I used to be afraid of the dark. I would imagine bugs crawling up the sides of my bed in hordes and covering me with their tiny, barbuled feet. I imagined dark silhouettes in the doorway, mask covering their faces or charcoal smeared across their eyes. I would imagine hungry, red-eyed creatures slinking through the windowsill and cornering me in my lofty perch.
I had a bunk bed. Being on the top bunk was my first precaution against these terrors. The second was my blanket. My blanket just make the monsters disappear. I would squeeze my eyes shut and lie still with the covers wrapped snuggly around my small body until it got too hot to breathe. As my last precaution, I would pray, because if all else failed, God would take away the monsters and I could finally sleep. Only when my heart stopped pounding would I poke my eyes out from under the blankets and scan the doorway. I would lay still and let the darkness seep into my mind, so that when I opened my eyes again, I had night vision. Then I could see that there were no monsters. There never were.
I have so many fears.
I’m afraid of spiders.
I’m afraid of fire.
I’m afraid of bad things happening outside my little bubble of life.
I’m afraid of bad things entering my bubble.
I’m afraid of strangers.
I’m afraid of being wrong.
I’m afraid of people not wanting to be my friend, and the wrong words tumbling out of my mouth, and broken hearts and broken feelings.
I’m afraid of feeling hollow and alone.
I’m afraid of being forgotten.
I’m so afraid.
The other night, I finally realized something. I’ve come to realize that when you face your fears, usually there is nothing to fear. When you face them with a courageous heart, you’ve already won.
I wonder how many battles I’ve won so far. It makes me tired to think that I will have to fight so many more before I’m through, and I wonder just how long I’ll be able to stand it before breaking. If I were to describe myself, I would say I feel like a broken vase patched up with too much duck tape. There is much more duck tape in my future.
I wrote a poem about fear once. I don’t want to share it with you, but there is a part where I wrote that “I will overcome fear if it be God’s will.” I think that’s what He wants to me to do. But He wants me to do it while holding His hand. I don’t think I would let go of it even if I could stand by myself.
I’m still afraid of the dark. Sometimes the monsters appear in my doorway at night. I still pray, but now it’s my first precaution. I still hide beneath my covers until my heart stops racing, but I don’t stay there until it gets too hot. I don’t hide in my old lofty perch. I’m brave enough to know they won’t get me this time because God won’t let them. I count to ten and stick my head out. Night vision comes faster. There are no monsters there. There never were.