In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! – John 16:33
As I made my way home after work, I misstepped as I climbed some stairs and stumbled. Though momentarily startled and jarred, years of experience with my own clumsiness meant I carefully regained my balance. I hadn’t fallen; I was only briefly shaken. I looked around. No one saw this trip up the stairs.
There are days when I’m sure that I am living my life in harmony and peace. On those days, I feel confident and focused, assured that new opportunities are just around the corner. I know that the future promises to be bright with excitement and endless possibility.
Then there are days where I feel worthless and disappointed in myself for the choices I made that brought me to the now. Those days, nothing is right and every step is a stumble. This misstep is seen by the entire world and it laughs at you. It shouldn’t be funny when someone falls, but for some reason we struggle to stifle our laughter. A way to cope because we know that we’ve all been there; we’ve all fallen before? Maybe. From this misstep, recovery is not nearly as graceful. My balance is shaky.
Those darker days are deeply rooted in fear. It’s a real fear that those words of disappointment and unworthiness could be true. I die a little inside when I let the roots deepen and overcome me with worry, growing into a fear that I am a mistake, or I’ve wasted my time and squandered any talent that might have been given to me, if there is any talent to squander. That fear is like a weed, growing out of control and threatening every flower and plant that stands in its way.
Once upon a time, I had it all figured out. Whether it was sleight of hand, a magic trick gone awry or a strong wind from the east, whatever “it” was lay in disheveled ruins. The course was detoured and I grew weary of making other plans, having other dreams. Picking up the pieces, I wondered “what next?”
And that’s when fear established residency in my being. The faith I once had in myself grew dim, if it even glowed at all. Trust was nonexistent. That’s what happens in the dark days.
My fear lives in the hottest deserts. The sun is strong and I struggle to detect any signs of life. Will I find any water to drink that will restore the peace and harmony, bringing back the better days? If I do see the water, is it only a mirage fooling me that things can get better and hope will prevail?
Fear is my weapon, my own self-destructing ammunition. Unsteady, I flirt with the danger of pulling the trigger. A little bit of danger doesn’t scare me, but this kind is unnerving. Here, I come apart.
I read somewhere that falling down is part of life and getting back up is living. It’s a certainty that some of what I had figured out did not work out the way I wanted. There have been plenty of missteps…and I can only imagine there will be a few more before it’s all said and done. The continued challenge is in denying the fear and the darkening shadow of doubt it casts upon me, coloring my perception for the poorer. It is in rejection of the fear and the power it threatens to hold over me that I can become whole again.