A good friend recently faced a life crisis that has now been resolved in an unexpected way. She asked me yesterday, “Would it be a bad thing for me to say that I could get comfortable? That things are good?”
I pointed that she is so accustomed to living with fear of the future that she has forgotten how to accept and receive the blessings right in front of her. In all my wisdom for others but not myself, I didn’t even see that I’ve been doing the same thing.
I didn’t plant any flowers this year.
Due to multiple circumstances, I’ve spent the last several months worried that we were going to lose our house and have to move.
Every time I would see bright annuals somewhere, I would think, Oh, I should put some flowers in. And then I would think, Oh, I can’t. There’s no sense spending money on something we won’t get to enjoy in another month or two.
What I was really thinking, deep where I was afraid to admit it, was, I can’t bear to do anything that will give me more appreciation for where I am. If I dig my hands into the soil, I’ve planted a piece of myself along with each flower. And if we have to move, it will be harder because I’ll be leaving pieces of myself. I won’t be whole anymore. I’m afraid
So other than my reliable daylilies and the now-faded lilacs and peonies, we’ve had no color in our yard this summer—all because I was afraid.
Yesterday we were able to put some things into place that should allow us to stay in our home. So today, I wandered into our backyard so my heart could reclaim the space and soak in the sunshine.
I was struck by the lack of color. Why didn’t I plant flowers? Even if we had to move today, I could have enjoyed some marigolds and petunias for a couple months. And now I am halfway through summer, wondering if there’s any place I can still buy flowers.
I allowed myself to be ruled by my fear of what might happen. Instead of investing a piece of myself and adding visual pleasure to our yard, I withheld the color and pleasure.
I had let fear of a possibility interfere with real and present joy.
As I walked back into the house, a bit sobered by the realization of yet another way I have let my feelings drive my life, I realized that fear had been a major factor in my sexual refusing and gate-keeping.
When my spirit is agitated, I turn to Psalms and Ecclesiastes—so after I came into the house, I opened my Bible to Ecclesiastes and read; chapter 11 spoke loudly to me today.
I thought about the things I don’t do because of anxiety and anticipation. I thought about the joy and pleasure I have often denied myself because I was planning for the dark days rather than enjoying what I had.
For so many years, I was afraid in my marriage.
I was afraid to trust. What if my husband were to prove untrustworthy?
I was afraid to lose control. If I lost control of myself, who would pull me back together again?
I was afraid of intimacy. If I allowed my husband to truly see me, what if he decided that he didn’t really love or accept me after all?
I was afraid of loving. If I sent out my substance, casting my bread on the waters, and that love were not returned, how would my heart survive?
I kept a careful leash on our sex life for fear of what might come to pass. I was watching the wind and looking at the clouds and not even seeing the sweet light of the sun or the pleasure that color can bring.
What If . . . ?
I hear from many women of their own fears of things large and small. What if . . . I don’t get enough sleep, he doesn’t respond with the tenderness I need today, the kids need me, my fat jiggles, it’s uncomfortable, I’m not enough for him, I gag, he’s only say I’m beautiful because he’s being polite, it doesn’t draw us closer, I start to depend on him, or I lose my sense of who I am?
We fear the worst case scenario. We fear who we will become if we let go. We fear that we won’t be loved as we want to be. We fear that our husbands have not truly repented of a past sin against us. We fear that if we fully unleash our sexual selves, our husbands will lose the ability to see our hearts and will see only our sexuality.
We live with fear of the future and have forgotten to accept and receive the blessings right in front of us.
Do you allow yourself to plant flowers in your marriage, or do you withhold pleasure out of fear?
So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body . . . Ecclesiastes 11:10a