James 5:1 (KJV) Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fear Comes With Age

This is something I have made note of over the past decades, in my relationships with the aging. The reason I have bookmarked it in my mind is that I have learned that I am always one generation behind - in experience and in understanding. I recognize that what I see in the generation ahead of me is what I will need to deal with when I get there. I don't dwell on it, but I certainly make note of it.

I think I can say that one feature my life has been characterized by has been fearlessness. I have always plunged into life from the deep end of the pool, and swam like the devil wherever I came up for breath. I once had a friend tell me I was the bravest person she had ever met; I had no clue what she was talking about. I thought maybe she had confused bravery with foolishness, but I was relatively young at the time.

I suppose had I been in politics or the Mafia, I would have been 'the fixer.' I have always fixed everything for everyone in my life. To a certain extent, that is the role of a wife and mother, but I think I took it beyond that. If I wanted something - or wanted something done - it happened. If I perceived that my child or stepchildren needed something I provided it. (And if I perceived that they didn't need something, I saw to it that it wasn't going to happen.) If my husband wanted something I saw to it that he got it, even if it took time. If my parents needed or wanted something they got it. In a strange way, with all of these people, their wish became my command. I wanted them to be happy. And somehow I assumed that responsibility.

Looking back, I see that I did assume the responsibility for their happiness to a degree. I've often wondered if it is in some way linked to my only brother's tragic death at the hand of a drunk driver over 45 years ago. Did I feel I had to make it up to my parents for their loss? I was all that was left?! Perhaps. But, then again, I was always such a conscientious child, even before that. I never really felt like a failure at anything until he was gone. It gets too complicated here, so I won't pursue that. Let's just say that, like many of us, I always tried to control things so that others were happy.

I remember noticing little fears that my parents had as they got older because, prior to that, I had believed they were invincible! As they got seriously older I noticed the things that were fearsome, and they eventually encompassed almost everything in life. It wasn't that they talked about it so much as it was that I paid extremely close attention - knowing, as I said before, that whatever path they were walking was a path I, too, would go down.

The reason I bring it up at all is that I have seen the first glimmer of that fear. The first faint shudder came at the thought of ever moving. That thought was so overwhelming that I spent the next two years getting rid of things (remember, too, that my parents had lived with us for a number of years). There are still many things to get rid of, but now I am in the phase of not being able to make up my mind what I can live without. So many things carry memories. I've been in this phase for at least a couple of years. I have begun to solve this dilemma by boxing things up and labeling thing, as if I am moving. Hey, it works for me! I may end up putting it in storage, even.

As I clumsily dealt with that first shudder of fear, the next wave came. That was the fear of not being able to keep up our property. We have a huge lot. I began to picture us as characters in a Dickens novel, two old people huddled in a shabby house with filthy windows, on a lot overtaken with weeds, cracked cement, etc. (Remember that I am a writer... everything in my mind's eye is dramatic.)

Then as I began to have severe allergies I had trouble getting my breath at times. The thought crossed my mind that, living out in the country, I might not be near enough to help in the event of a medical emergency. I didn't dwell on that one.

With the financial downturn in this country came higher taxes, bigger bills, shrinking retirement funds, and the question of future finances. I wondered if we should think about scaling back, moving to a smaller place ... and that brought me right back around to my first fear: that of moving. Just as an exercise, I saw myself in my 80s, and projected all of these concerns forward in time. It was overwhelming. I could barely handle it right now, how much less in 15-20 years? I could see I'd better get cracking on some of these issues.

And, more than anything on earth, I don't want to be a burden to my son. I would do anything on earth to avoid that. I'm sure the thought has never entered his mind. I don't want it to. Yes, I took care of my parents and wouldn't trade the privilege for anything in this world. But, that was me.

And even more than being a burden to my son, I don't want to ever be without my partner, my husband, my best friend. Immature as I know it to be, that's the one thing about heaven that I can't get my head around, that apparently there is no marriage. (But can we keep the one we have?)

Knowing as I do that I am only on the brink of the fears that come with age, I want every day and every hour to count for my Lord. Uppermost in my mind every day is my accountability before Him. Today is the day I have. This is the day I do not want to miss any opportunity to glorify His name.

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
I talk to the Lord all the time. I am learning to go boldly before Him. He is not only my Lord; He has said He is our brother, our friend. He giveth more grace. Indeed.

"Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed," he said. "Peace! Be strong now; be strong." When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, "Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength."
Daniel 10:19.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9.

And this is the one I'm counting on:

"...while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ..." Titus 2:13

Royal Heir