Writing is a Journey, not a Destination

Writing is a Journey, not a Destination

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fear As Sin

"Fear is a sin." I've heard this a number of times. Jesus tells us not to fear, the Bible tells us 365 times not to fear; therefore being afraid is a sin. I read it in an article yesterday. I'm thinking I've heard it from some big name evangelists I otherwise tend to agree with.

I've thought about it a lot. I was dangerously close to developing a medication-requiring storm phobia a few years ago, so I had to think about it. If fear is a sin, and any hint of severe weather sent me into freak out mode, was I adding insult to injury?  How could I ask God for help with my fear if I was sinning against Him by feeling fear in the first place?

Fear is an emotion. Emotions, by definition, are out of our conscious control. They are physical reactions to circumstances. Fear involves a perception of danger followed by an adrenaline rush. Depending on the severity of perception and the duration of adrenal stimulation, "simple" fear can become panic attacks or PTSD. Are those sins? Should I feel guilty every time a tornado warning siren blares and frightens me?

I agree that I know I have no reason to fear. God is bigger than any problem I will ever face. However, I have this earth suit that responds to perceived threats with adrenaline, shortness of breath, increased heart rate. I will experience fear at some point, just as I experience anger, grief, and happiness. I believe the sin part comes with the action that follows the emotion.

I cannot stop an adrenaline surge. I can choose what to do with it. I can choose to take the 10 seconds to breathe deeply, to pray and give my fear to God. I can focus on the cause of my fear or the cause of my salvation. That's where the risk of sin lies: in the action.

"Worry" is another issue. I agree that worrying is a sin, because worrying is a controllable action. I choose to worry when I dwell on what frightens me instead of who delivers me. I am a champion worrier, but I am retraining my brain to focus on God instead of worry. I thank Him instead for all the ways He cares for me. Sometimes I have to start very small and silly to grease the wheels of gratitude, but that's OK. I'm learning, and the psalms tell me God not only knows my every thought, He's OK with me telling Him about them.

Fear feeds itself. The more I fear being afraid, the more afraid I become. "Fear is the mind-killer." Better to face my fear, let it wash over and past me, and know that I remain securely inside God's plan. Fear grows less, and love grows more.

Sin or not, God is the only remedy. Turn to Him.

Keep the faith.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Doing Nothing on Vacation

I took vacation time this week. As far as I can remember, this is the first time I've taken a whole week at once. I got a few surprised looks from coworkers when I announced my intentions. Normally, I take a Friday or a Thursday-Friday if the weather is supposed to be especially nice. Why so short? 1) I like working, and 2) too much time off leaves too much time for someone else to mess up my job while I'm gone.

Mom suggested a week would let us goof off like we did when I was in college. But Mom wasn't taking her plantar faciatis into account, and she's been laid up and sleeping while her foot heals. That's cool. I'm self-entertaining. But I can't lie down for more than a few hours at a time anymore without my back screaming bloody murder (as the last two nights attest), so that option is out for me.

I don't have the money to do all the things I could be doing this week, like replacing window sills, replenishing my delicates drawer, or purchasing shoe inserts to help with growing hip/ knee pain, so I have to prioritize.

I have The Swamp to keep me busy, but that only works for so long (because it's hard, exhausting physical labor) and depends on the weather. Yesterday's weather turned out to be rather mild considering the hype, so I'll be out there soon. Days are shortening as I type, and I don't have the lights to work in the dark.

I have a van to fix, too. Can't find a service shop willing to help, so I've turned to Google once again. I finally have a day that won't roast me like a dog in the backseat while I work on the trunk latch. Haven't been able to open the back in two months, and what good is a minivan with a back gate that won't open? Of course, the obvious answer is a minivan with a back gate that won't stay closed, which is another reason I haven't tried to fix it myself. Ah, well. Nothing ventured...

I have a vent fan in the bathroom that likely needs a screw installed at the outside exhaust end, but that requires not only a cool day but a willingness to remove everything from my closet, climb into the attic with or without a multi-cat escort, and wade through blown insulation over ceiling joists to install that one screw. If only I'd done it the first time I was up there. One of my big life regrets.

The sun is finally cresting. That cold front brought 50 degree temps, so today the mosquitoes will have to work around layers for their blood. They're Swamp mosquitoes. I'm sure they're up for the challenge.

I find I'm looking forward to returning to work. This doing nothing on vacation is just too hard for a Turtle.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Still Not a Feminist

I've refused to identify as a feminist, even when Mark Ruffalo called me names.

A Friend posted an article about a normal (as in not overly political or activist-ish) dad who reared feminist daughters by encouraging them to follow their dreams, ignore stereotypes and be independent. OK. That could be my dad. Maybe by that definition, I'm a feminist.

Another Friend on another post pointed out that there are more flavors of feminism than we see on the news (most of which I call "femiNazis" because that's the kind of bias I have) and posted a quiz/survey she endorsed as helping fill out those flavors. I respect this Friend, so I clicked on the quiz just to see what kind of feminist I might be. And lost interest within seconds.

The last question I remember was along the lines of are animals rights a feminist issue. *insert blank stare* Animal rights? Some people think that female animals are more oppressed/abused/neglected than male animals? Or do they mean women do/should care more about animal rights than men? I don't remember the other questions, but they were equally ridiculous to me, and I returned to Farmville.

Which leads to my conclusion that I simply have no lens in my worldview arsenal that highlights "women's issues." I don't look at any given scenario and think "that woman is being oppressed." I do often think "wow, she made some bad choices," or "that is an abusive situation," but that's as far as my feminism goes. I don't believe woman are oppressed more because they're women. I believe everyone has it bad because of sin. Women may experience the consequences differently than men, but I don't find that offensive.

I do find it offensive when "women" are lumped in with "diversity," as in a business is required to have a "diverse" workforce with "minorities," including "women." I'm not able to land and maintain a job on my own merits? I'm hired as a concession to social engineering?

Maybe that's my blind spot regarding feminism. Maybe I couldn't possibly have gotten a job before the whole "equal rights" thing because a man wouldn't give it to me. Seems reality changed that perspective in World War I (or II, I really can't remember when the Rosie the Riveter era happened - probably because I'm not a feminist), making necessity the mother of equal rights, not feminism.

Frankly, I'm tired of the subject. Unless some new evidence comes to light, I consider this matter closed. I am not a feminist. Bully to those who are. Glad you've found your cause.

Applaud the jellyfish.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Finish What You Start

I'm sure I've said this before, but experience is teaching me how true it is.

Finish what you start writing.

It doesn't matter if it's a lousy first draft with terrible characterization and a sappy ending. What's important is that it's equally lousy throughout.

If you don't finish, then you get a hunchback of Notre Dame kind of monster where parts are extremely overworked and polished, and parts are spindly and lousy, and parts are just missing, and who wants to attach garbage to fine jewelry? It's paralyzing.

Nope. Better to puke the whole mess out at the start and work on cleanup later when you can stand to look at it again.

That's not really the best analogy, since most people don't make sculpture out of vomit, but it's the best I can do this morning.

Finish what you start.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Launching

A tiny garden spider took up residence in my bathroom several weeks ago. No idea where she came from. One morning, she was there in the corner, sitting in her invisible web. It was cold outside, and she had caught two ants, so I let her be.

She later caught another spider. She was earning her keep, and staying close to her web, so I let her be.

In the last week or so, she has caught nothing. The ants aren't coming inside anymore. I worried about her. A spider has to eat to live and spin webs. The longer she went without food, the less likely she became to be able to do anything about it. I should move her outside.

But she's a house spider. She doesn't know The Big World. She isn't prepared for temperature extremes or thunderstorms or birds or bigger spiders.

What spider is prepared? Spiders know only what God programmed them to know: survival. They do what they can because it's all they have.

This morning, I caught her (very carefully, because a spider can get trapped in her own web) and took her out to the compost pile, where I hope ants are plentiful enough even for a starving arachnid, and there is some shelter from rain until she gets established. I hope she does well. I hope she grows and meets a mate and has a sack full of baby spiders. I have no way of knowing, but I choose to hope, even though my heart says I waited too long and her best hope is to be eaten quickly.

I wish I didn't care so much about spiders and wasps and flies and earthworms and crows and - well, you get the idea. I wish I didn't believe from my heart that all life comes from God and is therefore precious and deserving of respect and kindness. I wish I was OK with nature's cruelty, and didn't believe it is only a result of The Curse that Adam and Eve and every human since brought down on creation.

If wishes were fishes, we'd all eat steak.

God's blessing, little spider. By His grace, we'll meet again, and you can tell me your adventures in The Big World.