May 17, 2015

Facing My Fears In The Wilderness

We all have fears to one extreme or another.  Most of us tend to avoid the things we're afraid of and that's exactly what I've done for many years. Honestly, I didn't actually choose to face one of my biggest fears this week, but I knew it had to happen some time.

Since contracting Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections I've been afraid.  Everyone who knows me knows that I'm terribly afraid of going into the woods.  I'm afraid of going to people's homes which are surrounded by woods, who live on farms or even areas where deer may roam which by the way is practically everyone I know.

I find myself holding my breath when driving through shady, wooded areas.  I don't do it on purpose, it's just how my fear sometimes manifests. My heart rate starts increasing and I begin to have a mini panic attack.


Ok, so I'm not actually in the wilderness but I sure feel like it.  

Saturday, our family had the wonderful privilege and blessing of graduating our 2nd daughter from Homeschool High School.  We borrowed a friend's beautiful retreat house in West Virginia so that we could have ample space for her celebration and enjoy a nice family vacation after the event was over.

Rewind to two days ago as I drove the mini-van full of kids, luggage, decorations and food to the River House.  We've been here before years ago but as I drove closer I realized I was holding my breath.  Trees were everywhere and you couldn't see the sky because of the lush green leaves above.

In my head I was yelling at myself, "What were you thinking???", "Why did you choose to bring your children to this tick infested place?".  Now I don't actually know it's a tick infested place I'm just assuming it is because there are trees everywhere.

My daughter, who has faced plenty of her own fears and anxieties during her illness with Lyme noticed my mini "inside only" panic attack, only it must've started showing.  She told me to breath and that it was fine, we were going to be fine.

What could I do now?  We had already sent out the invitations, we were almost to the house and whether I liked it or not we were doing this.  So, I began breathing and I began praying.  I needed help to focus on what needed to be done and that was to get this party going and to not be afraid of what might happen.

Out the back door of the River House is a lush green area with steep stairs leading down to the Potomac River.  It's just beautiful and oddly enough, the last time we were here I was in a ton of pain and didn't yet know that I had chronic Lyme disease.   I had once enjoyed the outdoors here along with the beautiful sights and sounds of the river, yet now it all terrified me.

After we unloaded the van and unpacked, of course the first thing my 8 year old son wanted to do was to venture down to see the river.  He has lived somewhat of a sheltered life from the outdoors because I became sick when I was pregnant with him and when he was 2 I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme.   I have made it a practice to completely avoid areas where any of us could ever get bit again.

Most people don't know this, but even if you already have Lyme Disease, you could get other infections that you don't already have and you could also get another Lyme infection.  Some doctors believe a secondary infection is even more difficult to treat.

The kids were all excited to go and I was out-voted, so they went down to see the river.  I decided to trust God.  What else could I do?  I made everyone spray down with bug repellent, I made them shower and check for ticks when they came back and I scoured my little guy several times over looking for ticks.  They all had to take their clothes to the laundry room.  The only thing left to do is trust.  Maybe trusting should be the first thing to do.

I'm still afraid but I'm not going to let it ruin our vacation and I'm certainly not going to let fear rule in my heart.  I love watching my little guy learn how to swing on a tire swing and go fishing for the first time.

I want him to love God's beautiful creation while respecting that there are dangers and learning safety rules and how to take precautions.  I don't want to raise a fearful young boy who never goes outside.  There's definitely part of me that thinks maybe gaming and watching movies all day isn't such a bad thing but I know what he'd miss.

I spent much of my childhood outside.  People are surprised when they hear that I played in the woods, swung on a tire swing that landed in the creek, camped up and down the East Coast, cooked dinner in a bon-fire, caught salamanders and crayfish and hiked.

I loved being outside, loved nature and loved showing my older girls all the beauty that can be found outside.  We went to nature centers, parks, lakes and hiking trails.  We picnicked and went on nature walks.

Despite my love of nature, for the past 8 years I've equated the great outdoors with sickness, pain and suffering but this week I'm choosing to face my fears and trust God.  It's not as easy as just saying it.  It's going to be work for me but we will create wonderful memories and we'll be able to put into practice the lessons I've been teaching about how to protect ourselves from tick-borne diseases.

So for now, I'm off for the week.  I'm sitting outside on the deck listening to the beautiful sounds of the birds singing.   I may go on a walk, I may even venture down to the river.  Whatever I decide to do this week, I'm trusting God for His sovereign care over our lives.

Til next time.... be strong in the Lord.


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