The Power of Fear

THE POWER OF FEAR
All of us experience fear.  In fact, we are born with just 2 fears;
Fear of falling and fear of loud noises. The rest of our fears are learned.
Merriam‑Webster online Dictionary defines fear this way;

1  : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.
2 : anxious concern
3 : profound reverence and awe especially toward God.
4 : reason for alarm: danger.

A healthy fear is one when we perceive danger; you are driving along when a driver  up ahead does something unexpected and you have to take evasive action.  Adrenaline kicks in and instinct takes over as we enter the fight or flight mode.
A healthy Fear of failure turns into determination to succeed. Unhealthy fear can keep even the most bright among us from achieving goals or living a life of happiness and success.
Unhealthy fear can overwhelm, paralyze and cripple a person emotionally and effect them physically as well with such things as anxiety attacks, depression, etc.
I have a friend who is single and middle-aged. Her only dependents are an aging dog and a cat. She lives with a lot of regret and fear, hates her life, feels trapped and stuck. But when given opportunities to change her situation she continually chooses to not step out of her comfort zone. Fear of the unknown and fear of change have control of her.  Being stuck and unhappy has become her identity.

When I was kid, my parents got drawn into an unhealthy religious group that turned even more unhealthy with time. Fear and manipulation were the key tactics to control its members. We taught: we are the only ones with the truth. We are special. God gave us information that no one else has, we are above others.  We, the Chose Few, must sacrifice more.  Once you have the truth, you cannot leave or reject the truth (God). To reject this truth (God) is a death sentence. The devil will attempt stop the truth. Give all you have….or else.

Be afraid, in other words. Live in mortal fear of God.

When fear is ingrained, it takes a lot of will to shake loose from its clutches.  Letting go of the past and reaching for the future is hard. Unlearning lies is hard.

If, as I was, you were raised in an environment where God was portrayed as a mean guy sitting up there on that throne looking down and just waiting  for you to mess up so he can smack you down, that you will never be good enough, etc., a lot of healing needs to take place before fear is replaced with hope and love.   People who are stuck in fear don’t need others to beat up on them.  Trust me, they are already doing that to themselves.  They need healing and freedom from the past and a new hope for the future.  If you want to help them, start with praying for them and showing them unconditional love.  Be the example of what a true loving God looks like. Be that light they need.

The phrases FEAR NOT, DO NOT FEAR or BE NOT AFRAID are used over 110 times in the Bible. God does not want us trembling and fearful, bowed down and whipped.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV / For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Joshua 1:9 ESV / Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Wherever fear is, trust and love will not survive.
Where Trust and Love are present, fear must flee.

 

The Plan

I have written about my husband before.  He makes me smile, laugh and at times, want to throw things at him.  Since our little conversation a week ago, he seems, well, different.

At first he acted relieved, confident, relaxed.  Then, he became more aggravating.  I have had to practice the “don’t take anything personally” guideline double time over the past 2-3 days.

The latest guideline challenge was this morning.  As I was pulling up in front of my shop I receive a call from a dear friend I have not heard from in months. She only calls me when she is on her way to her daughters’ house several hours travel time away. My hubby kept sticking his head out the shop door, clearly showing his aggravation that I was not getting off the phone. I would signal to him the obvious; “I’m on to the phone”.  Finally, Hubby can stand it no longer and strides over purposefully, opens my driver side door and tells me “grab your purse”.  If I’d had my wits about me I might have told him this is really important and I need interruption-free time to talk.  But I didn’t. I complied.

His “plan” apparently,  was to go take care of a bank thing. Surely  I could be on the phone while he drove, killing two birds with one stone.  Ever the practical one, he usually is excellent at projecting and executing a plan.  This was not one of those times.  As I climb in while still trying to carry on an intelligent conversation, paying attention to what Margie is saying, he starts his truck and the Bluetooth connection from my earpiece gets hijacked as his truck Bluetooth takes over.  Margie’s words are now being broadcast simultaneous with hubby’s loud country music over the speakers inside the truck-and the radio on/off won’t shut if off.   I, of course cannot hear a thing she is saying.  After what feels like hours,  the music finally turns off but as I try to talk she can’t hear me because the truck microphone is on the driver’s side. I end up leaning as far as I can toward the speaker and shouting to Margie I will have to talk to you later.

After a few stunned minutes of silence as we are heading toward town, I ask my husband “why couldn’t you trust me?”.  “Why did you think what you wanted to do was more important than what I was doing?”   I knew what he was going to say, and he did: you/we have a business to run, responsibilities, things to do. Priorities, etc.

I am trying to be calm and not blow up at him.  “You have no idea what you interrupted; we were right in the middle of a faith versus works conversation and questions about steps for salvation.  It was a really important conversation!” I said, in barely controlled fury.  We rode in silence the rest of the way to the bank.

While at the bank,  I am doing the best I know how to just let it go, but clearly, I am struggling.  My personality type is one that tends toward holding on to grudges, hurts and misdeeds of others, and I know this about myself.  Truly, I am fighting really trying hard to let it go.

John’s reaction was to be extra loud and cheerful with everyone in the bank-perhaps to compensate for the sullen, angry woman beside him.  When I finally couldn’t help but laugh at something he said, he sighed in relief and quietly said; “I’m glad I can still make you laugh”.  That is code for: “I might have maybe messed up and I’m sorry.  Please love me anyway”.

What I learned;

1  If you do not want  interruptions while talking on the phone in your vehicle, do not park in full view of the people who will.

2  When in reverse,  the radio on-off button is inoperative on late-model GM vehicles with backup cameras, and there is a delay once you are out of reverse before radio buttons once again work.  I cannot imagine why. I have also changed my phone settings so hubby’s truck cannot take over my phone.

3  This is a reminder I am married to a tender warrior.  He may not be able to actually say the words I’m sorry. He shows it in other ways.  He is leading.  Sometimes, when I don’t step up quick enough, he tries herding-which doesn’t go over well, but, it is his warrior self and his true nature to try. And I can live with that.

4   Lighten up. Chill.  Laugh more. Let go of anger fast!  Trust in God’s timing.  It will all work out.

 

 

 

 

Responsibility

Earlier this week, my husband and I rode together to have lunch at his favorite restaurant.  As he was dropping me off afterward and just as I was exiting the vehicle, our conversation took a turn that I did not expect.

Somehow my husband was questioning his value in our marriage, his voice taking on a hint of melancholy when he stated he knew I loved him but questioned  whether I was “in love” with him.

This stopped me dead in my tracks.  I was already out of the vehicle and ready to close the door at this point.   I climbed back into the vehicle, closed the door, turned to face him and gave him 100% of my attention and calmly asked; “what are you saying?”   His reply broke my heart as he said “I just don’t know if we’re headed for divorce or what.”  We had been talking about our businesses, rental properties, changes that might need to be made, and I was stunned by the shift from finances to this. Keeping my focus on him, realizing in this moment, my job was to ask questions and listen.

As I probed, I hear him tell me he is struggling, stressed and close to depression. This man I love was hurting and I had no idea.  As far as I knew our marriage has never been better.  This man, who is the love of my life, how is it that he is questioning my commitment?  How have I failed him?  How could he be in so much pain, telling me he is on the verge of depression  and I had no idea?  This larger than life  vibrant man with his tender servants’ heart, this giver, this man of integrity, who loves me with all of his heart is wondering if I love him with all of mine?

His male logic blamed the change in our relationship on a self-improvement program I attended years ago which affected me deeply.  I remember the fear it struck in him at the time, and he brought it up yet again, that hint of anger in his voice.  The idea that I have outgrown him, don’t really need him,etc.  This time I did not argue or defend but just listened. Then he went on to bring up an incident from five years ago.  We have been over this subject before.  This time, instead of getting defensive, I agreed with him.  Yes I had been disrespectful.   I just agreed, and I watched his face change. That is what he needed to hear.  I was disrespectful.

I would say over the past 5 years he has brought this subject up probably 15 times resulting with the same arguments on both sides.  If I really loved him I would have…..me arguing that it wasn’t about love. It’s about him doing the same irritating thing I have pointed out to him  over and over.  I would not have reached my wit’s end and “the incident” would not have taken place if only he had…..all of which his male brain translated into this notion of not “in love”.

5 years is too long to continue to die on that hill over and over.

I was disrespectful.  That’s all he needed to hear.  It doesn’t mean he was right, but my reaction certainly wasn’t right either.  I am responsible for my actions, not his, so why go pointing out his fault?    I was disrespectful.  It is true. I hurt his heart.  Now, 3 words have healed it. I can live with that.  All day long.  5 years of defending my hill, for what?

I forgot; for men, respect equals love.  All the I love you words, hugs and kisses we share every single day did not make up for one incident in this big man’s heart.

I am 100% responsible for maintaining respect.  No excuses. He had earned it.  No excuses.

 

 

 

2015, year of Radical. 2016, Radical Teachability

When I look back on 2015, the growth and steps forward were huge-for me.  You may laugh and think they are lame.  Whatever.  I am here to say it was a banner year for radical  change, healing, blessings, aha moments,etc. for this woman.  Just so I don’t forget how awesome I did, I’m going to list it all in  2 minutes.  I hope this will inspire you to look back and do the same.  Celebrate the good, learn from the not-so-good and love life.

In 2015 I traveled more, attending  several business opportunity seminars, started a business partnership, ended said relationship and learned that you should never go into business with someone you don’t really like as a person.  Realized I didn’t trust my judgement or intuition, took some steps to remedy that, read more, sought new friendships/ stepped out of my comfort zone repeatedly.  Practiced  reaching out to others for friendship.  Got closer to some people I knew socially, made new friends, gave myself  permission to back away from another when it became clear it was not going to be good match.   Recognized it wasn’t me that was the problem.  Made a  new friend I meet often for lunch, movie,  shopping, etc. a new experience for me.  Developed an inner circle of 2 women I trust to tell me the truth no matter what.  Smiled and laughed more, forgave quicker, took more  risks, practiced trusting myself, said yes to invitations. Let my homebody husband be a homebody and gave myself permission to go do what makes me happy instead of waiting to see if he would change.  Duh.  Ignored the voices that tried to keep me in “not good enough” mode. Spoke lots of words of affirmation.  Developed a deeper relationship with my Lord. Prayed more  thankfully, watched my husband respond in kind, and saw the negativity level drop in our home and lives. Cajoled my hubby into playing the Ungame while eating lunch and now he looks forward to it.  Went to out-of-town family events alone instead of making excuses.  Signed up for a 3 day retreat. Am spending New years Eve and the first few days of 2016 hanging out with a group of women doing a workshop to make us better women. Took my power back from an old hurt, and, I started a blog.

2015, my year of Radical, you rocked.

2016, my year of Radical Teachability, bring it on.

 

 

Radical Teachability

My word for 2015 was Radical.  For 2016 it is Teachability, as in;  I will be open, listen, learn, grow, change, be flexible.  Continuing the  attitude of bring it on and stepping outside that growth-limiting comfort zone.  2016 is going to be a rocking year for teachability, especially since I will be  retaining the 2015 word.  Radical served me well in 2015 and I see no reason to retire it.  If there is some rule out there that says differently, screw that. And I say that in the nicest way possible. No offense, Mr/Ms rule maker.

It was on social media 2013, that the concept of having a “word” for the new year became known to me, so, for 2014 I chose Grace.  I needed that word that year; grace for myself and for others and I just knew when I thought about if for 2 seconds that grace it is.

For 2015, I went to a quiet place, cleared my thoughts and asked the Holy Spirit, please speak the word for my 2015 year. Then, I sat quietly and bam! There is was.  It seemed like an odd word, but who am I to argue.  I went and looked it up.  Merriam Websters Dictionary online says;

    Radical

a:  very different from the usual or traditional :  extreme

    b :  favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions or    Institutions.

I am smiling when I finish reading this.  Take off the institutions part and I am game because this is about me, personal growth.  Institutions; you are on your own for now.

2015 turned out to be a radical year for growth and healing.  Was it smooth?  Smooth and radical do not even belong in the same sentence if radical is going to be, well, radical. If you want smooth, go back to your box and cover your head.  And good luck with that.

In Radical Year 2015, the idea of  “don’t take anything personally” began to make sense and seem like a doable step. The typical me mode heard the words, but I struggled to wrap my brain around the how.  My negative tapes, or gremlins, as Brene Brown calls them, said; pie in the sky, bogus philosophy, unrealistic, wishful thinking.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could just turn my brain off when other people say/do things that hurt?     Prayer and affirmations helped.  A lot.  Saying I forgive them, I forgive myself, please forgive me, God, Holy Spirit please heal my heart.  Helped. A lot. Still, I wanted to know why.

Then, I went to lunch with my niece Lacey and she talked about this book about personalities and how now she gets why she does what she does and understands her daughter better, etc. This book sounded different. And, was it ever. I read it 3 times cover to cover and wondered, how did I not know this?  Seriously. Life.  Changing.  Now I get it.  I understand why my friend walked away from our friendship when we could have talked through the problem. And why her actions broke my heart and I thought it was me that deserved it.  Nope.   Or why certain people talk but don’t listen and I would feel unworthy.  Really?  Or my husband tossing out a careless remark that I would take personally,  but now I know it’s just that he speaks before he thinks.  And I get it!  Yesssss, finally.  Thank you Lord, for answering my prayers for insight. Now I get the “why” of lots of behavior I see and I do and now have a clue what I can do to grow.   Radical healing.  Radical growth.  Don’t take anything personally.  I get it. I can do this.

Epiphany of the year came very recently and I am still processing. It is the reason I am once again writing, after years of silence.  It involves an exercise where one pretends one is sitting or standing right in front of the  person who hurt them and verbally, out loud. yes, out loud, speak  to the person and says whatever one needs to say. Then, you have to shift gears by putting yourself in their place and let them speak. There is something about verbalizing anger, , guilt, hurt and fear that changes its power and, in my case, a traumatic event from 25 years ago, took a complete different tone and it went from me whining, cowering and trying to explain, to; realizing this person knows the truth, was manipulating the situation for personal gain and control, and nothing I say will change them and it no longer matters to me what that person says or thinks.  It was time to get my power back.  Forgive them, move on.  Radical freedom. I’m still reeling from this revelation.  But I have a big smile on my face and a sense of peace.

So, 2016, radical teachability, bring in on.

recommended reading:

The people code by Dr Taylor Hartman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude

On Christmas day, for the first time in recent memory, my 36 year-old son  attended Christmas dinner and celebration with family.  JR has been taking bi-polar and anti-psychotic medications for a few months now, has a care nurse who checks on him a couple of times a week, and he is stable for the first time in many years.    I cannot describe the gratitude I have for that gift of stability in his life.  I pray it remains the new normal and that he continues to progress.

JR is the youngest of 52 children born to Ervil LeBaron.  On this Christmas day, 11 siblings from 6 states were present.  2 other siblings’ children plus 2 great-grandchildren filling the house with laughter, noise, confusion and love.  Most of these LeBaron kids were orphans who had to rely on each other for survival and I feel blessed to have a part in their lives over the past 20 years since the scary fugitive lifestyle ended and the normalizing began. Watching them grow, heal, becoming the fine people that they are and witnessing their excitement at seeing  JR was so sweet. So what that he has been off his rocker for years and is the little brother who was not part of their harrowing life adventures.  He’s one of them. It’s like this secret family code.

Normal is highly over rated.  I have grown very attached to this unusual and very un-normal family.  May God bless them, every one.

 

 

Notoriety. Whats in a name?

Behind the name is a person.  That person did not ask to be in this kind of spotlight.  Yet, here we are, all these years later and when something happens that ends up in the news involving polygamy and Mormon splinter groups, the story often ends up back to me; the unwitting poster child for manipulation, murder and horror.

On one hand, I am thankful no more such awful events have taken place to knock my name off the “go-to list” that reporters use when researching  the subject and the curious get online and research, and bam, there it is; that “story”, twisted and bizarre.  Making “her” the object of curiosity, ridicule, pity, spite, incredulity, etc.  Misunderstood and judged by those who don’t know the real me or the rest of the story.

So, keeping the past in the past is the safe thing to do. I could just let it go and let people think whatever the heck they want to, right?  It’s been working for years, so, why mess with the present?  Things are fine.  Who cares what the world thinks?

That has worked for me for a long time. My heart was so crushed by events I did not foresee that I just shut down.  I did not fight back.  I ran and hid.  It is safer. Ignore the past.  Do what I can with the present.

Very few people in my present life know about my background.  They just know that I am a fine human being.   Caring, giving, compassionate, strong, loving.  They see me.   Not that girl.  They don’t know that girl.  They know me.   She and I are not the same-yet we are-but we’re not.

I  believe that I am loved by an awesome God.  Forgiven and redeemed-although I have struggled to get to that place-I think I am ready to once  again pick up the proverbial pen and paper and do what I love to do; write.

This is my fight song. Take back my life song. Prove I’m alright song…

  • Fight Song – by Rachel Platten
    Like a small boat On the ocean
    Sending big waves into motion
    Like how a single word
    Can make a heart open
    I might only have one match
    But I can make an explosion
    And all those things I didn’t say
    Wrecking balls inside my brain
    I will scream them loud tonight
    Can you hear my voice this time?
    This is my fight song
    Take back my life song
    Prove I’m alright song
    My power’s turned on
    Starting right now I’ll be strong
    I’ll play my fight song
    And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
    ‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me…..

Her/Me

Rena is not the kind of name you can keep if you are trying to hide, or, at least not draw attention to yourself, so I stopped using it years ago.  It is a name I have associated with pain, loss, guilt, shame-a past life I escaped from. But the memories pop up occasionally-although, less painful than they used to be.   Used to be the past would cause a twisting in the pit of my stomach,  my heart would pound loudly in my chest and ears, and a sense of doom and fear would envelope me.  The primal urge to run, to hide so strong I would be frozen in place.   I hated when those feelings came.  Best to avoid any  chances of the past popping up  Changing my name worked well.  Immersing in the present; check.

There are good memories from before things went haywire.  These memories can be triggered by James Taylor singing “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain”or Stevie Wonder songs like “You are the Sunshine of my life”, the smell of home-made bread baking in the oven.  Pungent sunflowers return me to that tall row planted along the fence line on the west side of the yard swaying in the not so gentle sea breeze.   Damp foggy winter mornings will return me to the house in Los Molinos, Baja California, Mexico and the late 1960’s and early 70’s.  Gnats that appeared from nowhere on the rare occasions when the wind wasn’t blowing.  The smell of laundry soap, back when it made suds and laundry day was found me standing at the Maytag wringer washing machine feeding the laundry thru those dangerous rollers and hanging them on the clothesline while the wind blew so much that first batch of  sheets and underwear would be  dry before we finished hanging out the last batch of jeans and darks.

Bittersweet memories that make me smile from early childhood; family, mom, dad, closest-in-age brothers Mark and Duane.  Sitting together at the table lunch and dinner, saying pass the salt.  Duane, with his dry humor, soulful eyes and mechanical abilities, I remember laughing at his frustration when he complained “why do you have to cook the food so hot?”  And Mark, the dreamer, surfer, gifted musician and artist, his thoughts usually far away.  I adored my older brothers.  Mom was strong, loving, creative, positive, would keep the conversation going. Dad;  usually silent, impatient or disconnected around us, yet polite and engaged with others.

Confusing memories of tensions between Church leaders, one of them, my brother-in-law. He would hurt a lot of people but I did not know that until later.
The bad smell memories; Doctor Scholls foot powder and stale coffee breath bring to mind him; the good/bad guy. The one who would show up occasionally.  Mother said he was a prophet, God’s chosen and we were lucky to have him as a family member by marriage.  One day when he was at our home, he looks me over, as if noticing me for the first time and announces I am just the right weight to walk on his back.  He instructs me through the process which seems like hours.  Even when I say I need to leave for school he doesn’t care. Just pay the fine, no big deal, he said.  Finally, he lets me leave and even though I am already horribly late,  I run all the way to school over the bumpy plowed ground, flying past the outhouses beside the yet unfinished church/new school building and on to the 2 room adobe schoolhouse where afternoon English school was well underway.    In my hand I have the centavos coins to pay for being tardy.  This has never happened before and I did not want it to happen to begin with.  I am a rule follower and feel ashamed, and, like all eyes are on me when I enter the open door and go up to the front to make my apologies and try to explain I had no choice but to do what he said for me to do as I pay the late fine to the volunteer sitting off to the right side of the teacher’s desk.   I quickly slide into my seat and begin working on the high school level correspondence course on punctuation.  Ricky, and I are both working on about the same chapters and there is only one set, so as soon as he finishes with a few pages, I take them and do the same lessons he just did.  We self-test, as we are “older” more advanced kids and have already been through all the spelling books that the volunteer staffed English school has available…..

This is the voice of young Rena.  I am comfortable with her.  She was sweet, charming, a ray of sunshine and she was later robbed of that.  The older young Rena who, along with her family, got caught in the mess and dragged into the fray,  I struggle with.  I know; Rena was pulled into a situation not of her making and not of her choosing that there was no way out of and live to tell.  Yet, even though I know she had no choice, that is small comfort.  The pain in my chest, the pounding in my ears and the tears streaming down my face as I write this tell me that even though that was another lifetime ago, I had not moved past all the grief.  It is still palpable, real and present.  A part of me says do not stir up this hornets’ nest, while small doubter voices whisper; “you got what you deserve, you are not worthy” and I find myself agreeing.  Stop!  This battle has already been fought.  I do not want to continue to fight it.  I have been redeemed, saved, set free. Do not fear.  Remember?  That is the real hard part; remembering to trust; myself, God, my instincts, follow my heart and do not fear. Do NOT fear.

This is your fight song, take back your life song, prove I’m alright song …….  I hear two women I trust: Anna, saying; “you have an amazing story to tell!  Tell it”  and Brenda;  “Your family story is powerful….there is your legacy”.

Okay.  Baby steps. Deep breath.