I am a living witness. I have witnessed death – inside my own body. Besides a near death experience, I can’t imagine getting closer to death and surviving. Death caused me to cry out in despair from the deepest parts of myself.
Because of this, I am not afraid.
It wasn’t until I experienced the despair that I truly understood that I would never be alone and I would always be comforted. It wasn’t until the loss, that I actually comprehended the hope of heaven in the life to come and in the here and now. I am confident that no matter what I face, the love will outweigh the pain.
Does this mean I will never struggle with fear again? That would be nice, but I seriously doubt it. I think I will need to remind myself of these truths again and again.
The day after coming home from the hospital, I had a moment of anxiety and started picturing horrible things happening to others that I love. It became real to me that bad things do happen and no one I love is immune to tragedy. Fear gripped me. As I have always done when I’m scared, I ran to my mommy. I told her about my fear of awful things happening to everyone I love. I thought she’d assure me these were my hormones talking and nothing else bad will happen. Instead she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Aimee, we’re all going to die.” “Ugh! Mom, this is not what your are supposed to say to me right now!!” But then she continued, “We have hope in death, and it really is okay.” This is true.
For survival purposes we mostly live our lives in a state of denial and avoidance of the thought of death. Because of this, there is always a big, dark elephant in the room. We ignore it. We hide from the fear instead of face it and process the idea of eternity. When we do process it, there is freedom.
Let me describe the freedom that I am experiencing:
- Being close to death changes your priorities. Have you ever heard someone ask, “When you are on your deathbed, will you be glad you spent your time the way you did?” Death puts life into perspective. Pointless things that once seemed to matter, suddenly no longer do. It becomes clear how you should spend your time. You focus on love instead of stressing the small stuff. The truly important things become more precious. You don’t waste your time.
- You view your life in terms of eternity. This life is only a small phase in the timeline of your existence – the pain will be over. You’ll see your loved ones again. You won’t be lonely. Your body won’t drag you down forever. Your heart will be light soon.
- You realize you have no control. You have free will, but some things are just completely out of your control. This powerlessness forces you to trust and surrender and let go. You don’t have to carry the weight or guilt of living in perfection. You don’t have to hold your breath.
- You no longer care so much what people think of you. You only have so much time to do what you’re called to do on Earth so just go for it. You put yourself out there in new ways (i.e. this blog). You have freedom from your pride and the things that once held you back.
- You have a more intimate relationship with God. He is near to the brokenhearted. In that nearness, you show him your brokenness. Through your weakness, he is strong. That weakness includes anger, frustration, jealousy, misunderstanding. You take your anger to God. He can handle it. He has more than enough grace for you. He loves you in your anger. He empathizes with you in your pain. He holds your faith in your unbelief. You are closer to him in a new way, forever. His grace and love surround you.
This freedom has changed my life in almost every area. The wail of a mourning mother is more than pain. She’s forced to look straight into the darkness of death. God’s light shines on it – it purges fear. Raw freedom and life are left. At least this is true in my case, right now, as one who lives in hope.
I’m sure I will fear again. When I do, I will lay it down at the feet of Jesus. He carried all our fears to the cross. Fear has already been overcome. We just need to live in that reality. The power of the name of Jesus is enough to chase away fear. It was enough to chase away death. Pick up the freedom that belongs to you.