Fear is a virus – so easy to catch – and when it runs its course it can be debilitating. I often write songs about overcoming fear because it is a message I truly need to repeat over and over. It makes me feel empowered to sing from the perspective of a fear-junkie who has beaten the bug. My own lyrics – these words were gifts to me, wrapped in a melody – they only ever make it to the stage if they bear repeating.
Something new that I am learning about fear: it’s one thing to fear for yourself and it’s another thing to fear for your child. For the first couple of weeks that I knew I was pregnant Randy really wanted to keep it a secret, just in case it didn’t work out. This was how we were advised and it seemed like wisdom. So my first experience with pregnancy before I could talk about it openly with anybody was fear. That first fear, the fear of miscarriage, in that early stage makes it hard to celebrate the good news. Then came the paranoia. Addiction to Google searches can put a pregnant girl’s fear on steroids. People love to tell their horror stories, they love to judge and warn to spread old-wives-tales and rumors, maybe even with good intentions. It’s enough to make even a healthy person feel like a crack addict. Everything that touched my lips, my skin, even fumes in the air made me worry and I found myself constantly typing every worry into that little Google box. Sure enough almost all of it came back with a big fat red NO as an answer. I was so paranoid about doing things wrong that when I first went out with my friend Shelly and told her the news she was like “Girl, you’ve gotta get excited about this – you seem so stressed out!”
Finally I called a friend who is a midwife and she kindly stayed on the phone with me for over an hour as I raked through a list of questions and worries. She eased me back from the edge. A week later when I met my midwife Joanne she worked a few more knots out. Her philosophy is more like “Unless you are actually doing crack, drinking a pint of whiskey a day or living on Mountain Dew and Ho Ho’s you are not going to kill your baby. Just try to make the best choices you can each day and remember that stress and worry is just as bad as junk food and diesel fumes”
As my pregnancy progressed I have learned to listen to my body more and focus on adding healthy things, instead of freaking out about avoiding unhealthy ones. But there is another fear, a deeper one that has surfaced lately in my dreams and journaling. The fear of bringing a child into this world. I think this one got me young and planted its roots pretty deep because it is a big part of the reason I have waited till I was 35 to even seriously consider having children.
From my teens until around the time I turned 30 I thought the world was spiraling downward. Watching the news like Theoden watching the orcs storm his stronghold, white-faced, saying “What can men do against such reckless hate?” (Lord of the Rings) I think I have been waiting for the world to end in a terrible way. Then in the last few years I have shifted to a longer view of things, in both directions of the timeline, past and future. I have started to realize that for all the horrors of this current age, it is no worse than it has ever been. Even Jesus said there will always be poverty; there will always be war. People will always be inventing new ways to be cruel to each other. And though it doesn’t take away the pain of it, it is no longer such a shock when horrible things like school shootings and bombs at public events happen. There are stories of snares in every “safe” place. I cannot keep myself safe or predict what tragedies might lie in wait for me in the future. I can only plant seeds each season, walk in the direction my feet are pointed, trust God, and not let fear rule me.
My favorite verse in the Bible, and I say it every time I feel afraid, is “God has not given us a spirit of fear. He has given unto us a spirit of power, a spirit of love and a sound mind.”
So I am writing a new song. Right now the chorus goes something like this:
“I believe it’s a good time to be born. I believe it’s a good time to begin. I believe it’s a good time to start over again.”
It’s not profound, but it’s important for me to say, if only for my own mental health. I need to repeat the words that remind me that this world is full of hope in every direction. It always has been.