As I stood by the kitchen window on a cold and dreary March morning, I glanced at the darkened horizon. Was today really the day I vowed to show the world (or just the backyard squirrels) that I wasn’t afraid?
For some reason I thought of Sylvester Stallone, the boxer in the legendary Rocky movies. Surely, if a man could guzzle raw eggs in his pajamas…
I could (gulp) eat spinach in mine…for breakfast.
But why was I trembling when I opened the fridge? I’m a grown woman. I’ve given birth four times. I’ve shopped at Walmart at noon on Saturday. I’ve even stuck rocks up my nose (I was four. I know…kids do weird things.) So what was so scary about a few green leaves?
The little girl in me asked, “what if they taste slimy?”
I think we can all agree slimy is scary.
Okay, deep breath, Joy.
I grabbed the spinach bag like it was on fire and threw it next to the other ingredients. But the moment I actually opened the bag, I thought I would have a seizure. I was suddenly thankful my kids were grown and gone and couldn’t see the writhing mass that was their mother. “I can’t do this. I can’t do this! I CAN’T DO THIS!!!!”
But thankfully, my vintage Mom brain conjured up just the right image: The Little Engine That Could. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…
I finally settled back down.
“Just ‘man up,’ Joy!”
That never works for me.
Okay, “woman up!”
That always works for me!
I dumped chocolate, nuts, syrup, blueberries, more chocolate, strawberries, even more chocolate and exactly five teeny-tiny spinach leaves into a cup that held milk and oatmeal.
Phew, mission accomplished!
But the leaves suddenly floated to the top! Oh no! What if…I could actually see them and taste them in my smoothie? A horror movie played through my mind. There I was, running for the ladies room with slimy green things, spurting out my mouth. They’re alive!!!!
“Stop it, Joy, stop! It’s just breakfast!”
This was getting ridiculous.
I thought of Rocky again with egg whites dripping down his face, and then before I could change my mind, I screwed the blade to the cup, inverted the cup and shoved the thing down.
The blender roared to life, obliterating all contents into helpless smithereens. I vowed to keep my hand in place until 1.) The power went off or 2.) I achieved complete annihilation of all smoothie ingredients.
After my hand had gone into spasms from pressing down so long, I felt confident I had achieved goal #2.
I unscrewed the blade with upmost care. The moment had arrived.
I shut my eyes. Should I plug my nose too? “Nay, lass, nay. Be brave. Be brave.” A Scottish voice from a Disney movie whispered in my head as my puppy Hallie darted into the kitchen with her favorite tennis ball.
“I can’t play ball right now, Hallie. I’m too busy being brave.”
Bark! Bark! (Translation: “Well, hurry up!”)
“Okay, here goes nothing.”
As I brought the cup to my lips, I envisioned a meadow exploding with wildflowers, the sun shining, birds chirping, a gentle breeze blowing… glug, glug, glug… the sky was a clear blue…glug, glug…
A mere ten seconds later, a miracle happened! The cup was empty! I was dumbfounded, relieved…and a bit smug. “Take that, spinach leaves!”
Time for a victory lap around the kitchen! Hallie joined me with great euphoria.
Of course, some of our fears in life seem downright silly, but others, not so much. As I write this, COVID-19, the coronavirus, is rapidly spreading throughout the world. New infections appear daily; some people have died. We are seeing bare grocery store shelves, people in masks, travel restrictions, schools and businesses closing…Truly, it is scary.
But what are we supposed to do (besides neurotic hand washing, social distancing, sneezing/coughing into our sleeve/tissue, etc., which we are all doing religiously now, right?) We surely can’t just stick our fear in a blender and camouflage it with lots of sweet and distracting things, pretending it’s not even there.
Fear can be a big deal. Fear can be a thief and a liar. It can rob us of peace and productivity. It can leave us paralyzed. It can sow seeds of hopelessness.
I have three anti-fear recommendations that you won’t find on the CDC website, but I hope they might help you as they help me:
1. Cast all your anxiety on Him (God) because He cares for you”. 1 Peter 5:7
2. When I am afraid, I put my trust in You (God).” Psalm 56:3
And here’s the one for your bathroom mirror:
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, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3
No matter what happens—earthquakes, tsunamis, pandemics—God is our refuge, strength and help.
May our ‘hunkering down’ be a time of re-evaluation and a chance to understand what really matters in this life. But let’s not open our door to fear. We were not created for that.
Be blessed, Y’all!
P.S. Next time I’m going to put six leaves in my smoothie☺…don’t laugh…baby steps.