Lent Post #37: Laying Aside the “Can’t” and Clothing Yourself in the “Can:” Finding the Courage to Get Up and Go

Fear is a bear. It is an impossible thing to overcome. Earlier in Lent, I blogged on the desire for adult fears to be more like those of a child’s; but in reality, it seems like it is more that adulthood fears are paired with phrases like, “I can’t, I have…” or, “I wish I could, but…” Excuses become perfect masks for fears, and soon, the actual fears themselves become unrecognizable, or larger than they were in the beginning. 

Like I said. Fear is a bear. It comes up to your car, scratches your window, even breaking it, just to get to your lunch box, which might just have a turkey sandwich. But it wants that turkey sandwich, damn it. And at all costs. 

A few weeks ago, my electrophysiologist (aka the electrician for the heart – a sub-specialist in Cardiac diseases and a physician who treats, not cures [since rarely can they be cured] conditions of the electrical system of the heart) told me that I would be able to resume some types of normal activity, assuming that I feel ok, and keep an eye on my symptoms, device, etc. I haven’t been physically active in three years, and for someone who used to run, ride a bike, and ski every weekend, this type of news comes with mixed emotions…really mixed emotions. It comes with a great deal of joy, because those are words I never thought I would hear again. I thought I would never walk up stairs again, let alone have the opportunity to try jogging, riding a bike, or skiing. Walking is a task right now, but not having to guard my physical activity with my life is a nice prospect! On the other hand, I’m afraid. The last time I ran (well, it was more like jogging, but for me, it was DEFINITELY RUNNING…), I passed out and ended up with bruises in some not so lovely places. My fear for physical activity is real, like a bear wanting to eat out of a locked dumpster at all costs. I’m afraid of running and having something horrible happen, but what is worse, I’m afraid of running and actually being able to run. The fear is real, since I’ve had not so nice experiences, and now I’m living with a battery for a heart. I’m afraid of screwing something up in my heart, of not being as good athletically, and of actually enjoying myself again! 

Fears are very real, emotional, tangible things that happen to all of us, whether we like them or not. Just face it. And they suck, because no pill, no lipstick, no workout routine, no class, and no change of locale will make them go away permanently. The only thing that will make a fear go away is to face it head on. To change the mentality that is perpetuating the fear itself: to lay aside the “can’t” and clothe yourself in the “can.” A proactive, “can do” attitude takes away the power from the fear, and puts it in its place…in the background, not the foreground. Fears shouldn’t dictate how lives are lived, but should merely be a blip on our radars. 

A wise woman once said that fears prevent us from having faith, and so when we come to a crossroad in life, we can either choose fear or faith. I wish I could say that in the last 15 months, when I was facing five surgeries and procedures (yes, 5 in 15 months…) that I chose faith over fear in this manner, but I was definitely afraid at times. Yet, faith got me through, and so I clothed myself in faith, understanding the fact that fear was simply a mask. 

Fear doesn’t change anything about any of life’s circumstances; it doesn’t make the hard things in life better, nor does it make the wonderful circumstances any more bright and beautiful. Fear just paralyzes, and separates. It distances, guards and shields. Fear becomes another partner in relationships, another spouse, sibling, or character in a narrative. It rarely is a positive influence, but frequently impacts negatively. Sometimes fear is rational – fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of the consequences of a procedure. But many times (and most of the time), fear is irrational and cannot change anything – fear of spiders, fear of stepping on a crack, fear of never getting a job, fear of never finding a spouse, fear of the unknown…

So set fear aside. Set the “can’t” aside for the “can.” Imagine how many doors will open when you can instead of can’t, when your possibilities are limitless. 


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