Running with my golden retriever two years ago became increasingly dangerous every Monday morning…Her literal terror of garbage cans and lids near the road or sidewalk resulted in spontaneous airborne leaps and jerks that sometimes left me stumbling, or at worst, falling. Given that we live in a neighborhood, there were a lot of garbage cans.
I loved her, she needed the exercise, but it was becoming hazardous to my health to run with her – sort of the opposite of what should be, right?
You can almost tell these things by looking at her. My daughter’s dog, a German Shepherd puppy, is calm and cool at 3 months. My Golden? She’s looking at a squirrel and two seconds away from coming unhitched to chase it. Funny how the photo seems to communicate those things.
At any rate, one day, instead of launching into the run, we launched into the garbage cans. We walked over to about six cans and their lids on the ground. She promptly dug her feet into the ground and refused to budge. I didn’t loosen the tension she had created on the lead, but rather stood and waited for her to tire of it.
For ten minutes I waited.
I’m sure I looked ridiculous, standing there amongst garbage cans with my dog determined to pull away at the end of a tight lead.
I didn’t care.
I knew she needed to overcome her fear, and I also knew that while I could be with her and supportive while she did it, I couldn’t do it for her.
Eventually, she took a step toward me.
And I praised her.
So she took several more steps.
Then she was sitting and standing and doing downs among the cans for me. I worked her and praised her in the middle of the thing that terrified her.
And then we went on a fabulous run.
Hang with me, this will apply to marriage in a minute…
I did the same exercise the next week, and she only hesitated outside the cans and lids.
The point is, she faced her fear and overcame it.
I had the same experience with the horse I lease last week. (I hesitate to call her mine, but in my heart, she is absolutely adored…truth is, I don’t even lease her – she’s on free loan from a very generous friend)
What was amazing to me about the experience with the horse, was that to deal with her fear of a certain area of the arena where the doors were closed and she was feeling trapped (and unsafe because she doesn’t fully trust me yet) we did the opposite – we worked hard until she was breathing hard in the area she wanted to be in by the outdoor gate, and then she got to rest at the back of the arena. We did this a few times, and then her fear was completely gone.
And God reminded me that I spent 15 years teaching people public speaking skills by having them do the very thing that terrified them over and over again – and helping them succeed at it.
And like working with the dog and the horse, different things helped different people.
I love to help people conquer fear. Okay, and horses, dogs, and kids, too.
And He’s helped me conquer my share of it – especially in the area of conflict. It doesn’t scare me like it used to. I don’t avoid it. I’m not perfect at it, but I am much better than before. And unafraid.
I’ve learned not to reward during fear, and to affirm the success, no matter how small it is, so we can build on it for the next thing.
And I know God doesn’t want us to be afraid…
And I’m stuck.
God has me working a ton right now getting Daughters of Sarah ready for taping – and I keep chewing on 1 Peter 3:6, which says, “You will be called her daughters if you do what is right, and do not give way to fear.” We are adding a ton of conflict skill development to the class – and as He would have it, I’m in the middle of these sessions right now. The fear thing keeps becoming “a thing,” and I want to understand it more, especially in how it applies to wives.
I’ve even started a few threads on Facebook about it.
This morning, I asked Him specifically, “What is it that women are afraid of?”
And He immediately responded with, “look” – and in front of me was Sarah Young’s devotion for February 5, which read, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6” and “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Psalm 46:1-2”
In Young’s “Jesus Calling,” today (I hope today’s the 5th! ), in reference to those two verses, she says, “The most persistent choice you face is whether to trust Me or to worry.”
I do have fears, but I’m no longer consumed by them. One of the reasons I ride horses is because jumping and bareback and moving dismounts scare me half to death, and I want to ride and never be afraid, so I go do scary things with horses.
The context of the verse about Sarah above reminds us of a woman whose husband gave her over to other men to save his own skin – twice. He didn’t do what was right and she got stuck with the outcomes of that. And the text doesn’t say whether or not she argued with him, but she didn’t sell him out to the other men. (He lied and had told them she was his sister, not his wife, which was only half true – and because HE was afraid they would kill him and take her because she was so pretty!). She also laughed at God, tried to control outcomes and timing pretty seriously, and was downright mean to someone who could have been a friend to her. And yet she ended up in the Hebrews hall of fame (chapter 11) for having great faith. And 1 Peter 3:1-6 also mentions how she honored her husband, basically praising her character and approach, and encouraging us to be like her.
So my question to you today, is what are YOUR thoughts about all these things? How does “doing what is right” and “not giving way to fear” apply to wives? Have YOU faced a fear in your marriage? When I look at Dare Three in The Respect Dare, that list can cause all sorts of anxiety! (feel free to link up with us if you are blogging about the book)
Honestly, though, what do YOU see as sources of fear for wives? What do YOU think is the source of these things?Has He helped you overcome a fear? Please help others learn from your experience by sharing here!
Might I also humbly dare you to subscribe to the blog and walk this journey with us?
And you should totally follow Leah if you are a young wife with little people, and Debbie if you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. Like us on Facebook so you can know when Daughters of Sarah becomes available in video format this year, or schedule one of our weekend retreats. 2014 is nearly full, but 2015 might be an option. I’m also active on Twitter as @NinaRoesner. Come join the discussions! You can follow via the Twitter link in the sidebar to the right.
At any rate, I’m so glad we’re all in this together, on the journey at the same time. Iron sharpening iron…
Comment, share… let’s change the world together.
Love to you,