Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spiders, Yoda, and Fear

Usually my posts come from things that have been stuck in my brain for a long time. (ok, some of them are just venting or blah blah blah or funny things my kids say).   This is one of those that has been in my mind for at least a year.


I hate that word.  The word "fear" itself sends shivers up my spine.

"Fear is the antithesis of faith. It is corrosive in its effects, even deadly.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7)."
President Gordon B. Hinckley (New Era Jan 2002)

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear." 1 John 4:18

"Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering." Yoda

President Hinckley, the Savior, and even Yoda have all been clear that fear is a dangerous thing.  And the opposite of love and happiness.  In his talk, President Hinckley points out that some people feel fear to a greater degree than others.  I think that might be me.

I have such a fear of fear- that I am almost superstitious in my regard for it.  That is part of why this blog post has sat in the corners of my mind for over a year.  I am afraid that even verbalizing my fears will somehow make them come true like a baseball player who knows that if he washes his socks he will strike out.  So I keep them bottled up inside making me more afraid, and he has stinky nasty feet that make him more rich.

I have tried hard to overcome my fears.  Like the time I let a gigantic spider climb up my arm in Madagascar because the other missionaries claimed it would help me overcome my fear of spiders.  (P.S. I really wish I knew where the picture of that is so I could put it on here and you would see that I was not only brave on my mission, but very very chubby!) I believed the missionaries (mainly because one of them was Navajo and I swear he had a strange sixth sense, like the time he instinctively woke up in the middle of the night right before we called him for help because a witch was breaking into our apartment.  Yep, all of that happened.)  when they said that if I let a giant spider climb my arm I would be cured.  If you have witnessed my reaction to a hairy little arachnid in the past 8 years you will know how effective that little exercise was. (And if you haven't seen my reaction I am certain that you have heard it, since I am sure my screams of terror can be heard in outer space).

Other fears, that are much more haunting than spiders or heights, seem to be much more difficult to overcome.  In light of a friend's recent loss- I am referring to the death of a loved one. This seems to be my fear to trump all fears.  And it is extremely difficult for me to even verbalize it.  (again, because saying it out loud would cause it to happen, like simply soaking those nasty home run socks would break the hitting streak) But since I trust Yoda, who claims that "fear of loss is the path to the Darkside", and since I believe President Hinckley, who asserts that I can not have faith and fear at the same time- I am trying to overcome it.

The problem is: how?  Is it like the spiders in Madagascar?  The only way to overcome it is to let the giant evil beast climb up my arm?  That might even be the reason this is such a fear of mine.  I have never had death get that close to me.  (there is that yucky feeling that I am jinxing myself, even though I believe in a God that doesn't jinx) The few times it has been close enough to view I can't take my eyes off the ones that are left behind.  I am not afraid of me dying.  Although now that I mention it, I am afraid of pain... But I am really terrified of losing someone that I need, or love, or can't imagine living without.  So I can't really (or don't really want to) face this head on- like the spiders.  And honestly, that didn't work too well anyways. (yep, even a Navajo with a sixth sense can be wrong sometimes)

As long as I am comparing my real fear of death to my irrational fear of spiders - I should add that my fear is not so much of spiders themselves.  It is the fear of how sneaky they are!  It is the element of surprise.  It is the moment I catch one running across the floor out of the corner of my eye, or see one climbing the wall right as I sit down on a toilet, or the fear that one will try to attack me when I open the lid to a Pringles can where it has been held captive for hours in anticipation of this moment. (yep, also the missionaries in Madagascar)  I guess the fear is that spiders are unpredictable.  I am actually somewhat OK with spiders "in the wild"... if I have a shoe handy, or if I can step on it easily.... Not if they are sprawled in a giant 10 foot canopy of web, filled with hundreds of spiders the size of the palm of my hand hanging over my head when I come out of an outhouse.  (yep, that too happened on my mission, and even though I had just come out of an outhouse- I think I may have peed my pants) Is there a connection between these fears?  Is my real fear that I might not be ready?  Or that I might not get to say good bye?  That I might be caught off guard?  And let's face it- anyone dying before they are 75 is being "caught off guard" to me.  Or is it the actual loss.  The fear that the rest of this life would be too long without them?  Or that I would be insufficient without them?

The concept of death has been heavy on my mind all month as I have watched (from a safe distance on facebook) the battle my friend and her husband have fought with Cancer.  I have felt every range of emotion that I am sure do not even compare to what she has experienced.  Anger.  Hurt. Sorrow.  Helplessness.  Confusion.  Fear.  I have asked all of those questions:  How can this happen?  And to someone so young?  To someone so good?  He doesn't deserve this.  It isn't fair.

But who does deserve this?  All of us, I guess.  According to another friend who was relating to me her own experience with a husband dying of cancer last year: Every one is born at different times, and everyone dies at different times.  It's true.  Everyone dies.  Why shouldn't it be his time? Everyone has to die.   But it shouldn't be his!  He has a family.  A young wife and child.  It just isn't fair.  It is not suppose to surprise us when we are young, like a spider in a tin can.  It is suppose to come to us when we are old, and tired in our saggy bodies, and ready for heaven and peace. 

As my heart keeps breaking for my friend, fear comes in and whispers that I could be next.  And why not? If it has to come to everyone?  And this is where I have to think of Yoda and Anakin and how he did go to the Darkside. (Can you tell that that movie had a big scary impact on me, because I related to Anakin not wanting to lose Padme? and now I am afraid I may actually become Darth Vader?? )  And really, what I am realizing is that fear is just poison.  It is just something toxic that creeps in and festers and becomes irrational and uncontrollable.  It prevents us from moving forward.  It keeps me huddled in the outhouse afraid to look up.  It keeps those stinky socks mildewing and burning with athletes foot. It keeps me from sleeping.  It could stop me from living and enjoying what I do have. 

When I was an EFY counselor there was a Theme Song one summer that said "Fear is a lie".  Because of how corny it sounds; this became a funny catch phrase for the counselors to throw around all summer.  But it has stayed close to me through the years- as corny as it is - because I do believe it, fear is a lie.

So this post is me- taking off the stinky socks, verbalizing my fears, giving light to things that haunt me at night.  This is me, believing the Savior who taught his disciples "Perfect love casteth out fear".  I am not going to look for a spider to climb my arm, or pounce from a canopy web, I am going to find a way to let love cast out my fears.  Love for the present.  Love for the people in my life, and those who are near me, but on the other side.  Love for a Heavenly Father (that does not jinx) who has a perfect plan, with a loving Savior whose job is to redeem me.  Love for Easter and the knowledge of the Resurrection and the possibility to be reunited with loved ones again.  Love for life.  Whatever it may bring. 

"Cast not away therefore your confidence...we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." Heb 10: 35, 39

I will not let fear make me draw back.  Perfect love will cast out my fears.


  1. I so SO identify with this. My biggest fear is that I will unexpectedly lose someone I love. And, like you, I fear that just saying that will mean that the Lord will provide me with the opportunity to overcome that fear. It takes a lot of faith and courage to overcome those fears--to just keep moving forward one day at a time and let go of the scary possibilities.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I needed it :)