I am a worrier and a planner, which is a dangerous combination. Thursday was the first beautiful spring day we've received this year, so I picked the girls up at school and met a friend at the zoo park. It was as lovely and invigorating as I hoped. We watched the squirrels make crazy loops through their cage, watched the monkeys play with their toys, cooed at the pigeons, and then we came to the panther cage. The panther is a relatively new addition to our zoo, coming last year, and he makes me nervous. Our zoo isn't a fancy, AZA-certified place. They put the panther in the cage previously dedicated to a hawk. Now, they did fortify the cage, but I still cringe at the cage and wonder about it's strength and ability to keep this panther in, if it really decided to exit.
So, while we were there, Katie asked me what would happen if the panther got out? What would we do? (See, she IS so a mini-me.) And I told her I'd find a way to throw the girls on top of the roof of the cage, to try to get them safe. This is funny in a lot of ways. 1-A panther could probably jump up there too, so would it really protect them? 2-How am I going to throw two 50-pound girls 12 feet up? (but I bet I'd find a way) and 3-I already had an answer, from the first time I saw the panther at the zoo. At that point, I already had calculated the potential risk (panther out) and formed a plan of action (get girls high, out of harms way). How pathetic is that.
And what's worse, I do it all the time! Lainie spikes a fever just before nap; I treat the fever and lay her down, but already have a plan of "if she has a seizure" from treating the seizure to getting someone to care for K, M, & N. Jay doesn't come home when expected; I forecast the worse possible explanation and start thinking of what steps I'll take next. Even something as benign as Natalie sleeps through the night, I wake up and think, "What if something happened to her in the night?" and immediately start thinking of the next steps I'll take. I spend too much time and energy worrying about things that never happen. As one person told me, 90 percent of what we worry about never happens. So, my theory is that if I worry about the worst possible scenarios, it increases the odds that it won't happen. Crazy? Probably.
But, even as the worrying voice speaks up, the "have faith" voice speaks louder. As humans, we worry. We worry about everything that happens on this earth, worry about tomorrow. Some of us worry more than other...ahem. But as it says in the Bible, "Be strong and take heart, and have no fear of them: for it is the Lord your God who is going with you; he will not take away his help from you." (Deuteronomy 31:6) In other words, even when things seem hopeless and at their worst, if you can just push aside your fear and shadows long enough to let God in, He will help you. He will carry you through. He will show you, even in the darkest days, that you are not alone and there are still moments of light.
For me, the worst fear is losing a loved one. Well, truly, all my fears circle back to the fear of losing my husband or a child. I think a lot of us have that fear. While we are here, on this earth, surrounded by beautiful gifts God has given us, we get complacent, comfortable. We look around at the unending blue sky, the gorgeous smiles of loved ones, the irreplacable giggles of children, and we think, "It can't get any better than this." And that, my friends, is just one more sign of our ignorance and minuteness compared to the power and glory of God. We think this IS heaven...and sometimes we think this is hell. Either way, we get so wrapped up in the now that we forget the tomorrows and the forevers. We worry about leaving this earth, when in fact, we should be celebrating for those who have gone to Heaven. They have already reached the destination that the rest of us only can dream of. And, oh my, if the earth is THIS wonderful, can you imagine what heaven must be?