Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where Fear is Slave

I remember reading a story as a child. I don't quite remember all of it, but it had to do with a sign on a mailbox that read G.I.Ant. Removing the punctuations, the words read "giant," with the punctuations, it could have stood for Geronimo Ignatius Ant, or Geraldine Imelda Ant. However, few people dared find out what it was. They read the words "giant" and immediately feared impending doom. Perhaps, they may have had unpleasant encounters with giants in the past and now were scarred by the experience. If only they cared to knock on the door, a poor little ant whose initials were G.I. would have welcomed them in.

Last week, I had a G.I.Ant moment. I got a salad from Chick-fil-A. I was going to write I got a salad from a fast food place, but God forbid it was some other place...My order was wrong to begin with and there was no silverware in the bag. I took the salad home either way and called to let the manager of the location know. A few bites into my meal, I began to choke on the salad. It was not horrific by any stretch, but it scared me. I managed to have a few bites but I had to give up on the salad eventually.

Later the same evening at a dinner event, I was about to put a piece of salmon in my mouth, when all of a sudden I was gripped by fear. Fear of choking on my food. I got so scared I didn't eat a bite of the food and the food was good...salmon, spring salad, pasta, cremé brulee, key lime pie, and cheese cake. I put a piece of the whipped cream to my lips and the fear paralyzed me. I came home hungry and gave little thought to the fear that now seemed to envelope me.

On Sunday, I didn't eat a bite. I was stricken with fear. Finally with my sister sitting in my room, I managed to eat a cup of yogurt and tea in an hour and half. I was frozen. The days rolled by. Sunday turned into Monday, gave way to the end of Wednesday, all I had eaten was the yogurt, tea, and some fish soup. I looked up choking on the internet and realized that I was becoming prey to a condition called "pseudodysphagia," or irrational fear of choking. This is a psychological disorder where the sufferer fears choking on foods, and adopts a liquid diet because some foods are seen as unsafe and viewed as hazardous.

This may seem light but by yesterday, I had only had one full meal. I had little snacks inbetween, spending perhaps twenty five minutes on two cookies. I prayed with my family and some friends and had to believe God that this torment was a lie devised by the devil. If I could gulp down three glasses of milk, then why was I afraid to eat a piece of chicken. I had to realize that Satan was trying to create fear in my heart. In my despair I reached for scripture after scripture and I found comfort in John 17:15, "...that you protect them from the evil one." This was a direct prayer Jesus prayed to the Father before his crucifixion. It resonated deeply with me that Jesus had taken the time to pray for his sheep before his departure. Reading the entire chapter, I found prayers that addressed almost every challege we could potentially face.

The fear of choking, the fear of heights, of speaking in public, arachnophobia, of death, of poverty, sickness, the fear of G.I.Ant. Fear can take hold if we let it, but God reminds us that he has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. I suffered for a whole week at one time feeling really weak and exhausted. I knew God was present, but I didn't trust him full when I should have. Don't let fear put you in a corner. Be bold and take the plunge trusting that the one who bids you come will not let you fall. Go out on a limb and let God bear the shame if you fail...because you won't. He'll be there to rein you in and will not let go. So today, stare down your fears and remember God's got your back.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Gift of Time

I haven’t written in so long that I almost believe I may need to relearn the art of writing. It is true that when God endows us with gifts, those gifts are lasting. However, even the most gifted of us must practice. If Michelangelo only sculpted when he was in the mood, if Oprah only spoke on days she felt like doing so, Tiger only played when his secrets were in the closet, if Alvin Ailey only danced…okay, so I believe I’ve made my point clear.

Lately, I’ve had some time on my hands, time I’ve spent doing mostly nothing. Sometimes I decry the constant boredom. I wish I were doing. Doing academic work, doing some kind of work, just doing. I am a doing person. I hate being idle. Sometimes I don’t know exactly how to relax because I am always planning or scheduling activities in my head. It’s just my nature. I detest boredom. I don’t leave my home without reading material. I am terrified of being somewhere and not having a book or magazine to read. This doesn’t mean I am some hermit who uses the excuse of a book to ignore human company. I enjoy company but I’d much rather read.

So, as I have all this time on my hands, I keep wishing I were doing something else. However in the midst of wishing I were doing, I suddenly stopped a few afternoons ago. I realized that this might be the only time in my life for a long time, when I am completely and totally in control of my time. A time will come in my life when my time may not be mine alone. When my life will be given to the dictates of family, work, and other pressing demands of life.

As devoid of awe as this revelation was, it was one of those moments Isaac Newton must have had on the verge of great invention. I realized I had a great gift, one that many seek, but only few ever posses; the gift of time. Upon this realization, my thinking shifted. Sometimes in life, nothing major has to change. We don’t have to come into great wealth or find the elixir of youth. We just need a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking. So, in the meantime, I need to make sure I use this gift of time wisely to ensure I give back to the Giver a gift in this time.