… perfect loves drives out fear… — 1 John 4:18
Last summer, as I brushed away leaves and sticks from the coreopsis patch, it slithered past. You know what I mean by “it”, right?
Here’s the deal: I’m so frightened by certain scaly creatures, that it takes a certain amount of courage just to type the word.
There, I did it. Phew.
Anyhow, last spring, the surprise encounter turned me into a prisoner. For the rest of the summer, I rarely entered the flower patch. From the dining room window, I watched as weeds slowly overtook my landscaping.
Fear is a powerful thing. Look what creeps in when we’re chained by it.
One afternoon, as I observed new weeds under the river birch, my daughter Lydia enlightened me: If I saw snakes more regularly, she told me, I’d become less and less afraid of them.
I think she’s right. As a child, I saw snakes almost daily. I found them in the lilly-of-the-valley by the chicken shed, by my mother’s tomato plants, out by the evergreen patch where we’d bury our pets. These typical, garden-variety snakes from my childhood were nothing to fear.
Yet one unexpected encounter in my adulthood has taken me captive.
That’s the sort of fear I’ve been facing these last 12 days, ever since I collided with another vehicle on Highway 75. It has been difficult for me to return to the roads following my car accident. It’s been nearly two weeks, and I don’t know which is tighter: the fear gripping me, or my hands gripping the steering wheel.
But I’ve done it. I’ve gotten in my rental car over and over again, driving kids to preschool, going to Grandma’s, the doctor’s office, the grocery store. And at least two times a week, I drive past the site of the accident on my way to teach class here at the Dordt campus.
I made it safely past the accident site again, about an hour ago. And here I sit, at a campus computer, with my crutches propped on the desk. I’m safe. I’m healing.
I think it will take time. As Lydia said last summer, the more I face my fears, the less I will be held captive by them.
It will take time.
Time will loosen the grip on the steering wheel, loosen the grip of fear on my heart.