Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No Friend to Fear

Who is this person?  I don't know, can't think, because I am paralyzed by my own fear.  Fear--a relatively new and shockingly frequent emotion for me these days.  What happened to the girl who valued boldness and excitement?  The one who lived to be matched against a bigger, stronger forward in basketball, or for the soccer games that required constant dives and 1-on-1 confrontations and ended in shoot-outs?  Who could not imagine a better life than one filled with globetrotting, bungee jumping, and sky diving.  Broken bones, mono, lack of money, terrorist activities, and scary mysterious lung illnesses--none of this prevented me from continuing with life or caused me to worry at all.

But now, everything is different.  One touch from the tiny, burning little fists, accompanied by the slightest exhausted and uncomfortable whimper, and I am totally gripped by this alien emotion, fear.  Anxiety makes its complete hostile takeover.  I am out of my depth, out of control, out of ideas.

I had noticed the night before that something was off.  But there was no accompanying fever or other symptoms.  In the morning there was a low-grade fever, but otherwise he was back to his normal self.  Then that afternoon, after babysitting Rachel told me he'd fallen asleep on the couch while listening to music.  What?  It sounds like a whisper to me, because my thoughts are whirling furiously, anxiously seeking to bring order to what is happening, while concern bumps gently against the corners of my mind . For my son to fall asleep in the middle of the day, in the middle of a room, unaided...that is just completely unheard of.  Something is going on here.  When I pick him up his skin feels hot.  He is clingy.  I am grateful it was Rachel that was with him while I was gone.

I do my best to comfort him, nurse him for a few minutes, although he's recently been weaned from daytime feedings.  He is straining towards me physically, mentally, emotionally, needing me to DO something.  Our bodies are fused as one, and I move us to the living room.  His fever feels out of control, so I give him ibuprofen.  Before it hits the back of his throat, its up.  And out, and all over me, the floor, the couch, the dog.  He is vomiting up more than I thought possible for his small body to hold, and he's trying again to bury himself into me, protect himself from these violent convulsions.  I have a moment's clarity to think I'm so glad we don't have carpets and then its coming again and I'm holding both of us over the sink, trying to comfort him as he heaves and whimpers.

It's the whimper that forces a crack in my reserves and allows the fear to come sweeping in.  It is tiny and powerless and barely there.  Since the moment my son burst onto the scene a year and nearly 2 months ago, his vocal prowess was there with him, round, full, and LOUD.  Even as an infant he was short on cutesy gurgles and big on grunts, deep belly laughs, and all out cries that were powerful enough to shatter a few windows.

So, I find us sitting in the tub, fully clothed, my normally aqua-crazed son only mildly interested in the warm stream.  The dog walks in casually, clearly having done her part to clear up the mess on the floor, and my own desire to heave has me wondering if whatever germ is attacking Ezra is in my system as well. This is the state my husband finds us in.  My wonderful husband who lovingly shoulders the burden of care, sharing this moment with me, cleaning and dressing our slightly less feverish son while I wash the sickness from me.

The night does not include much sleep for any of us.  Ezra finds the fever left his lungs unaffected, and having rediscovered his voice is determined that his father and uncle share in his wakefulness in spite of my best efforts.  It is hours of battle, but at some point in the early morning hours, his fever finally breaks, and his sweat-drenched body instantly gives in to a restful sleep in my arms.

I am not so lucky, as my mind is racing and spirit heavy.  I alternately pray and soul-search, feeling guilty any time my focus slips to my own soul, rather than steadily interceding on behalf of the helpless one in my care.  Finally, because my brain insists and will not receive sleep until I give it what it wants, I allow myself to dwell on what is in my mind.  Who is this person?  Fear is not a reaction I enjoy or condone.  But while I have never feared for myself, I cannot seem to shake my terror for this little child that I love so much.  That I love so much.  The voice nudges me.  I try to ignore it, but it persists, louder.  That I love so much.  That I love more than you.  That I created.  That I delight in.  That I have a perfect plan for.  Finally I let it wash over me.  God, who loves Ezra more than even his own mother is able, has a perfect plan for him.  But is it one that I trust?  Intellectually, yes.  But emotionally?  Not because I don't believe God to be good, or that his plan for Ezra is good.  I could never doubt that.  But because I do not want to relinquish the semblance of control I have over this child's life.  Because I fear that God's perfect plan could also include pain or separation for me.  I choose safety and comfort over goodness over and over, every day.  You forget, that steady voice interrupts my thoughts.  I love you as much as I love him.  I delight in you.  I have a plan for you, and it too is good.  Trust me.  

 I find myself relieved at the reminder of this very basic truth.  And I realize that for God to have trusted me with the care of this tiny, finite being, Ezra must not be so fragile as I think.  And at the very end of every day, God is always good.  If I let myself be ruled by apprehension about fevers and falls and every possible evil in this world, I will miss out on all the bounteous goodness this life has to offer.  And, as my mother loves to remind me, if there is any justice in the world one day my son will probably run off to Africa anyway.


Joel said...

I definitely laughed at that last line.

Elise said...

I defintely understand! It's amazing how our enemy uses love as a doorway for fear. When I read " I will carry you" by Angie Smith it took me through a lot of thoughts and brought up fears ( again) and the verse about " if you love your son or daughter more than me you are not worthy of me". Anyway, Angie has now written a book about fear which I absolutely plan on buying! Thanks for writing, it is always good to remember He loves us even more than we love them!