By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It’s that time of year, when for some ludicrous reason we seem to think that scaring ourselves and each other is a good idea. There are retreads of splatter flicks, people try to make the hideous into hilarious, and I am always glad when it’s over. I never have been a fan of horror flicks, even before I was a believer. And I can remember scaring the bazotts out of myself when I was babysitting as a teenager in a literal mansion that actually had an elevator and things that began to groan and creak. I scared myself, quite frankly because I didn’t know how to bring my thoughts under control. I have no words to convey how glad I was to have the family come home!
That was over 50 years ago, and ever since, I have faced down a number of fears. I have endured some things that have been genuinely scary, things like working at a restaurant, getting ready to close, and having a co-worker stick a knife in my belly and tell me that if I didn’t deny Christ, he would kill me. I have been broken down on the side of the highway in a freak snowstorm in May with my tender-aged daughter and had to stay there all night. After I was divorced, I dated a truly dangerous guy, and of course, beat myself up for making excuses for his behavior. Steve and I lived at an orphanage in Juarez, Mexico, in an area that was controlled by the cartel. I was home alone one night with a 14-month-old girl and the cartel tried to bash in the side of the house while Steve was still on the El Paso side. More recently, I spent three years in Iraq, and looked into the eyes of prisoners that it seemed were utterly void of humanity. That sent a chill down to the soles of my feet. I am only talking about these “spooky situations” for two reasons. One is that it is always good to remember the “goodness of God in the land of the living.” Clearly, I have been keeping my angels busy! The other is that lately I became aware of my deepest fear, and it had nothing to do with scary folks or circumstances.
I was on my way to a Christian women’s retreat in Indiana, and had lots of time to think and pray before I arrived to do what I had been asked to do, and that was to help other women face some of their deepest fears, or to coin a phrase, their “fondest fear.” Before you recoil about the prospect of having a fear about which you are actually fond, perhaps you can think of it this way: your fondest fear is the one that keeps you in your own self-made prison, and inspires you to make non-stop excuses for staying there.
What was mine? Believe it or not, success. I was terrified of it. I became aware that I was more afraid of being successful than being vilified or rejected by family and/or friends, being a victim of a crime, being tortured, or having a horrible disease that would ultimately take my life. Why was I so afraid of it? Because long ago I bought into the idea that I could not be successful and make eternity my home. Now, to be sure, most fond fears have a measure of truth, something that is a cautionary tale. Success can indeed be dangerous. That being said, the prospect of not allowing love, perfect love to cast out all fear is more so. I invite you to join me in facing down your fondest fear, not by yourself, of course, and let’s “go up and see what the Lord will do!”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner