to anticipate good things.

Notice that the definition meant “to expect with confidence.” Hope has a positive attitude. There’s no room for negativity with hope. The very nature of hope is to believe in something good. The Bible tells us, that as a person thinks in his heart, so is he. If we think positively (relying on God’s promises) we bring positive things into our life, but if we think negatively, negative things come our way. Job said, “The thing I feared has come upon me.” Fear will act as a magnet for bad things. As you begin to dwell on what might happen, you create an acceptance in your heart for it to come to pass. You start to focus on the negative, and before you know it, fear cancels all hope. When you lose your hope, you’ve lost everything.

Audrey Hope (yes, really) wrote, “Change your point of view and everything changes. Hope is the space we jump into, when the next step would be the cliff.” Hope is much more than a Pollyanna outlook, that pretends everything is always fine. Hope enables us to keep believing even when everything is not fine. And yet, we believe that everything is working together for good. Let’s face it–not everything is good, but God can make good come out of the bleakest situation. What Satan intends for evil, God can use for good. Doesn’t that make you feel strengthened? You see, with God, the end is not the end. He can always do more. It seemed too late when Lazarus died. He was buried and decaying, but it was just a chance for God to do a greater miracle. Never forget that–God can always do a greater miracle than you had expected. Don’t limit Him in any way.

Hope gives us energy to keep going forward. Hope tells us that there are hundreds of ways that God can fix our dilemma, or solve our problem, if we just don’t give up. Before your circumstance can change, sometimes your attitude needs to. Everything that is wrong is subject to change! Isn’t that good news? God is not always obvious about His plan, but He is always working behind the scenes to bring it to pass. The Bible also tells us that “Without hope it is impossible to please Him.” God is pleased by hopefulness, not pessimism. Don’t mope around like there’s no reason to live–rejoice in hope. That’s your faith statement–there’s always hope.  Look for things to look forward to. Believe big! Dream big! This pleases God.

Remember-whatever it is that you’re believing for–with hope, you’re halfway there. Miracles can happen when you believe…

See other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

For what is it to die,

But to stand in the sun

And melt into the wind?   Kahlil Gibran

I was reading an article the other day that said the only thing that prevents us from dying a good death is fear and regret. I believe that is profoundly true. If we know where we’re going, and we are at peace about it, there will be little fear about eternity. When people are secure in their knowledge of God and salvation and heaven, I think their greatest fear is not about those things, but rather about dying a painful death–a death where one suffers. It seems that we have done quite well at keeping people alive longer, but not so good at keeping them healthy. Therefore, 2 out of 3 people die in hospitals or nursing homes. That is what we fear the most-suffering and dying away from home and our loved ones. It seems to me that a natural death should be treated with as much attention as a birth.  A person should be surrounded by loved ones, in his or her own bed, if possible. I think we fear nursing homes even more than hospitals. (But hospitals have their own demons.) So fear plays a great part in our thoughts about death. It’s not so much the dying that frightens us, but the process.

And then there’s the question of regrets. Regret means “to be very sorry for.” We can have regrets about things that we’ve done, or things that we haven’t done. While we can’t do a lot about the fear that surrounds the circumstances of our death, we can certainly do a great deal to prevent having regrets. It’s so important at every stage of our life, to take inventory of our relationships with others, of our dreams and goals, and of our satisfaction with ourselves. All these things are crucial if we are to die without regrets. Is there anyone we’re estranged from? We may not always be able to remedy this, but the least we can do is forgive that person to the best of our ability. While God’s heart is always reconciliation, his greatest desire is forgiveness. We can only control what we do and say, and find peace within. Many people live lives of bitterness because they cannot let go of an offense, and the person who hurt them is not suffering at all.

It’s also vital to examine our dreams and goals periodically. The great thing about dreams is that they can change and evolve. Perhaps we haven’t achieved exactly what we once desired, but we have managed to capture the essence of it in some other way. We may not be the professional dancer, but we can be the dance teacher. We might not have reached all our goals, but we can mentor someone who can carry on our vision. All through the Bible, I think that it is evident that God calls generations. Perhaps it is not just one man who can totally fulfill the vision, but in time it will be completed. It is the same in our lives. It is good to view the unfolding of our time on earth this way.

I once lamented to my counselor that I felt I had not achieved as much as I had hoped, and that I had always wanted to be somebody. (Whatever the heck that means.) She pointed out that I had enjoyed so many opportunities that many people do not. I have had my own radio show, been ordained as a minister, been a Bible teacher, taught sign language worship, been a grief counselor, owned a Christian coffeehouse, been a freelance writer and a professional singer, etc. I began to see and accept what she was saying, and realized how blessed I have been, as I have always wanted to be creative. And I have had many opportunities to express my creativity. So when you review or assess your life thus far, look at the opportunities you’ve had to do the things that you enjoy, and are good at. That counts for a lot. And you will often find that you have touched many more people than you ever dreamed. And remember, famous people, and very frequently wealthy ones, are not often happy. It is rare to find those who are. So take joy in your position in life, and your abundant blessings. Some people spend their entire lives just trying to put food on the table, and they never have a chance to think about what makes them happy or fulfilled.

And finally, how do you feel about yourself? Are you always displeased with who you are? Do you worry about how you look? Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time with my elderly, widowed mother, and I have noticed the longings of her heart to enjoy the things of youth again. Whenever we’ve been in the stores this spring, she has noticed the sun dresses, and always remarks how she wishes she could wear them once again. And her skin bruises very easily, and she feels that it is ugly, and I keep telling her that most people aren’t really staring at her bruises, though I understand that it bothers her, that her skin is discolored with black and blue marks. The doctors have said that it is aging, thin skin, and there is little to be done. Growing old is painful in so many ways, because there are so many losses, and when we were younger, we did not think that our lives would pass so quickly. But we can mourn the losses continually, or we can enjoy what we have left, treasuring every moment.

I think one of the greatest things about getting older, at least for me, is that I do accept myself more. I am not so vain as when I was younger. I am not so preoccupied with things that are superficial and really don’t matter, because I have suffered through the loss of loved ones, and I am finally beginning to learn what is really important in life. I do not push myself so hard for perfection, because I have decided that it is not even something that I desire. I learn from my mistakes, and find them valuable. I am learning to like myself a little more, and to do things that make me happy, because I am so much more aware of the passing of time.

So there you have it. There is only fear and regret that can rob us of a good death. We must turn to God with our fears, trusting in His love and care, and look to ourselves to make sure that we have no regrets…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

“Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.” Grace Hansen 

Fear is what makes us lose this moment, while worrying about the future. Many of us search for security, and a comfortable existence. Don’t rock the boat; don’t stir the nest. But boats that don’t rock are quite boring, as are ships that never sail the seas. They are safe in harbor, but that is not the purpose of a boat. And when mother eagles feel it’s time for their little ones to fly, they begin to stir the nest, and make them uncomfortable. For who will ever learn to fly, if the nest holds all our dreams? 

Life was meant to be exciting, but fear imprisons us with warnings of, “Better be careful. Better take it easy. Don’t get your hopes up.”  Well what good are hopes that are down? Low hopes never helped anyone achieve anything. I say let your hopes rise to the sky, and never let them falter. If we view everything with hesitancy, we will always be afraid to move forward, because there are no guarantees about anything. But how much better, at the end of life to be able to say, “I tried.” If you tried, you did not fail. The only real failure is not making an effort to make your dreams come true.

Like the quote says, it’s not about fearing death…it’s about living life–to the fullest.  I can’t imagine anything sadder than to get to the end of life, and have regrets about things that you could have experienced. That’s not to say that we must do grand things, because sometimes the grandest things of all are the simplest. It’s about living every moment–greeting everyday as a great adventure, with anticipation and excitement about what the day holds. It’s about seeing beauty in the things that the some would hardly even notice. It’s about living and loving on purpose. Yes, on purpose. We are not made to blindly roam this earth without an understanding of our brevity here. For while the soul does indeed go on, there is only this one chance to be on earth. There is only this moment to love our families and friends, and to make a difference by our existence. That difference may be as simple as encouraging others, taking care of the elderly, nurturing a child, or giving of ourselves as the opportunity arises. Greatness is not found in the grandness of the task, but in the generosity of spirit.  I am reminded of a quote by Mother Teresa that always touched me deeply. She said, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

So, as you can see, it is not the end of life that should give us pause, but rather life itself. I somehow think that the end of life will not be nearly as frightening as we might imagine. What is truly frightening for many, is living life…

 Please see other articles that I have written here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

 

Sometimes the only way we can face our fears is to voice them. (That is not in keeping with some of my Charismatic Christian teaching.) However, for me it is truth. Sometimes a thing will torment me, until I can get it out, and down on paper. It’s almost like a deliverance of sorts. Once it’s given a voice, the fear of it diminishes. Of course, I do not recommend dwelling on fears, because that is when fear will consume you. It loves to be the focus of attention, and it will dance with all its might, given a chance. (But this is not about that.) This is a type of fear therapy. It’s almost as if it has more power if I try to repress it. By bringing it to the light, it is not a hidden monster, festering in the depths of my anxiety-ridden soul.

When my step-dad (since I was 7 years old) died about 3 years ago, it was so unexpected that it threw everything in my life out of sync. He had retired to take care of my mom, who had been close to death’s door, at least twice, in the not too distant past. He was always a rock– so solid, unshakable, dependable, and strong. He was 6’4″, and the biggest man that I had ever laid eyes on, at the time I met him. He wore a size 13 shoe.

We did not get along at first. It took a very long while for a friendship of sorts to emerge. It actually took until I was grown for us to realize that we’d been through so much together, that it would have to make us close. While we didn’t share philosophical discussions (because he just wasn’t that type), we did share a history-a past that meant we would  forever be a part of each others lives.  Sometimes the three of us would sit in their living room watching TV, and just out of the blue he would say, “Lonnette?” And I’d look his way, and then he’d say, “I love you.” I came to trust him–almost. (The truth is I don’t really trust anyone much.) But what I did trust, was the fact that he would always be there.

I have always called my mom “Betty”.  I guess it was because we lived with my grandparents in my early years, and everyone in the household called her “Betty”, and I can only assume that no one taught me to do differently. It seems odd, and it is one of things that I’ve never gotten an answer to. I often wonder if she wanted me to call her “mama.” As it turns out that was what I called my grandmother–that, and a “mammaw” kind of word. My grandad was “pawpaw.” And my male cousin, Jack, who was 4 years older, also lived there because his mother had died. So everyone called her “Betty.”

At any rate, she is an insulin dependent diabetic, with a million other health concerns-rheumatoid arthritis, fybromyalgia, previous heart problems, etc. She is getting very feeble due to her conditions and the arthritis, and she sometimes gets off balance and falls. And her blood sugar also goes low unexpectedly. I have saved her from going into a coma numerous times since my dad died, and no matter how many times I’ve done it, it never ceases to be frightening, until she is herself again.

When my dad needed triple bypass surgery, we all assumed it would be like so many other things in his life-difficult, but doable. He had been through numerous back surgeries (as well as other kinds) throughout his lifetime, and though they were always unpleasant–he was always strong and resilient. As my regular readers know, he made it through the surgery fine, but he died from hospital acquired complications-pneumonia, staph, and serratia. (Not to mention general hospital negligence.) And though we were constant advocates for him, our voices were not heard. We felt helpless to fight a system that is patronizing and cold. I spoke up continually, always fighting the fear of alienating health-care workers that were vital to him. But no one would listen. We could see that he was deteriorating–dying. But they had him in physical therapy, and treated him like he was just another patient with a broken arm, or a knee surgery. But he was dying right before our eyes, and our screams of anguish were ignored until near the very end, when it was far too late to save him.

So that is background to what I need to say tonight. Ever since he died, as I said, my life has been out of sync. It’s as if someone took the carpet of my life, snatched it out from under me, shook it hard, but never put it back down. And now everything’s out of place. I don’t think I’ve ever breathed the same again, or had the same carefree moments I must have once had. It’s as if I’m climbing a mountain every day, and swimming an ocean at night. I do not rest. I never stop thinking. I never really relax. My nervous system has had an almost fatal blow, and to some degree has shorted out. I’m a mess. Mentally and physically. (But sometimes I hide it well.)

I thought initially that I would have to keep my mom alive. I thought that I was responsible for her happiness, for her health, and for everything in her life. I tried to be what I could not ever be–(Sam), (and also God.) But there was only one Sam, and surely only one God. And I was just Lonnette.

Counseling helped me through a great deal of that kind of thinking, and though I may still think that way occasionally, I understand that those perceptions are flawed. I fluctuate between hyper-vigilance, and trying not to care so much.

My daughter had provided all the drama that was needed, from the time we adopted her at 3, until she left our home at 18, and at the time of Sam’s death, I was already starring in “The Diary of A Mad Mother.” I thought my stress level had already peaked. (Boy was I wrong.)

So here I am. I’ve been given 5 weeks to lose 8 pounds, or go on the needle for my diabetes. My blood sugars have been too high for over a year now. (Maybe two.) My mom and my bio dad (Lonnie) both turned out to be Type 2 diabetics (mid-life) on the needle. So I am exercising, eating right, and praying, and nothing seems to be working. My body fights like a warrior to hold onto this extra weight, and of course, no one will believe that I am doing all I can. (However, my husband (who is an attorney) said that he will send a sworn affidavit with me to my next doctor’s appointment. 🙂

How do I feel about all this? Fearful. Lonely. I know what diabetes does to a person. I have watched it ravage my mom year after year. I also know what it’s like to go low. It is frightening, and many people don’t even get the warning signs (my mom doesn’t) and they die…alone. More than the needle–that’s what I’m afraid of. Going low all the time like my mom.

My husband has always been there for me whenever I’ve been sick. He has nursed me through many illnesses. But diabetes is different. It just is. Anyone close to you needs to really understand it, and I confess that for many years I did not know as much as I should. There has been a tendency for both of us to be in denial. My diabetes was not diagnosed in the usual way, and we were not convinced (for many years) that I even had it. (And I did not act like I did.) Now we cannot deny it anymore, and I just don’t know if he realizes how scary this is for me. I just don’t want my life to change forever, which is what I see happening, if I go on the needle. But if I don’t get the blood sugar under control, this hideous disease will do its dirty deeds, and life will also change forever that way. I am so willing to do whatever I need to do to avoid being on insulin, but nothing seems to work. I feel hopeless at times. I guess with all the other stress in my life, this has been the last straw.

So there, I’ve said it. Stress just adds to health complications. I have been under horrific stress for as long as I can remember, and I’m just weary. Just plain old weary. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Don’t know where that saying comes from.)

There is nowhere I can turn–except to God. I cry out to you Jesus…

Please read other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

There is no way to put into words the pain of realizing that you cannot protect the child you have nutured and loved. You can no longer provide that sanctuary of security that kept her safe for so many years. She is on her own now, and claims to know so much more than we do.  She is so wise, yet so naive. Suddenly at almost 19, there is nothing she cannot do, and she reminds us of it constantly. (We have become so amazingly unintelligent, that it’s a wonder we can find our way home.) 

She takes risks and puts herself in situations that defy reason and logic. (But of course, reason and logic are not part of a teenager’s vocabulary.)

She has heard our warnings so many times, that she can play the violin smoothly through all of them. (We are so out of touch and misguided.)

She cannot know the fear of getting a phone call in the middle of the night that will change your world forever. Nor can she know what it is to sit up in bed suddenly and just feel that something is terribly wrong. All mothers are psychics to a degree, and uneasy prophets. We try to dismiss that ethereal grip of unspoken knowing… just knowing.

We cry from disappointment, we cry from fear, and we cry from longing for days gone by. To once again be able to pull up the covers, and snuggle like teddy bears, and know that all is right with the world, at least for a moment.

I have faced the monsters that hide under the bed, and the ghosts that linger in the corner. And I was brave and courageous, because this was my child they were terrorizing. But they were not half as scary as the demons she fights now-friends who are evil, and a world that wants to rob her of her innocence. If only I could chase those monsters as easily.

So I have to watch helplessly, as she falls into the abyss of darkness and compromise. I scream as she nears the edge, but she cannot hear me anymore. She has gotten too far from my reach, or even the sound of my voice. And I can hear the echos of childhood, as she falls deeper and deeper.

There is no pain like a mother’s pain. No love as pure, or sorrow as deep. My baby girl, where have you gone and why did you have to leave?…