Saturday, January 25, 2014

Facing Your Fears

Last night was Date Night for my sweetie and me. Because the key word in date night is frugal, we were thrilled to find a FREE activity happening at our local library.  A young woman from the Bellingham area was sharing through words and slides, her record breaking experience of hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail last summer. She set a new record for how quickly this hike has ever been done but that wasn't the reason hearing her talk piqued our interest. I had recently completed the true-life story "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed, another epic adventure of a hiker on the PCT and as I have stated in previous posts, hiking the PCT isn't on my bucket list, but there is a fascination for me with hearing about others who have accomplished this daunting and thrilling task. So going to hear Heather Anderson share about her experience was something both Bruce and I were instantly drawn to.

Heather said one of the goals of her trek over this hike was to face down two fears. Because she was going for a record breaking time she knew she'd have to hike into the dark hours each day and so that was fear #1, hiking at night, and fear # 2; mountain lions/cougars. She encountered not just one, not just two, but SEVERAL mountain lions during her two month hike and she did cover a lot of ground after the sun went down. She conquered both of her fears. She said the night hiking has a beauty all of it's own and as for the lions, she barked and yelled and acted bigger than them and it worked. I can only imagine how accomplished she feels. I know the measure of joy I feel when I face down a challenge and rise above it.

The PCT, if you are not familiar, is the famous trail that stretches from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. Over 2600 miles that forges over mountain ranges, sloughs through dessert, and thrills all the senses as it does so. At least, that's what I gather from reading others accounts. I wouldn't know personally; I've never hiked any of the PCT although my husband has done a couple of short sections in Washington State. As I said, I have no burning desire to hike the PCT, at least not the whole thing! I have no burning desire to even do an overnight hike, preferring my treks into the wilderness to be contained to at the most an all day adventure, free from bugs and extreme temperatures. But I am interested in facing my fears.

It's interesting to note that my ladies small group recently started the book "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldridge and some topic of discussion has been about fear. Not so much about fears such as being afraid of the dark, or fear of spiders, etc, but more along the lines of. what is that deeply rooted fear that drives me in my sin patterns.

Yes. Sounds like a lot of fun to go digging after doesn't it?

Probably a fear most women have in common is that of not being loved. Accepted.  Not feeling wanted or needed. Of not being found with beauty. The question/comment in the study guide that made me the most uncomfortable this week was: Underneath our sin is a deep fear. What are you most afraid of? 

As I mulled this over all week I finally came up with this realization; I  fear not being accepted. I find that when I am treated with an air of dismissal, when someone doesn't  fully acknowledge me, or my offering is treated with disrespect, I shut down. My wall of defense goes up, I retreat and I withhold myself. It's out of protection to be sure; my battered heart will only take so much. But I realize that in that pattern of protection lies the fear of "this might happen. this is going to happen."  and it sets me up to raise the wall of defense before it is ever needed. As a result, I withhold some of myself before it's ever proven that there is a need. I short change others in our exchanges because I don't trust. I wont risk.

To be sure, these modes of protection can be a good thing. A necessary thing. But it's also very tiring. And what about when the people I don't trust or the situations that I don't want to risk, are the very people and things that God has brought my way for the very purpose of facing those fears and being set free?

Hmm. Food for thought. Something that I am pretty sure will be delved into in depth over the course of the next several weeks. Stay tuned....

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