All of my teenage and adult life has been focused on that one word. Dread.
How did I learn that word? How did I come to the conclusion that it was an accurate description of my feelings?
What comes to mind is an episode of a TV show I used to watch (I can’t remember what show this was – Maybe Full House?) where a kid hears her parents talk about being nervous – how they would certainly be nervous before doing something that she was about to do, and all of the sudden the kid develops stage fright. Really convinced that she is now feeling those things that her parents were feeling, she tries to back out of a performance, and the parents don’t realize what is happening until she repeats their words: “I’m nervous.” They only realized then that they had not only taught her a new vocabulary word, but they had also taught her to fear something she had no real need to fear.
I wonder if that’s what happened to me. Did I hear people talk about dreading work and then decide that I did, too?
When it Happens
I’ve felt dread about all kinds of situations in my life, but usually they fall into one of two categories:
1. Responsibilities – Things I have to do cause me to feel dread. Sometimes, when I think about it, I can laugh at myself a little because I know that if it weren’t something I had to do, I might actually enjoy it. But, sadly, knowing that doesn’t always help. I still feel the dread that I’ve learned to associate with responsibilities.
2. The Unexpected – I also feel dread when facing new and unexpected situations. This is probably related to my reluctance to face change. I like what I know, what is tried and true, and I dread entering situations where I might have to face something I haven’t faced before.
These are my mountains. Deployment, for instance, falls partially under both categories. Doing dishes falls under responsibilities. Going alone to a party falls under unexpected. Everything, it seems, is related to one or the other, or both.
Your mountains may have different shapes or may be made of a different substance, but these are mine.
I have to do this. I know I have to do this. I need to, and I’m expected to do this. If I don’t do this, bad things will happen. I don’t want to do this, but I have to…
Thus cycle my thoughts.
Before I can climb any mountains in my life, I have to work past the dread. This comes before breaking a task down into manageable, bite-sized pieces and before taking any first baby steps. Because, no matter how small I tell myself the steps are, dreading them can still keep me from taking the first step. So, how do we do it?
One way to work past dread is by blocking it out. This is the method I’ve used most frequently, though I’m not necessarily proud of it. I try to think on anything other than the task at hand, and by so doing, trick myself into doing what I know I must. I can do it with loud music, with talking to friends, and with generally keeping busy.
The second method is preferable and probably more healthy than the first. Prayer. I so often underestimate the power of prayer. I have to continually remind myself that praying is not what it sometimes feels like. It is not just talking to myself or to the ceiling or sky. It’s not just something that makes me feel better, either.
- Prayer is speaking with my God, who is actually the only one who has the ability to help me. He is all-powerful!
- Prayer is drawing succor from the Holy Spirit, who was given to me by God to be my Comfortor when I was saved.
- Prayer is admitting my insufficiencies and relying my Heavenly Father.
- Prayer is accepting that my Lord is in control, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
- Prayer is taking the focus off of myself and remembering to praise the Maker.
I want to encourage you to do what I also try to do: Face your mountains prayerfully. Manage your dread by facing it with prayer rather than blocking or avoiding it. Use prayer to prepare yourself for your first step!
What things do you dread? What do your mountains look like? What causes mole-hills to become mountains for you? How do you prepare to climb them?
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