Tag Archives: fear

YIKES – FACING MY FEAR MOMENT

When fear comes to visit, you usually have two choices—run away from it or bravely face the monster. However, there comes a time in life when “choice” is out of your control. The following true story describes an experience when I faced my fear.

Like most nine-year-old boys, I had certain chores I had to do around the house. One such chore was to take trash from the house and place it in a fifty-five-gallon drum located at the rear of our property. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it!?! Unfortunately, I usually didn’t think about the trash until my mama reminded me, which was usually sometime after dark-thirty.

Well, that drum I mentioned was located in our backyard about one-hundred feet from the house. A short distance from and to the right of the drum was my dad’s workshop. The front of the workshop had a car-size opening without a door. Everything about our backyard was fine during daylight hours, but when darkness came, things looked quite different.

I didn’t really have a fear of the darkness or things that go bump-in-the-night back then, but my fear level was about to take an elevator ride up to the top floor! It all started when I went to a movie with my uncle who was three-years older. The 1954 movie was Creature From the Black Lagoon—my first time to see a “monster” movie. I know what you’re thinking—I should have known better, right? Hey, I was only nine at the time—young and naïve.

I was okay during the first part of the movie. Some people were boating down a river in a jungle setting. They saw some cool sights along the way and I was really enjoying the experience. Then it happened! Some weird, creepy music started playing after a young woman jumped into the black lagoon and began swimming away from the boat. I thought, “Good golly Miss Molly, why did she do that?!?”

That’s when the “creature” appeared on the screen for the first time, swimming just beneath her. Creature3

I quickly covered my face with my hands. It was all I could do to make myself peek between my fingers as the creature reached up to grab the woman’s leg. It didn’t help matters when most of the folks in the theater started screaming. The louder they screamed, the smaller the space between my fingers became. From that point on, it was an hour or so of pure-blood-curdling terror. I couldn’t wait to get my young behind back home and was happy when the movie finally ended.

Creature4

That night after supper (okay, I’m from the south where super is the evening meal), Mama said six little words I didn’t want to hear, “Time to take the trash out.” I knew I couldn’t tell Mama how scared I was because she wouldn’t let me go see another monster movie. I don’t even know why I was worried about that at the time. It wasn’t as if I was ready to go see another monster flick, at least not until I reached the age of twenty-one.

I looked through the kitchen window and it was already pitch-black-dark outside. Mr. Fear jumped up and down in my little head as if he had just won the lottery. He knew there were no lights in the backyard and began shouting, “Scaredy-cat! Scaredy-cat! You have to take the trash out and it’s already DARRRK! The Creature From the Black Lagoon is gonna get you! He’s gonna eat you up!”

In a feeble attempt to delay the inevitable, I mumbled, “Mama, do I have too? I can do it before I go to school tomorrow morning.”

“No, son! You have to take it out tonight.”

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how much fear I was experiencing, but just in case, my knees were knocking and my mouth felt as though I had eaten cotton-balls for super. When I stated, there are times in life when “choice” is out of your control—this is a prime example of one such time for me.

Having no self-elected choice, I picked up the trash bag, stepped onto the back porch, and looked toward the drum located at the far corner of the yard. It was so dark I couldn’t see a thing—not even dad’s huge workshop. Mr. Fear was laughing at me in an eerie tone of celebration. The crickets were chirping louder than normal and the croaking sounds of tree frogs reminded me of the slimy-reptile creature from the black lagoon.

I started taking baby-steps toward the drum. I would take a few steps and then pause. The bump-in-the-night sounds grew louder each time I paused. I wished I hadn’t seen that creature movie, but I continued my journey—no other choice. I began whistling—no specific tune—just whistling. “Jesus Loves the Little Children” would have been an appropriate tune at that moment, but I didn’t think to use it. I figured that if I whistled anything loud enough, I could drown out the eerie noises and pretend they didn’t exist.

Creature1A year of my life seemed to pass as I finally made my way to the workshop off to my right. I envisioned the big eyes of the creature staring back at me from deep within the dark workshop. My heart was trying to beat out of my chest, and all of a sudden, something started growling LOUDLY, as if ready to eat me alive. I yelled “Creature!” and ran to the drum. I threw the trash in and started a mad dash back to the porch—baby steps were now out of the question! I could sense the creature reaching for my head as I continued running for my life! The funny thing about this is I still have no idea what growled at me that night. I guess fear has a way of making you see, hear, and experience things that don’t exist.

Since you’ve read this far, I guess you’ve figured out by now that I made it back to the house safely. What you don’t know is that I set a world-class-speed record by making it back to the porch in less than one second—all one-hundred feet. I evaded my fear—the slimy claws of the Creature From the Black Lagoon. In a way, I faced Mr. Fear, albeit not by choice, and lived to share this story!

So, when do I take the household trash out to the drum these days? I’m pleased to inform you that I do it anytime during the day or night. I’m just more cautious at night. I do this not because of Mr. Fear, but because I learned a lesson by facing him.

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What’s the point of this story? It’s to say that no matter how young  or old one is, we all have fears of some type—some are silly like mine was, and others are more serious, even debilitating. Regardless of the fears you have, find the courage to face them. In the end, you’ll feel better for having done so—maybe even proud of yourself, assuming you live to tell your story.

Now, it’s your turn. Do you have any fears? Have you ever had to face Mr. Fear? What did you do?

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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THE WRONG QUESTION

It was a time in life long ago in a land far away when I first asked The Wrong Question. The year was 1974; I was a twenty-five-year-old first lieutenant in the USAF. My eighteen-month assignment to the small, remote village of Woomera, South Australia was just two weeks from ending when the fragility of life knocked on my door. The events that transpired in those final days rocked the foundation of my faith.

SouthAustralia

WoomeraVilliageTwit

My pregnant wife and one-year-old daughter accompanied me to the Australian outback. We felt it was a great opportunity for us to experience life abroad. The scenery, unusual wildlife, and the Aussie people we met did not disappoint us. We were on top of the world, figuratively speaking, in the land down under, where kangaroo-crossing signs stood along the roadside as a warning to drivers. My second daughter was even born in Woomera, which is story in itself for another time.

KangarooCrossing

Although we had enjoyed living in Australia for seventeen months, we were excited about returning home to the States—just two weeks remained. Suddenly, without any warning, our happy little world came crashing down around us. Our three-year-old daughter started having difficulty breathing during the wee hours of the night. I carried her in my arms to the small hospital because we had recently sold our car. In the few minutes it took to walk there, her difficulty breathing appeared to be getting much worse. I was in ultra-panic mode!

When the doctor examined her, he said there was nothing he could do for her in Woomera. The remote medical facility was simply not equipped to handle someone in her critical condition. What? Critical? She was perfectly fine when she went to bed! The doctor offered little hope that she would survive; his facial expression alarmingly displayed his sense of desperation. Typical of most fathers, I would have given anything to change places with my daughter, but that was not an option.

Australian Flying DrThe Flying Doctor Service airlifted my daughter to a civilian hospital located in the city of Adelaide, over three-hundred miles away. I became even more frustrated when told I couldn’t accompany her on the flight. This was definitely the scariest experience of my young life, but things were going to get worse.

Things were happening extremely fast—my head was spinning! I tried to gather my wits in efforts to figure out how I could get us to Adelaide. First, I humbled myself and asked the young Australian couple if I could borrow the car I had just sold them, which they graciously allowed me to do. Then we had to find someone to keep our second daughter while we were in Adelaide for an unknown duration. A neighbor quickly obliged. Next came getting permission from my commanding officer to allow me to go to Adelaide, which he did without hesitation.

We began the long-slow journey not knowing what we would find when we arrived at the hospital. Ahead of us was eighty miles of dirt road before we reached a small two-lane-paved road outside of Port Augusta that would lead us into Adelaide. We were scared and felt helpless knowing our daughter was in the hospital gasping for each breath. We had many hours to reflect on our situation.

We started asking “WHY” God would allow something like this happen to our precious daughter. She was just an innocent little girl who had done nothing wrong. Then we wondered “WHY” God would punish her for something we may have done. We started questioning our faith and belief in God at a time when we needed Him most. WHYThe question “WHY” kept entering our conversation, but we continued praying. Fear of the unknown was consuming us with each mile we travelled. We kept asking “WHY” He would allow something like this happen to our daughter. WHY?!! WHY?!!

When we arrived at the hospital, a nurse escorted us to the ICU area. The sight we saw was one I’ll never forget. My daughter was still with us, but there were tubes and monitors all around her; she was fighting hard to stay alive. We didn’t know if her next breath would be her last, and prayed that it wouldn’t. The fear of losing our precious child was overwhelming.

Our daughter was in the hands of total strangers in a land halfway around the world from our native land. There were no friends, family, or military personnel to comfort us; we were all alone in a great big world. We prayed; we doubted; we bargained; we prayed harder, asking God to spare our daughter and return her to good health. We were completely exhausted from lack of sleep, food, and the mounting fear—we were numb!

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News of the clear and present danger a young American couple was facing with their child spread throughout the hospital. A pastor came by to prepare us for what might happen. Still searching for answers, we asked him our “WHY” questions.

He responded with the gentle kindness of a man of cloth and reminded us that asking God “WHY” was the wrong question. People have and will continue to ask such questions, but no human possesses the wisdom to answer them. We have to accept the cliché that “sometimes, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people” for reasons known only to God. We must remain steadfast in our faith and place all of our burdens in God’s hands—we should never stop believing and praying. We won’t always get what we pray for because God knows what’s best for us. He has plans for each of us and is always there for us. He reveals His plans to us in His perfect timing.

To say we felt wonderful after talking to the pastor would be a bit dishonest, but he did give us a thread of hope. We continued to pray numerous times each day. More than a week passed before our daughter started improving and ultimately recovered. A true blessing!

To this day, we do not know the answers to our “WHY” questions, but we thank God for sparing our daughter. We have received many blessings from Him since that experience and understand God’s gift of grace. Our faith has grown stronger.

I share this story with the knowledge that many parents ask the same “WHY” questions but don’t always experience the same outcome we did. I know many parents who have lost a child, and my heart goes out to each of them. Having come close to losing my child, I can only imagine how difficult it was for them to move forward with their lives. What I do know is that those who do move on have true faith in God; their knowledge of His love is a blessing that some may never come to understand.

Life can change in a flash, but those who believe and have true faith in God are equipped to handle whatever challenges come their way. They know they Never Walk Alone!

Never Walk Alone Twit

Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Romans 8:28 (NIV) 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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