Monthly Archives: October 2014

Fear

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Laguna Beach, California

Some people like the charge they get from a “good” horror movie or scary Halloween costume. I am not one of them. Others love the thrill of a roller coaster. No, not that either. After going on numerous rides with my daughters years ago, one day I decided that it wasn’t a good thrill that I got when my stomach flipped while rapidly dropping dramatic distances. That was my last roller coaster ride. Whether you are a thrill seeker or a find life itself enough of a thrill, it’s okay.

Fear can be lighthearted fear at Halloween but also heart wrenching from life events. Fear fills our minds instantly and churns our insides when we get a hint that something is wrong. Fear triggers our autonomic nervous system – what controls our bodies below the level of consciousness. This effects our heart rate, breathing, digestion and even perspiration. Autonomic functions are involuntary but work with voluntary control in the somatic nervous system.

That was technical and I don’t fully understand what I just said. However, it means is that we are frustratingly not totally in control when facing fear. We each experience fear in our individual way, even when faced with the same situation. For some that means dry humor. For others it means prayer and meditation. For some it means curling up in a ball and for others it’s angry screaming.

Fear can take over our bodies such that we spend energy trying to control our physical reactions. We try to not shake, or cry, or stammer, but it happens. We may want to speak but words do not come. Everyone is different, but we all fight a balance of voluntary and involuntary when facing fear. Ranging from controlled worry to the desire to escape our bodies, fear is jarring.

I’ve faced fear in my life. As a kid I was cautiously fearful at Halloween. As an adult, I’ve experienced fear that was physically debilitating. What I learned is that when all is taken away, it is myself and God. I had to choose between the option of trusting my faith in God or giving in to theories of randomness.

I chose faith. Prayer calms me. Asking for guidance from God lightens the weight of my burden. I stepped out in faith believing verses like “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV) and “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

Only when I learned to accept that I’m truly not alone was I able to gain the gift of living and not fearing. Only with the gift of hindsight have I been able to see that I’ve never been alone.

Ghosts and goblins are not for me, but I’ll help with the Halloween candy. . .

Token – The compass that kept getting lost

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Sally’s Compass

 

The compass dates back to the 14th century. It’s an instrument that has marks for each direction – North, South, East, and West. The needle always points north allowing the person holding the compass to assist in gauging their direction. The term “moral compass” is also used to represent guidance through life. The concept of a compass is that of grounding, of right and wrong.

Well, ironically – or maybe not – I got a compass token this summer that I lost twice. Seriously. Only due to serendipitous circumstances was it brought back to me both times.

I didn’t lose any other tokens. Only the compass. I felt a bit sick and very disappointed. You know, the feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is gone and there is nothing you can do about it?  Sometimes life brings huge losses to us much bigger than a lost charm.  We can only accept and adapt to life in a new light.

I acquired the compass on the same day that I found Gina’s hummingbird. It caught my eye in the display case and I kept returning to it. It wasn’t right as Gina’s token, but for me it seemed right. I’ve been on a wild ride in life, and have been challenged at times to know which way is north. I loved the little detail of the charm that marked not just the four directions, but fractions indicating that there is variation between the lines.

First I put it on my necklace. I liked it, but it just didn’t fit. So I removed it, and attached it to my bracelet with the hummingbird. Perseverance in the hummingbird was a good match for feeling grounded and knowing where my life was leading me.

I went on vacation with some friends and wore my bracelet.  I really liked it and would finger the tokens when idle. One day, after getting off a tour bus, my friend asked me where my compass was – as she held it up. She happened to catch it when it fell from my bracelet in the isle of the bus. Oh my, sigh of relief. We laughed though and I tucked it away safely until I could get it fixed.

Quickly I found a jeweler and had it reattached. I breathed a sigh of relief and went on with my day. When at dinner, it was gone again!  This time was very disappointing because we had been wandering around before dinner.  However, sometimes life gives us not only a second chance but also a third. Finding something that we thought was lost gives us a lift in our heart, and a sigh of relief that our mistake had been forgiven.

So, we traced our path prior to dinner. I’m quite sure I was providing entertainment to friends who would never trust me with a kitten after that.  Climbing a set of stairs,  I found the little silver, stretched open ring on the floor. Nearby was a bench that I had been sitting on earlier. I actually walked up to a nice elderly couple sitting on it and asked, maybe it sounded like a demand, that they get up and let me look in case it had fallen while sitting. Bewildered, they slowly rose.

In the meantime, one of my friends found it sitting on a little shelf by the bench. Someone had found it and set it aside in case I returned. How kind was that person who I will never know that had cared. How kind are many people in life who we never get a chance to thank – other than by being kind ourselves to the next person.

I once again tucked my compass into my purse in a safe spot. I couldn’t believe it. Twice lost and twice found. However, when I finally had it securely (I hope) attached permanently to the bracelet, I realized how appropriate the experience had been.

God has given me multiple second chances despite mistakes, circumstance, and fate. He is my compass in life and is always there even if I wander off for a while.

As with my other tokens, a little card was included in my purchase that explained that each direction on the compass has meaning. What the card didn’t state is there are many little variations in direction that can take us southwest, or northeast. A compass provides precise measurement while our lives provide many variations. Second chances and unique directions are what make us each special.