Saturday, May 18, 2013

I will not be afraid.

So, I’m sure this will come as a total surprise (seriously, HOW have they not come up with a "sarcasm" font yet?), but I’ve been stressed. We’re not just talking have-a-lot-to-do-overwhelmed stress. We’re talking full blown oh-my-goodness-this-is-WAY-more-than-I-can-handle-I-am-literally-on-the-edge-of-the-cliff-just-waiting-for-you-to-unwittingly-say-the-wrong-thing-so-I-can-blame-you-for-everything-that’s-wrong-with-my-life stress. I’m sure it’s not coincidental that it started right around the time we got Bodie’s surgery date. As my best friend Val said “Amy, your anxiety is palpable.” And that’s from South Carolina, peeps. From clear across the country, she could see my SOS signals. You can imagine how fun it has been for the 3 lovelies who get stuck living under the same roof as me.

I haven’t handled my anxiety well.  To put it mildly. I went through about a week of just drifting, for lack of a better word. You know those, Cymbalta, I think they are (or maybe Paxil?), commercials where they say “Depression makes everything hard. You don’t feel like yourself anymore. You don’t enjoy your regular activities. Getting out of bed is hard. Depression hurts” (or something to that effect)? I would stare at the tv with my mouth hanging open, thinking “OH MY GOSH – THAT IS ME!!!” I’ve never dealt with depression, so it was definitely a weird feeling. 

And then my stress morphed into good old fashioned freaking out anxiety, which I am MUCH more familiar with, so that felt better because at least I was used to it. But it was still pretty bad. It was about the moment I found myself standing in my front doorway, sobbing and saying things no good Christian woman should ever be saying because I had dropped my fruit smoothie and the lid had popped off, spilling it all over my front entryway (somehow it did feel like the end of the world, I promise), that I realized I needed to get things under control.

I know peace from this kind of crippling anxiety can only come from ONE PLACE. A peace that truly surpasses all understanding. So I started focusing on the Word. And praying. All the time. I mean, in the shower, in the car, while I was making dinner, before I went to bed. And my prayers went something like “ok, God. This isn’t working. PLEASE take this from me. Let me turn this over to you. Otherwise, I won’t make it to July…without Paxil…or a lobotomy…or maybe both.”

And, like He always does, He answered. Luckily for me (and my poor family), He responded quickly.

First, my dear friend and fellow Christian heart mama, Christie, asked for my address and told me she was sending Bodie something. That “something” was a mix CD (I’ll let that ruminate for a minute – I did my share of mix tapes in the 80s and 90s – I didn’t even know you could do mix CD’s! Very cool!) of children’s worship songs. The kids and I eagerly put it in…and we didn’t recognize a single song. Here’s why that’s weird – those of us in the Evangelical Christian / nondenominational community are kind of cultish – we all sing the same praise songs. So to hear not just one, but an entire CD of praise songs that you’ve never heard before, is kind of unheard of.

At first, I wasn’t too excited, because I couldn’t sing along to the songs. But at the kids’ request, we kept listening. And within a few days, I found myself singing along to one song in particular – “I will not be afraid.” And the chorus started ruminating through my soul, lighting the dark spaces, filling me with comfort.

“I will not be afraid
I will not be afraid of the darkness
I will not be afraid
I am resting in You.

You are my Father, I’m your child
Here in Your arms I lie
Your angels are watching over me
Singing a lullaby”

(For the entire awesome song (by Phil Joel), click here.)

I realized that Bodie's upcoming Fontan was MY darkness, the scary place that robs me of peace, that keeps me awake at night, lying in fear. But I don’t need to be afraid because God is with me. He is my father and I am His child. What an incredible visual to think of him holding me and the angels singing lullabies around me! What glorious peace to know He has gone before me and comforts me.

I so love this song and will often just play it on repeat in the car on my way to work after having dropped the kids off at school/preschool. It's one that I want in my head, in my heart, in my soul, to remind me in my darker hours NOT to be afraid.

And then about a week later, I was working with Sierra on her AWANA Bible verses and we came across this verse.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid...for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

I mean, seriously? OBVIOUSLY, Sierra’s sudden urge to do all of her AWANA verses at once and finish her book (as opposed to not caring at all, which was pretty much her approach this entire year) had nothing to do with her as much as it did about ME needing to hear this verse (which is at the end of the book), about ME needing to be reminded to be courageous, that God will be with me. Freaking awesome.

And then, thanks to God settling my heart so that I could think clearly, I came to a few realizations. Things that may be helpful to other families facing uncertainties.

1.     CHD has robbed our family of so much. Because of CHD I wasn’t able to breastfeed my son, I wasn’t able to hold him until he was 4 days old (and even then, only for a moment), his sister wasn’t able to experience the joy of having a newborn sibling in the home, our son has scars all over his sweet chest…The list goes on and on of what CHD has robbed us of. We had no say over that.  But THIS, this ability to wallow in the fear of what is to come, THIS I DO have control over. I can make the choice to let it control us, to force us into fear. Or I can choose to live freely, to enjoy the time I do have with my son. I can choose to NOT let CHD take ONE SINGLE THING MORE from my family. And so I will.

2.     The freaking scary as all get out truth is that we DON’T know what will happen this summer. For all we know, these may be our last moments with our son. We’re hopeful that won’t be the case, but we just don’t know. And if that is the case, the LAST thing we want is to know his last few months were spent in our mess of anxiety. We want to know our son ENJOYED his life and lived every minute of it – and that we lived it with him. And so we will.

So where does this leave me now? At peace. Honest to God, simple, happy, PEACE. Freedom to enjoy where we’re at now. And to let God worry about the future (like, you know, the fact that Bodie's cath was rescheduled to June 18th due to a sinus infection). Because, really, that is what life is all about. Casting aside our worries. Leaning on Him. Looking to Him. And knowing that He alone is the answer to all, the fulfillment of all. 




  1. Joshua 1:9 is what we named Joshua after and what I have clung to through the crippling anxiety.

    Amy, I can honestly say that God has healed me from the anxiety. It wasn't until I realized that the spirit of fear that I was living in was not from God. God never intended Joshua's life to make me afraid. Once I realized that the fear was a lie that Satan was trying to distract me with, it made it so incredibly easy to surrender it to Jesus and let him have it.

    That's not to say that I don't struggle with anxiety any more. That could be the furthest thing from the truth. Every morning, if Lukey sleeps in a little later than he normally does, my mind tries to convince me that he's dead. There is no other logical explanation for him sleeping in later (not that he's tired or anything!!!) There will be days that I hear sirens outside and immediately think that they are headed towards Caleb's school because surely his school had been bombed or caught fire or he fell off the monkey bars at recess and broke his neck. There would be NO other reason for sirens to go whizzing by.

    But when those moments come, I remind myself that God did not give us a spirit of fear. I have clung to 2 Timothy 1:7 more than I would like to admit- "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

    I'm praying that you continue to turn to him. Anxiety and fear is a constant battle, but God is gracious and good and will carry that burden for you because it's not yours to bear.

    I know you have a pretty good support group, but if you ever need someone to talk to, I'm always here. I feel like I have been through some terrible anxiety, but have allowed God to conquer it- and if I can help you reach that place, I would love to walk along side you.

    We are continuing to pray for you! <3


  2. {{{HUG}}} Holding you so close in prayer right now my friend. I know this surgical anticipation thing can be the death of our sanity. I have so been there many times and know I will find myself there again many more times. You are so right that we have to turn that fear over to God and allow Him to carry us through it.

    Hold fast to your faith Amy and allow His words to wash over you on those days when that fear wants to rob you of your happiness.

  3. Amy, you obviously know where to go for the words you need. It is obvious also, that God's hand is guiding you, that he knows what you need, and is providing it. I will put you on the prayer list at church. Just keep saying those verses. Love, Aunt Joanne

  4. Friend...I love you very much. I love your honesty, your fears, your hope and your heart. I also love the same God as you do. And I am going to be praying with (and sometimes for.....because let's be honest...sometimes we just can't pray for ourselves. it's too big. i get that in a totally different area of my life) you. Just for grins, you must know I sold Cymbalta. A ZILLION dollars worth of the stuff. I am also currently on it. Seems i struggle wiht anxiety too. And i cuss like a sailor most days while on an adoption list. and Jesus still loves me. and he loves you too when you cuss your face off. :) Anyway, you nailed the commercial, babe, nice work. i can assure you that as a former drug pusher, depression actually is physical. so is anxiety. antidepressants should be sprinkled into the water, into our diet cokes and also on top of our salads. i mean, this is good stuff. :) take if if you need it. sounds like you may?!!!! i'm no dr, you are married to one...praying praying praying...

  5. Thank you for your transparency, Amy. I so appreciate and I know it allows so many others to feel what they need to feel to then move toward healing. Joshua 1:9 is our family's verse! I cling to it often when my mind starts spinning about Luke and his Fontan. Isn't it crazy you can feel so connected to someone you've never met?! I am praying for you ... for continued PEACE.

  6. I so needed to read this. Thank you, friend. Big, big hugs and prayers.

    And PS, I LOVED the Fontan Buddies post and was going to comment on it but my phone wouldn't let me. I just wanted you to know that I loved it and appreciated it so much!!