The only thing to fear ...

The strangest thing ever just happened - I just put Clayton to bed. Normally I'm the one that cashes out around midnight or so and Clayton is the one who sits in the living room watching his DVR'd shows that I would refuse to watch had I still been awake (Pro wrestling? I. don't. think. so.).  However, tonight he fell asleep on the couch at 10:30 and after I woke him up and suggested he go watch TV in bed, he completely passed out under the covers. I just checked on him, turned off the bedroom TV, switched on the fan, and kissed him goodnight.

In order for his company to save money, they asked all of the employees to take turns working late hours in lieu of paying someone to work night shifts.  Clay's works 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but on Wednesdays and Fridays he stays until 9.  That makes for two 12 hours shifts a week. And on top of that, he helped out a friend and took over their shift tonight ... three 12 hour shifts in a row.  No wonder he's so sleepy.  He works incredibly hard for us, and I feel selfish that I'm upset he went to bed. I feel like I haven't spent any quality time with him in several days.

But now this means I get to catch up on all my recorded episodes of Real Housewives of Orange County and other Bravo shows to my heart's content!

But before I get into that, I wanted to talk about something that's been on my mind. A Friday or two ago we had our first big thunderstorm of the spring.  Being so close to the weekend paired with the excitement of the storm left my office literally buzzing with energy . I don't know what it is about severe weather, but people tend to get overly hyper and giggly when it's stormy outside. "Omg, you guys! We could totally get wiped out by a tornado.  Isn't that HILARIOUS!?" But, regardless, I'm still a newbie in the office so I was pretty jazzed to be around extra chatty co-workers. A woman who I'd met once, but never had a real conversation with, walked by my office that afternoon. In passing she asked, "So, do you get scared during thunderstorms?"

Laughing, I responded, "I love thunderstorms ... unless I'm home alone at night. I used to sleep with my parents every time I saw lightning."

"Oh, me too!" she said. "Even as an adult, every single time it started to storm I would freak out and literally hide under my bed until it was over. I was that scared. Can you imagine? An adult hiding under her bed!"

Actually, I can imagine that. In fact, I'm going to remember that next time it storms and I'm alone. I'd totally be lying if I said I've never considered sitting in the closet with a blanket over my head ...

Thankful for her stopping to talk to me, I started to turn back to my computer and continue working. But she stood next to my chair, thoughtful for a moment.

"You know, it's kinda funny, too," she said. "My husband left me for a younger woman."

Wait. What? That's NOT funny by any stretch of the imagination and what on earth does that have to do with inclement weather? I swung back and looked at her. "I'm so sorry," I said, offering my perfunctory sympathy. "That's horrible." Just the mere thought of Clayton leaving me instantly tied my stomach into knots.

"One day, a few months after he left, I was sitting outside on the front porch of my house. While I was sitting there, a nasty storm formed in the sky and it started lightning, thundering, and pouring down rain. Several minutes later, I realized I was still sitting there. 'What are you doing?' I asked myself. 'Shouldn't you be under your bed hiding?'"

Enraptured, I leaned in to hear the rest.

She continued, "Then a thought came to me: My husband left me. The absolute scariest thing I could ever imagine happening to me actually happened. What else was there to be afraid of?"

I honestly didn't know what to say.  I think I mumbled something like "Wow", but I was speechless. I just shook my head in amazement at her. I felt like she dropped a little golden nugget of wisdom directly into my lap.

I've thought about that story every single day since.

While I was out running yesterday, doing quarter mile hill repeats with Mandy, my co-worker's story kept replaying through my head, loud enough to block out of my music (which is no easy feat because when I rock out, I rock out loud). It got me thinking, what am I most afraid of? What do I imagine being the absolute scariest thing that could happened to me?

Failure? Not feeling good enough? Being left behind?

While all of those things scare me to the point where I've lost sleep and made myself physically ill, I know that they all pale in comparison to the one that could knock me to my knees and leave me breathless:

Losing love. Losing Clayton's love.

It's not easy picturing our greatest fears or considering what it would be like to wake up and find our nightmares realized, but it is very sobering. It makes you strive to be better and to do everything in your power to protect and preserve what is most precious to you, what you hold dearest in your heart. While so much in life is completely out of our control, we are always in control of ourselves. The best piece of advice my mother ever gave me was this: We can't control the world around us. We can't control people and what they say, what they do, or how they treat us. The only thing we can control is how we respond to what goes on around us.

I'm scared of everything. I'd never use the word "courageous" to describe myself.  I am so fearful of bad things happening to me, that I usually forget to stop and enjoy the good stuff that is happening. I don't want to live in fear of the unknown anymore. I can't control it. And it's exhausting trying. A fruitless labor if there ever was one.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon


  1. My greatest fear as well. Love reading your blog. A good reminder for myself at times. So thankful you are blessed by the love of a great man!


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