Fear snaked its way through my mind, wrapped itself around my subconscious and then seized my dreams like a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of its prey.
If that sounds ugly, it was. Last night, in the middle of the night, I awakened from nightmares that gripped me with such fear that I found myself sweat-drenched and panic-stricken, my heart pounding wildly.
Three times I rose from my bed and tried to calm my overly stimulated and anxiety-stricken mind, but each time I tried to lie back down again and go back to sleep, panic would overwhelm me. Only fervent prayer proved to eradicate the foreboding feeling that gripped me.
The late President Franklin D. Roosevelt said it all when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear can be such an overwhelming emotion, one that paralyzes you and imprisons you as surely as being placed behind steel bars.
When I was a child, I was frightened of the dark, especially if I had to walk somewhere alone in it, but I eventually overcame that fear. As an adult, I can recall a few times when trepidation seized me with such sharpness, it physically hurt.
When we lived in the Midwest, news circulated about a stalker of sorts who telephoned women when their husbands were away, telling them details of their personal life that he knew. My husband traveled a lot for business and also at the time served in the National Guard. One weekend he was away on Guard maneuvers and I attended a friend’s bridal shower.
My teenage babysitter called me there, fear dripping from her shaking voice, as she claimed an unidentified man had just called our home, thinking she was me and telling her he knew my husband was out-of-town. Terrified, she observed a man walking through the wooded area directly behind our house.
I called the police and hurried home. By then, the man was gone, but the officers took info from the babysitter and told me if he phoned again to be sure to call them.
That night felt like the longest night of my life. My three young children knew little about what had transpired that day and I wanted to keep it that way. After I bathed them and got them settled into bed, I was alone and that’s when terror crept its way into my thoughts.
I didn’t sleep that night, I cringed in my bed with a wooden ball bat gripped in my hands and every little creak or snap that I heard startled me and sent my heart racing. And I prayed for God to protect my children and myself.
My cancer diagnosis five years ago caused the same kind of dread to well up within me. Someone once said, “Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.” I have found that statement to be true because when I devoted myself to prayer and allowed other believers in Christ to pray over me, that overwhelming fear was dispelled. I literally experienced that feeling physically leave my body and I was able to rationally face the ordeal ahead of me.
Currently, my family is facing some uncertainties. I’m sure that’s why my sleep was disturbed by nightmares and my concerns turned to great apprehension last night.
The 12th page of Chapter One (January 12th) in my book of Opportunity finds me refusing to allow fear and consternation cage me in a terror-filled prison. So I will hand over my worries and concerns to God, who is big enough, powerful enough, and almighty enough to handle them for me. Faith breaks open the prison bars that try to keep us locked in a state of panic.
“There is much in the world to make us afraid. There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.” ~Frederick W. Cropp