Can it be different this time?: WHEN FAMILIAR FEAR FLOODS IN
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”- Heraclitus
There’s this spot, in the hallway just outside of our kids’ bathroom, where we sit to apply medication to our daughter’s skin. It is where I learn to measure out the exact amount that I hope will provide relief and eventual healing. It is also where I hear her screams and try to still her body as she attempts to pull herself away from me – from the pain. Where I spend countless hours sitting. Striving. Hoping. This “spot” is a bitter spot, for me. And, if I’m honest – I hate it, here.
Today, I find myself in that wonted spot, again. I feel the anxiety rise in me as I remember the long nights and her writhing pain. Being back in this spot reminds me of how difficult it was. Even, horrible, for a time. But after 2 years of daily struggle, the disease finally relented, and we had reprieve. And for 18 months each day was better than the last. But now, sitting once again in this spot, I am afraid.
What if this is just the beginning?
What if it is worse this time?
This spot is just outside of our children’s bedrooms, in what is essentially, the very heart of our home. It is no wonder to me, now, how things got all-over bad. Like the disease that started first in her elbows and knees but eventually spread to cover her entire body – our grief and frustration spread, too. There was no peace in our halls. Very little laughter filled these rooms. I feel this begin to creep up again as the disease takes another shot at our family – through her, our precious daughter.
I don’t think I can do this again.
I cannot get her through this, again.
My biggest fear, in all of this, is that things will be like they were. I yelled more than I ever thought I would. I was angry. I was distant. I was bitter. I shut-out God because I blamed him for her suffering. For withholding healing. For not making me stronger. But then, He brought me back and I once again beheld the immutable peace, hope, and joy that is present when I, abide with and lean-in to, my God. Though, that moment of rescue was not quite 2 years before this, it seems everything has changed. And still, I fear maybe nothing has.
I’m already yelling more.
I’ve already started slinking back – reluctant to reach out to my God in prayer.
But then, those words: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” (Heraclitus) I hear them as though my God is speaking them directly to my heart. You are not the same person. You have walked a hard road, but you have been changed by it.
I need to believe this is true.
I need to believe that though it feels like we are in the same place, doing the same thing – it can be different, this time.
And, I wonder if maybe you need to know this, too. Maybe you find yourself in those familiar waters, too. Overcome with fear, on the verge of despair over what you are once again facing. And I wonder if you need this reminder, like I do. Because, though the sleepless nights, the cries of pain, and tears of frustration may all return – it is different now and more importantly, we are different now.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:2-3a)