Saturday, October 23, 2021

Fear Breeds Fear; Faith Breeds Faith

 I was watching Ellie yesterday when we were taking a walk.  She was walking along with the white tip of her tail swishing confidently in the breeze.  Then she saw the big dog.  It was across the street, held on a leash by it's owner.  

A non-fearful Ellie :)
I have to admit Ellie handled it well.  I knew she was triggered by the sight of the dog, but she never barked.  She did pull at the leash a bit, but she sat when commanded.  We turned around and went in the other direction but she continued to look back at the other dog for a while. Seeing this trigger set off her fear.  A few minutes later she was sniffing something in the grass and a leaf blew across the lawn.  She jumped and started as if a Great Dane had just come along side her.  Her fear of the big dog had set off the fear response to almost anything.

I have learned with Ellie that if I can interrupt that response, get her to sit and then calm down, she isn't as reactive and fearful for the rest of the walk.  In fact, things which would usually trigger her, such as runners and strollers, can pass by without a single peep.

I have known the reactivity of fear myself.  I recently have been dealing with a pinched nerve in my neck.  Seeing the doctor, I was speculating he may order an MRI.  Now, saying I don't do well in an MRI tube is quite an understatement.  Ellie's reaction to the big dog would look like the essence of serenity compared to me opening my eyes inside the tiny chute of the MRI machine.  I think that was the one reason I put off going to the doctor for so long.  My mind conjured up all sorts of scenarios involving my reacting to the claustrophobic situation.  My fear bred even more fear.  

The doctor did offer an MRI if I wanted one (he obviously has never seen me get an MRI,) however, he stated it really wasn't necessary for a diagnosis.  The bone spurs were obvious on the X-Ray of my neck.

So often in our lives the thought comes to us, what will we do when this happens? Then all our fears multiply as their brothers and sisters come to join them.  It seems one fear quickly becomes two, then ten, then twenty.

Shortly after my first disastrous attempt at an MRI twenty-five years ago, I began to feel temptations to fear all sorts of situations regarding constraint or small spaces.  It got to the point I felt this fear even putting on a seat belt.  Glen helped me so much to see that I wasn't afraid of the constraint or the tight space, but rather of the fearful reaction to it.  He encouraged me in those instances to turn my mind away from myself and think of others, and to pray for them.  It helped me tremendously in the fearful moments to come.  I knew that while the fear I felt was real, my escalating heart rate was real, the thing I feared was not.  The reaction I was so fearful of was a potential thing, not an actual thing.  I learned that faith in the One who says to us, "It is I, be not afraid" brought a calmness to my soul, and through that, to my body.

Just as fear breeds fear, faith breeds faith.  The more we choose to trust the Lord to be all we need in every fearful situation, the more we will find Him absolutely faithful and trustworthy.  The more we know Him to be faithful and trustworthy, the more we will turn to Him in every fearful moment we face.  We know Him to be true, mainly because the Scriptures say so,

"Jesus saith unto him, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but my Me' " John 14:6.

We also know Him to be faithful because, again, the Scriptures say so,

"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war," Revelation 19:11.

But there comes a time in our Christian lives that we know Him to be "Faithful and True" because we have experienced just that.  We have known His truth, we have experienced His faithfulness to us and we know that in every situation we face, no matter how devastating, painful or fearful, if we trust Him by faith, He will be who and what He says He is.

He is always speaking to us saying,

"Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid."

Mark 6:50

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