A short story of overcoming fear, leaning on Faith, and remembering Favor.
Have you ever wondered what causes fear? What causes phobias? How do you know if you have a phobia? I think about this as I pass the jar of black olives causing my knees to jump. I have an olive phobia. I’m not sure when it started or why but I know for certain it’s a real fear. The thought of touching them makes my flesh crawl. I think about a time I was eating dinner at someones house, specifically a supreme pizza. I remember looking down and seeing a half bitten black olive hanging from the pizza. I immediately felt sick and quickly excused myself but not quick enough. Thankfully she, “the host”, didn’t have an issue with cleaning up half eaten pizza. I cringe and gag a little thinking about biting into the olive. The ones with the ‘evil red/pink eyes (which I just recently was told was called a “pimento”) are the worse. I have to admit, the olives….green and black, did nothing to me. No bad experiences that I can remember. No one ever tortured me and made me eat a jar of olives. Nothing. I am also well aware that olives can not harm me….unless of course I were to eat a full jar of olives. At worst case, some digestive issues but no serious harm to me from olives. The fear, or threat, that I feel is completely superficial. It isn’t real. I thought about this for the rest of the evening. I would think about this petty fear over the next week, when suddenly a greater fear arose. A fear that wasn’t as superficial.
Growing up in Louisiana and living in Texas, I’m use to tornadoes. It happens, we clean up, and keep it pushing. Although I’ve read stories and seen on the news(especially recently) people losing their lives during a tornado, I ignorantly considered it a rare thing. Although cautious, I would never consider myself fearful of tornadoes; hilarious considering my fear of a small pickled fruit. How can I possibly fear olives and not tornadoes. What causes fear? How does fear affect my thoughts? Is fear real? Have I allowed superficial fear to hinder me physically? Can my Faith be bigger than my fears? I would ask myself these questions during the next few insomnia filled nights after experiencing an unexpected tornado on Father’s Day. I think back how the day started nice with clear skies and yet, in Texas that means nothing. One moment there is Sun and a breeze, and the next half second rain and hail. The weather is so moody, but that’s probably just the South.
I decided to visit with my sister and brought the boys so they could play with their cousins. We chose to meet at a park since it was such a nice day. We were mid conversation when I begin to notice the huge dark clouds starting to form. No quicker than we could gather the kids the rain begin to come and the wind started to pick up. Within 5 minutes there were 7 bodies in my sister’s car and a tornado approaching with a quickness. This was a first. I’ve never been outside during a tornado and I’m pretty sure we should be far away from trees. It was the first time since early childhood that I can remember being scared of a tornado coming. My anxiety begin to rise and the hint of fear was present. The kids felt the nervous energy. I remember thinking, we just need to drive as quickly as possible to the house, which in fairness wasn’t far. I gathered myself and looked at my sister with my calmest voice I said, ” We probably should just try to leave and get to the house.” My sister gave me a quick uneasy look and replied a few seconds later with, “we might be safer here, we might have to let it pass.” There was a loud roar of thunder and a blinding flash of light. There was a kid that beginning to cry. At the first whimper, I froze. I’m the adult and I’m suppose to know what to do. To add to my pending fear, my sister’s response was one that caused more anxiety. “Nah, we’re going to have to sit here. We’re fine.” my sister responded immediately after hearing the cry. All I could think was ‘GO’ to which my sister responded almost in song, “We are good. My God ain’t allowing anything to happen to me, so it just going to have to pass by because we’re staying.” As the whistling of the tornado got closer, the rain pounded harder and the wind got stronger. My sister wasn’t letting up and neither was the tornado. She put her emergency break on and begin to go before God……
“Father God, I know you don’t want us to fear this and I know that we are covered….” she begin to speak. As she begin to speak, not only was she declaring our protection but she was also speaking the word of God over us. For me, being reminded why God had us covered brought more comfort than she could have ever brought. My sister begin to speak PEACE, she begin to speak PROTECTION. I listened and was reminded of a sermon I heard recently. I immediately went to my notes on my phone and as if it had been waiting for me it sat there. Highlighted and underlined Cheat Sheet, I exhaled and started to read….”Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.” I repeated again and again. Be anxious for nothing I repeated with more confidence. ” Do not fear I am with you…..” I begin to thank Him for our safety. In that moment there was a slight shake of the car, followed by a quick, solid nudge. The trees begin to bend and sway and the wind and rain covered our surroundings. It reminded me of a snow globe, just not as peaceful to look at.The declaring of safety and praise didn’t stop as the tornado passed. Outside it looked horrible but inside my sister’s Chevy we were at peace. Complete peace.
I stopped and laughed at myself, this fear I allowed to form was completely superficial. I can appreciate my sister for being able to recognize a real threat versus an annoyance, inconvenience. I can appreciate her for listening to the Holy Spirit. I’m grateful for her obedience. Nonetheless, once the tornado passed and we were able to move, we quickly realized how Blessed we are. There were trees broken and power lines down all around us. There were many accidents and even flooding. We didn’t experience any of it. Although we knew there were things happening, we didn’t know it was to that extent. It makes me think, had I panicked and tried to outrun the tornado, what would have happened? If my sister didn’t give me the courage to speak to God and declare my peace, what kind of upset would that have caused as the children watched us for their cue. This makes me grateful for God’s protection from the unseen. What does this mean for other areas of my life? We sat and watched the last tornado pass with zero damage to us or our property. This reminds me of the truth of God, his love for me and the comfort He provides. Big or small, God has me covered and there is no reason to fear. It reminds me to pray and declare my peace, safety, to make my request known. It reminds me to speak the word of God while declaring these things, as this is just an added boost to our prayers. A boost not only because it comforts but it’s true. Not only do I need to speak the word of God but most importantly, trust what it says. I can’t worry and fret. One of the biggest lessons to learn….Faith cancels Fear out.
Faith, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith means to have trust, complete confidence, which is in direct conflict of fear. Fear indicates worry or danger. When we pray and completely believe that our prayers are being heard, it literally leaves no room for fear, worry or doubt of the unknown. Sometimes we pray and ask for things out of fear or pray without confidence and it really shows in our lives and conversations. Thinking back to me being in the car reading my notes and jumping every time I saw a flash of lightening. I may have been speaking the word of God, but I had no confidence in what I was saying. Every Boom and flash the first minute had me checking my chest to make sure my heart was still in tack. However, as I read and remembered God’s goodness in the past, I gained my own confidence. Although I would have rather not have been stuck at the park during this , I was completely confident that God was with me and that this was for a reason. God used my sister that day to remind me of His word as well as His promise for my life. She reminded me the confidence that we should have when we go before him. He said that he will never leave nor forsake us and in that moment I felt ever bit of that. I felt renewed. I felt that I had conquered something major and that it was time for the next challenge.
As I begin to face small fears and challenges, I am reminded of God’s sense of humor. I lived some of my biggest nightmares in the last few years and survived. I’ve walked away from situations recently that I thought would kill me or at the very least leave me with lifelong scares. Yet, I have a fear of olives and strong uncomfortability with mushrooms. I can walk away from everything that I know and start over, but scared to take a mental health day from a job causing me to have to take a mental health day? I enjoy supporting and promoting new business but it scares me to promote myself or invest in me? What am I really afraid of? I think about the Favor I was shown time and time again. The favor when I was chosen at my job(coming in) to have 3 consecutive days off instead of 2 split days. The type of favor that allowed me to ride on 2 bad tires for months without an accident or injury. How is it we can sit in the middle of a tornado and be at peace. How can I achieve this level of peace in all areas of my life. These are the questions and goals that I think about and set during another sleepless night work night. I begin to giggle because something tells me that overcoming this Fear of ‘things’ will help me sleep a lot more peaceful. I drift off peacefully to sleep dreaming of the new blessings and the many victories there are to come alone this journey.