clouds in the northwest

So, confession time: I am starting to get scared. Of everything.

I don’t like being afraid. I don’t think anyone really does. But there’s a lot ahead in my family’s life that is uncertain, and while I’m not in the thick of it yet, I see it coming. Actually, it sort of reminds me of the Little House on the Prairie series, which I’ve been reading lately.

In The Long Winter, Laura is about 12 or 13, and she and her family are living in South Dakota. They end up enduring an unbelievably difficult winter season in which they have to burn hay to stay warm, eat only bread made from wheat that they’ve ground all day with their coffee grinder, and get hit by blizzard after blizzard… for seven months.

Most of the time they have a blizzard for three or four days in a row, and then maybe one day of sunshine. But eventually they always see that next blizzard cloud coming out of the northwest. With no trains coming in with supplies and no way out (and not enough money, even if they could leave), all they could do when they saw the storm cloud coming was prepare for it as well as they could and brace themselves– committing not to give up, even when life just felt like a giant loop of struggle, cold and backbreaking work in order to stay alive.

Now, my life is definitely not so dire as that. However, I know that my resolve and determination is no match for those pioneers. I don’t like seeing storm clouds come, but instead of springing to action when they happen, I just want to get in bed, get under the covers and cry. I’m not very good at enduring difficulties, being patient or feeling out of control of my circumstances. These last couple months have been hard in some ways, and I can see another blizzard cloud on the horizon: Korea. It’s getting closer, too.

There are things I’m totally excited about, and things that I am dreading. I am excited to meet new people, experience a different culture and climate, eat delicious food (I do like Korean food, at this point), and generally have the freedom again to set our own routine. I would say in general I’m not very nervous about actually adjusting to life, there.

I am dreading the unknown parts, and a lot of that has to do with having a baby. The other day I started thinking about what might happen if Willy couldn’t get away from work when the baby comes and if I’d have to do it on my own. And I worry, like anybody who’s never had a kid, if I’m going to do a good job at all. I’m not a “kid person”; I fawn over cute dogs more than cute children. And it’s much easier for me to take a disciplinarian approach with kids than to figure out how to play with them. How do I bridge the gap between what I want to do with my child ideologically and what comes naturally to me?

I think a lot of my feelings come down to being afraid of the unknown, especially when the unknown will have a drastic effect on my life every day, forever.

It’s interesting— in the books, Laura is tempted to be scared sometimes; her method of dealing with it is to think of her dad, who is strong and steady, and remember him telling her that she must never be afraid. She is even able to emulate that stalwart defense against fear for her little sisters, which comforts them and encourages them, as well as herself.

I have that same heritage, but for some reason it’s easy for me to get scared. But the Word of God actually has a lot to say about fear, and even what it’s rooted in.

Here’s one of my favorites:

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.┬áThere is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:17-18)

I absolutely don’t have to be afraid when I remember who I am:

“Love hath conformed us to him; as he was the great lover of God and man, he has taught us in our measure to be so too, and he will not deny his own image. Love teaches us to conform in sufferings too; we suffer for him and with him, and therefore cannot but hope and trust that we shall also be glorified together with him.” —Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible

So how can knowing who I am change how I react to the storm clouds?

I remember that I’m a vapor here, just like the water vapor in those clouds. I also remember that God loves me and allows me to suffer, that I may be glorified with Him.

That’s the simple answer, and it’s all I can come up with tonight.