Gospel Meetings, Casualty & the struggle to Walk Unafraid

“… Walk Unafraid, I’ll be Clumsy instead…”

walk unafraid2

I started a blog once before, maybe 7 years ago. It was called Clumsy Instead, in reference to one of my favourite REM songs (not an original thing to do!). I told 2 and a half people about it, wrote a few posts, over-thought the few posts, died of embarrassment over the few posts, that nobody was reading, and deleted the whole thing. I wanted to be clumsy instead, but blogging felt too clumsy, and I wasn’t there yet.

When I started to think in September that maybe I might maybe write something, I went searching for that old WordPress account.  My name was still there, Clumsy Instead, there were tags to a post about this and a post about that… I WANTED TO READ THEM… but the posts, and the blog name, were irreversibly deleted. I had decided that no-one should read them, ever, and that was that. I had had my chance to be Clumsy and the blog name was gone and could not be resurrected, now that I was ready to try again.

So anyway, I just picked another name.

But fear is a recurring struggle… a spiral staircase…. familiar territory for most of us, in whatever shape or form it effects us, down here. And so we come back to old favourite songs, we re-read books, we re-learn faith and heart lessons, we hear something new and it reminds us of something old and true.

I think these days of Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (‘Vulnerability TED’) as my Walk Unafraid, Be Clumsy Instead book. I realise how the courage to be vulnerable effects everything from awkward blogging to embracing adventure to having children whose health and happiness and next breath is not guaranteed.

One of my friends recently asked me why I am, like her, a mother who fears her sleeping baby must be dead, and imagines her curious toddler falling out the window. She says her mum was always freaking out, so she guesses that’s where she gets it from. But why am I like that, she wants to know? My mum is calm and SANE. Where did I get it from?

Aside from the reason of being human, I think I panic due to a combination of genes, gospel meetings and Casualty. My nana was a major Worrier and my mum is a worrier too, she’s just good at not freaking out. But also, I went to a lot of gospel meetings growing up and they have ingrained in me the possibility of imminent death for any of us. I have shaken the ticket-to-heaven, moment-of-conversion, fear-of-eternal-damnation thing from my own understanding of the Gospel and faith, but I have never been able to shake the conviction that I, or someone I love, could walk out the door and be hit by a bus.

And then too many episodes of Casualty on Saturday nights in the ’90s have given me a store of visuals to go with my fears .You know, the pre-stories to the accident where people are  doing something either really ORDINARY or really HAPPY and then tragedy strikes. I catch myself in life imagining in a certain moment that it’s a pre-story, expecting the worst is about to happen. I can just see us in the park, or driving the coast road, or being tucked in … I can see us ON CASUALTY, or CSI or Criminal Minds. (I have definitely watched too many of these shows to be good for anyone…).

And, as always, the little things effect me even more. The biggest challenges to walking Unafraid come from the every day.

A few years ago I did some Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in the hope that I could be less of an anxious case when driving, and anticipating driving. I remember the therapist’s Eureka moment, when she clearly felt she had unlocked the key, to me. It was when we realised: I’m afraid of crashing, yes of course, but mostly, I’m just afraid of stalling. 

And I think this IS they key to me, in many ways. I’m afraid  in life of stalling, of getting stuck, of not doing it right, of it going wrong, of having to try again.

But all the voices worth listening to say: be clumsy, instead. All the people I most admire are like this.

And so I say yes, then battle the nerves. I start a blog, and delete a blog, and start a blog again. I re-start the engine. I ask for help. I try again.

I switch off Criminal Minds. I read those lines I underlined in that book. I pray. I read a blog that’s good for me.  I listen online to a speaker that feeds my soul. I play that REM CD.

I’ll trip, fall, pick myself up and
Walk unafraid
I’ll be clumsy instead
Hold my love or leave me high.

What do you do?

(some of these thoughts were triggered by recent posts/comments from Espero and Transfarmer)

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12 thoughts on “Gospel Meetings, Casualty & the struggle to Walk Unafraid

  1. Reading this has made me suspicious that you have a spi inside my head. I’ve never met you in real life but if you ever delete this blog I’ll find a way to hunt you down! (*consideres copying and pasting all current posts just incase…) Just yesterday I was talking about how I need to learn to let go of my baby boy. I live with the sickening fear that as soon as I leave him for a day away with friends or a night out with my husband something terrible will happen to me or to him and one of us will be left devastated by loss. Until your post it never occurred to me that the constant ‘you need to be saved for you never know when you’ll die’ upbringing may have contributed. Life experiences have also contributed but either way I hate that fear engulfs me. I think for me I sort of have to trust that even if my worst fear comes true itl still be OK… Not in the everyone who gets sick will get better way but the even if they did die GOd would help me to grieve or vice versa, I do not say this lightly. Like as our friend jayber says “even the end of the world is not the end of the world”. There’s a hope in that that helps me to risk loving and letting the people I love go – enough so they can live. Thank you for this post. I’m off to think some more on it.

    • yes completely. I was nurtured in “even the end of the world is not the end of the world” at home so I have that truth in me too, and it’s greater than the fear, but it’s all hard. Stitches (by certain author who I am trying not mention in every post) is brilliant about all that ‘trust even if my worst fear comes true’ stuff…

  2. Oh and ps your story about fear of stalling will be perfect in the book you should write;-) it made me lol and say ‘oh how true’ all at the same time. Just the way Anne lammott does!

  3. I think to walk unafraid would transform every single aspect of who we are and what we do. How different would my life look if I actually lived without fear. What friendships would I be enjoying because I got over my shyness and insecurity and pursued someone? Would I be off singing somewhere, or would I have done co-sleeping? (random thoughts, but true) It’s a fascinating and terrifying idea. I’m in the middle of ‘gifts of imperfection’, but I have ‘daring greatly’ on my shelf. I’ll just add it to the enormous pile of books I’m taking away this week!
    P.s how is it possible that two of our favourite people have never actually met??

    • I know, and now we can never meet as I will be too nervous about being a disappointment ha!

      Love the random thoughts… Brene poses the question (instead of ‘What would I do if I knew I wouldn’t fail?”) What’s worth doing EVEN IF I fail? (obviously not co-sleeping…). As you say it’s a fascinating and terrifying idea…

  4. I love that you are blogging again and I love to hear some of your heart from afar! Definitely keep being clumsy….but actually my interpretation of your clumsy is you just being honest and human and that’s one of the things I love most about you!

  5. I also nearly spat my coffee over the computer at the “I’m not scared of dying, I’m scared of stalling” story!

    These are great thoughts. They brought to mind Leonard Cohen’s encouragement to “forget your perfect offering.” Thanks for reminding me of the REM song too.

    • … I have a bad habit of replying to everything in life with the name of an Anne Lamott book … which is what Stitches is… I was just trying not to be so obvious!! I’m presuming Debs wished she had tried co-sleeping with one of her babies… but who knows, may be something dodgier!

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