Be Not Afraid

I am afraid of heights and mostly conquered that with my trip through the mountains on the back of my brother’s Harley. Unclear on the origins of this fear, I haven’t found it to be too disruptive in my daily life. I still accept all trips on planes, I climb out on the roof to fetch whatever Plum decided to toss up there. This fear hasn’t stopped me. I am also uncomfortable on bridges. I love pictures of them, I am deeply moved by the symbolism. I prefer to be on either end, not on, not crossing. I think there is a story in there, another day perhaps. My longest standing fear though has roots in childhood, is not proportionate to danger, is difficult given that I live in the country. I am afraid of mice.

Friends and family who have spent time with me in the fall, in the winter mostly all have a story of their own, a story that most often begins with a scream and the rushing of help, a bewildered look at me, then the rescue. Always unclear if they are saving me or the mouse but creating distance and secure boundaries is critical for each of us. A colleague many years ago offered to help, to do systematic desensitization. I knew this would help but I was too afraid. Phobia level. My response is automatic, deeply imbedded. I don’t want long term help, I don’t want any mice near me. For the record, I also don’t visit pet stores without knowing the floor plan, not chancing an unexpected encounter. By extension, gerbils, hamsters, oh dear God ferrets, all on the no-go list. Doesn’t it make sense that before I had children I had a pet snake? Of course I couldn’t participate in his feedings, but loved that he took an active role in easing my pain. So it is with great concern that I must admit I have been dreaming about mice for the last month. Dreaming, in my bed, in my safe sleep time. Mice.

When I woke this morning and remembered the mouse who visited was actually a rat, I knew it was time for help. Firing up my laptop, researching the meaning of “dreams about mice” while the coffee brewed, I needed answers and then solutions quick. This is getting out of hand. What I found was interesting, thought provoking. I generally am able to identify the themes in my dreams rather easily, I know what I am avoiding, what needs to be faced. I know how my brain nudges me when I am more vulnerable. I trust my dreams, I think God speaks to me then. Many years ago when I was particularly distressed about my brother’s death, when I just felt the ache of things not said when suicide changes everything, my brother came to me while I slept. He told me he was fine, he was good, to let him go. He said he loved me and he was safe. Then he was gone. I woke feeling peaceful, knowing truth. Every once in a while, my daughter and granddaughter visit me in my dreams, at first this was startling. I no longer hurt when these visits happen, I cherish the peek into her life, I hold onto the vision that God has shared with me. I wake with a hopeful heart, storing up these night time moments as if they were photos on my IPhone. I trust my dreams . So what to do about these visits from mice?

In considering these dreams, I realized I am never afraid during these encounters. The mice are not the focus, just a side story. My friends are often the ones who handle the mice, who interact with the rodents while I am doing my other dream business. I don’t wake afraid, rather annoyed that it happened again. My Googling explained I may be avoiding a small problem. Um, always. Or I may need to see mice as survivors, a species that uses ingenuity and creativity to solve problems. Hmm. Or maybe, if I see mice as dirty, I am feeling shame. Well, none of this narrows it down. I want that one concrete answer to solve my mystery and give me the steps to stop mice from scurrying into my slumber.  Maybe I need to trust what has already worked, to look to God rather than the internet.

“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 1:8 (NIV)  What if the message is just that? What if God is summoning visions of friends who will help, opportunities to show me Chef and I have nothing to fear? My greatest phobia is meaningless when challenged with faith. I don’t wake afraid. Emmanuel, God with us. I can rest easy knowing my shame, my doubts, my worries are nothing compared to the power of my God. During this season of great uncertainty, finances and futures looking bleak, God is telling me not to be afraid. Who am I to doubt?

I am not going to lie, I am hoping that by looking into the mice dreams, finding the message will stop the visits before they turn into more rat roamings. I am saying loud and clearly, I got it! We are firmly in God’s care, we will come out of this trying season exactly as God wishes as long as we continue to follow the path He is laying before us. We are not promised easy, we are not guaranteed riches. We only have the promise of His mercy and love. Sometimes that looks like handling mice for me. Always it means handling much larger problems. I don’t need Google to tell me that.




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