Dear Fear, You Are a Mouse

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I walked into the bedroom and I knew you were there. I could feel you lurking, waiting to pounce on little hearts. To enter whenever we would give you an opening. So I taught the kids at a very young age to say this: God has not given me a spirit of fear . . . I taught them the whole verse and I insisted they say it.

I wanted them to hear that they have Power and Love and sound little minds.

I told them how you only intend to make their world small. I could see how you wanted them to have restless sleep. Be afraid of the dark. Be afraid of signing up for the audition. Be afraid to try new things.

Time and again, you tried.  But we kept standing, saying, We have a spirit of Power, we have a Spirit of Love, we have sound minds.

It’s like you want to set fire to the outskirts of our dreams. You’re not allowed in, so you will protect and posture, so we become intimidated and stay out. You want us to stay away from what is good and beautiful and courageous.

I felt you when I walked the streets of the poorest neighbourhood in our city. Thank God for the moment I realized, Oh, this is YOU intimidating me. So we would stay away . . . So we would let the poor and the prostituted and the drug addicted find their own way.

I felt you like the smoke from dragon’s nostrils, hanging thick over those streets.

I saw you for who you are: a mouse masquerading as a bear.

Once I could see your tactics and your true size, I remembered my only and most beautiful defense: Love.

Fear guards the gates.

Love is the gate.

Fear sets up by the doorways and stairwells, it lurks by the windows to another Way. Love invites us in.

You set yourself up as a mighty lion, a raging fire, a dark night . . . you pull out all the stops. You want to distract me from the dream and the Destiny right on the other side of that door. You often come in with the night and wash through the air, sweeping into a little girl’s heart, capturing her soul and locking her into your grip.

On that carpet, on that night. I still remember how I froze.

Fear guards the gates.

I see you, Fear. You are intimidating and I catch myself, even as I write, then I feel my chest tightening. You try and intimidate me right out of these words.

There is no breakthrough without facing you. Without walking past you and through you.

I faced you once in an apartment by myself. I was so new in the faith and that night we wrestled and I was about to give up . . . I was so tired of fighting. I was so tired of fighting the fear that sat on me and wouldn’t let me go. Until I remembered in the middle of that night in Taipei, that I don’t have to do this alone. We don’t have to, because you don’t get to make the rules.

As it dawned on me that I could ask for help, I wondered who would talk to me at 3am in the middle of the night. Who could I call?

And then I knew.

Ouma.

This woman had prayed by the side of her bed every night. This woman who knelt by her bed and lifted us up . . .  I had heard my name prayed night after night. I had heard her sighs, her groans, her aches, her joys . . . she carried us to Jesus every night.

She would be awake! She was on the other side of the world and it was daytime in South Africa.

I trembled as I dialed the number. I hadn’t spoken to her in months. Her only granddaughter was on the other side of the world and phone calls were expensive. But I picked up the phone that night and dialed. I knew her number off by heart. She answered right away and we were connected—me in my small room in Taipei, high above the city—and her in her small room in the Strand with a peekaboo view of the ocean and geraniums in the window.

In that one moment, the world was all small and connected.

I couldn’t explain too much. How could I explain that I was battling with Fear? How could I tell her how desperately I wanted to walk through this door into Freedom?

So, I simply asked: Ouma, would you pray for me?

She didn’t hesitate.

Her words lifted my young heart and my tired spirit.

I breathed in the years of her faithfulness.

I sat under the tree of her faith.

I ate from the years in which she had stored of God’s goodness and power and love.

Her prayer was short and it was everything I needed to hear.

Mostly, I needed to be carried to the throne by someone who loved me. Someone who cared about me.

She didn’t even know. But that night she fought for me.

She carried me to the throne of Peace and out of the clutches of fear.

We hung up the phone and peace had flooded my room. My heart was light and I praised the God of the Universe. The God of small bedrooms with big glass windows in Taipei and the God of small bedrooms with geraniums in the window box in the Strand.

That was the last time I ever spoke to her. A few months later Ouma passed away.

I have memories of playing cards with Ouma and how she always brought me a small package of salami from her butcher. I have her same thick ankles.

But of all the years of memories, what is most profound, is how she was there that night when I needed her. We’ll always have that phone call.

By Grace, I remembered I didn’t have to face Fear alone.

I reached out. I called on Love.  I remembered: Love.

Idelette McVicker

Idelette McVicker

I was born and raised in South Africa during Apartheid. That story has forever shaped my life and how I experience the world. I’ve lived on three continents and I like to imagine myself now as a global citizen. Sixteen years ago, I married a cheeky Canadian and moved to Vancouver. We have three children (11, 10 and 8) and SheLovesmagazine.com is my fourth baby.
I bake bread, wear mostly black and love fun shoes. I am a charismatic contemplative and my happy place is both around a big noisy table and alone by the ocean. I love Jesus, justice, and living juicy.
This Chinese proverb shakes me in my soul: When sleeping women wake, mountains move.
Idelette McVicker

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  • Oh so beautiful, Idelette! I can feel the peace her prayer brought. I am reminded of the need for connection, the power we have over the darkness. Mostly I want to be the kind of person that a loved one would call in the middle of the night for a prayer, to be known for that kind of faith. Thank you for sharing your Ouma’s inspiring faith with us…

    • Thank you so much, Nicole! It’s been so many years and I can still feel that Peace … What a Gift that was. I will always be grateful to the Spirit of God who nudged me to make that phone call.

  • To have faith-filled friends holding our hands when we’re afraid is such a gift. This reminded me of those people in my own life–thank you for helping me start my day with a grateful heart!

    • Absolutely. So grateful we don’t have to do it alone … Sometimes I need reminding … ! 🙂

      Thank you for reading, Amelia!

  • Terri

    “I sat under the tree of her faith.” One of the most beautiful images I have ever read and one I will hold close. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Terri … Thank you for reading!

  • And now the tree of faith is taking root right in your very own home, and your little ones will sit under the tree of YOUR faith and be blessed — so blessed.

    • What a wonderful encouragement … I truly hope so! Thank you, Michele!

  • “I faced you once in an apartment by myself. I was so new in the faith and that night we wrestled and I was about to give up . . . I was so tired of fighting.” I have been there, on the floor or in the corner of my bed, paralyzed and mute. I have faced so much fear in my life so I wouldn’t be controlled by my memories and trauma, transformed my entire lifestyle and identity so I wouldn’t live from a place of fear but live from hope and love and power instead. I’m still limping from whoever/whatever it was I wrestled with. And still wrestle with. I’m constantly challenged by the choice of fear or faith, usually at night when it’s dark and everyone else is asleep and I’m alone and it feels like there is a war going on around me for my heart and mind. I know God is there, in that space, but the shadows eclipse him sometimes. I need these constant reminders. Thank you.

    • O, Tammy … !

      O, friend … I hear you.

      I wish for you a living breathing person, a someone, who can meet you in those dark nights. Just like my Ouma met me.

      Big hug,
      xoxo

  • Bev Murrill

    Oh gosh, I had tears in my eyes when you talked about Ouma praying. I often hear from people about how their family prayed for them all the time and I can’t imagine how that must be, although I do it for my own family now and I believe that it makes a difference.

    BUT, I LOVE this post of fear. I love that you never allow fear to overrule you and your determinations. You are a woman of great courage and that is why I love you.

  • Idelette, beautiful! Fear, I know you and I let you come along with me through my earlier life, hoping to keep safe. Then one day I realized that you, Fear, can be erased from the blackboard of my mind, and in your place, HOPE!. I want to say that your essay has some of the beautiful features of art from the Apartheid times, which were fought until peace could take the throne.

  • Angela M. Shupe

    Such a beautiful piece, Idelette! I LOVE this image…”I sat under the tree of her faith.” So beautiful and moving. Your Ouma sounds like a wonderful woman!

  • Meg

    Yes! I read so much of my own struggles with my firstborn here. There is so much to be said about sharing reality, sharing our struggles, and helping each other carry the burden. Motherhood has been so different than I thought it would be. I do think was more depressed after my firstborn than I realized. It was so tough, and I felt like such a failure for not being able to breastfeed her. Thank you for sharing!