I’m playing catch-up! Here’s where you can catch up on what I’ve been doing…
“Is your summer going as you planned?” a friend asked in the dimming summer twilight, overlooking the Kennebec River from our mutual friends’ lawn as we prepared to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.
“Yes!” I said. “I’m gardening, working on some writing for children and my husband just put up a hammock.”
All of which is true. But while I have taken a vacation from writing this column for the past eight weeks, I have also been wrestling with an unexpected onslaught of fear and – dare I say it? – anxiety. It came out of nowhere one week before the May release of my memoir. Seemingly overnight, months of planning and mounting excitement to share our family’s adoption story turned into panic as the day of our community book release party neared.
Only half joking, I asked a trusted friend if I blacked-out at the reading, would she splash my face with water and waft lavender under my nose. The night of the big event, she showed up with Relax, All-Natural Lavender Spray made right here in Maine by Grampa’s Garden. Believe me, I’ve used it! But while researchers have confirmed that lavender does indeed produce a calming, soothing, sedative effect when its scent is inhaled, the most effective defense I’ve found against fear is prayer.
“We are not fighting against humans,” the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12 (CEV). “We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.”
The accompanying verses describe God’s armor: truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God. The same way our nation’s troops wouldn’t march into combat without body armor, Paul admonishes us not to march into spiritual battle unprotected. After we’ve donned such spiritual armor, the apostle states that we should then pray.
How do I do this? By beginning my day with Bible reading, ideally followed by a walk during which I offer up my concerns to God. Whether the battle we are in is emotional, mental, physical, financial, or some other challenge, prayer is an opportunity to trust God and ask for his help. More than a calming, soothing, sedative effect, prayer acknowledges my need for God. In return, he sustains me with his strength, wisdom, peace, love and truth in the midst of life’s battles.
Trouble solved? Fear gone? Not exactly.
There are many physical and emotional causes of fear and anxiety, and it is important to reach out and get all the support and help you need. But we aren’t just human beings. We are also spiritual beings. Each day I invite God into the battle I am facing, I know that I don’t have to face it alone.
Meadow Rue Merrill is the author of Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores. She writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine.