Fly with the Phoenix

Fear is not a four-letter word

There are two places in St. Louis (my home) I really hate to visit. One is a particular hospital. The other is the county courthouse. I avoid the hospital because it’s where my father died, and where my mother was hospitalized during her fight with cancer. The courthouse is painful for me because I endured two divorces and a bitter child custody lawsuit at this place. So when my summons for jury duty came in the mail, you can imagine my reaction.

Sure enough, as if on cue, while driving to the courthouse this morning, thoughts of my most recent divorce (three months ago) came back to my mind. I could almost hear the judge bang her gavel on the bench, sounding the death knell for my marriage.  I have a real contempt for this place, and I was ready for a pretty crappy day there.

Then, I met a smiling face, a fellow juror, with whom I visited most of the day. We shared stories of our careers, families and lives. She invited me to her church for Bible study. At lunch, I enjoyed some of the beautiful afternoon while walking to the restaurant, and then sat outside to chat with another woman about her e-book reader. What I learned may help me make a decision about that technology.

The Point: Every one of us has to face something we’d rather not face or go to places–physical or transcendental–we’d much rather avoid. For me today, it was visiting the St. Louis County courthouse. Six months ago, it was facing the unpleasant reality that my marriage was dead and I now had to learn to live alone. Nearly three years ago, it was watching my daughter walk out of my home.

But guess what? I’m discovering that living alone isn’t a bad thing, and my daughter and I are healing from the past. I’m learning how to extend myself into my community and break the comforting circle of the familiar. None of this would have happened had I not faced something I feared.

American journalist and writer, Fulton Oursler, said Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves–regret for the past and fear of the future.” If you don’t think you can face something unpleasant or even frightening, you may be surprised to learn how your life can be improved by doing just that. There is strength inside you given by your Creator. Our trials often force us to harness that strength, which enable us to free ourselves from being stuck.

What is in your life that you’re avoiding? An addiction? Forgiving an enemy? Healing a broken heart so you can reinvent yourself? What does facing this unpleasant or painful thing feel/look like in your mind? What action are you willing to take to overcome this roadblock in your life? Finally, what does freedom from this burden look/feel/sound like to you?

I invite you to think or journal about this and see what you come up with. Leave your comments and let’s start a conversation. Remember, we have nothing to fear!




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