The Knock at the Door
Am I ready? Are we ever ready? When I was in my 40s I learned a simple practice. It helps me when I feel anxious about one of my loved ones.
First, a little background. I wasn’t ready to be a parent, even though I wanted children and welcomed them eagerly into our home. I remember lying awake after giving birth, unable to sleep for sheer happiness and awe.
Babies were wonderful. They were hard work, yet there was still a sense of wonder in me and joy in seeing them grow. They became toddlers, young children, pre-teens and then teens. My sense of wonder gave way to worry.
Where were they? What were they doing? Were they safe? Very quickly ‘what ifs’ became my knee-jerk response to uncertainty.
I had a problem. The household skills I learned when I was growing up seemed to work well. But parental skills? My husband and I didn’t have one shred of preparation for marriage or for being parents. The crisis came when ‘teenagery’ hit the fan. (Thanks to one of my children for this magnificent term.)
Control was out; worry was in. I went downhill fast in several parts of my life. In my 12-step work, one of my new friends shared a simple exercise that helped her deal with uncertainty and fear about family members. I took it home and put it work that very night.
Over the years I’ve shared it with friends caught up in the same kind of anxiety. I’ve included it here as part of my response to Amy Carmichael’s poem, Missing. I found my friend’s simple exercise compelling. It isn’t just for official, declared wartime. It’s for now, and whatever is around the next corner.
I close my eyes and visualize my higher power, God, clothed in light and walking toward me. God’s cupped hands reach out to me. I’m clutching my loved one tightly in my hands. I relax, loosen my grip, stretch out my arms, and place my loved one in God’s outstretched hands. God smiles at me and at my loved one. I stand there and watch as God’s hands enfold him/her. Then God turns and walks away without looking back.
I do this exercise when anxiety strikes. The more people I love, the more people I have to let go of in ways that keep me connected to them, without trying to pretend I’m God. They don’t belong to me. They belong to God.
I’m not saying this will work for everyone, or that everyone should try this. I’m also not saying this makes everything OK if a knock comes at the front door. It doesn’t. I’m saying this helps me get through my life as it is, one day at a time, without losing my perspective on the larger picture of my life as God’s beloved daughter-child.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 February 2015