I enjoy the outdoors. But only to what can only be described as a limiting limit.

I’ve been tent camping. And I’ve even enjoyed it. Mostly. Okay, somewhat. Okay, my idea of camping involves a bed & breakfast with gourmet food, probably some wine, a cozy fire and a luxurious over-sized bed.

I like hiking. For its scenery. For its wonder. For its beauty. Even for its exertion.

I love picnics. Well, maybe I love the idea of picnics more than picnics themselves. And, well, it’s probably more about the food than it is about sitting outside on a blanket. In fact, one of the best picnics I can recall was on the living room floor of my loft apartment in Lexington, Kentucky because heavy rains forced us inside before we’d even left.

So, then, what to make of this limiting limit that innately influences my outdoorsy-ness.

Well, it’s mostly about the bugs. And other critters. Not the cute ones, mind you. Like birds and squirrels and turtles. It’s about the creepy crawly ones. The, dare I say it, the less cute ones. The ones that appear 33% bigger in my mind’s eye than they appear on the grass in front of me.

What can I say. I’m a city girl. I am more comfortable with the unique smells on a Boston subway car than with the idea that a copperhead snake likely lives in the woods behind our rental house {even if I’ve never seen one}.

Trust me when I say, I know these fears are {mostly} irrational. I understand the reality that a palmetto bug is not going to leap onto my head, causing me to flail uncontrollably like a Muppet {like I did when one crawled up and over my head as I sat in the dark one night was putting my youngest girl to bed}. But though they be irrational, they are real. Real enough to me.

Real enough to keep me from doing laundry in our unfinished, bug-infested basement.

Real enough to cause my pulse to race when it is just me and my girls outside because my husband the dragon slayer is at work and I have to dispatch a palmetto bug in an outwardly calm and collected manner.

Real enough to cause me incredible anxiety just in the sighting of something creepy-critterly close by.

Something, like a lizard.

One day, while the girls and I were outside enjoying the North Carolina summer weather, I spotted one such lizard. While keeping him in my line of sight as he crawled across the inside wall of the garage, near where the girls were playing on their bikes and scooters, I wrote this email to my husband:

Yes, I like the outdoors, but to a limiting limit. I don’t know if at the age of 46 it is possible to unlearn and relearn what are deeply-ingrained anxious, nay frightened reactions. We are sitting here outside. The girls are playing and I am looking at houses and such. And from the corner of my eye, I see a lizard on the garage wall – inside the garage. Yes, I think it’s pretty cool. As long as he stays where he is. But inside, my fight or flight mechanism is ready to R-U-N if he moves even an inch this way. And because I don’t want to pass these reactions on to my girls, I try to play it so cool. Pointing it out to them. Agreeing that it is amazing. But how I wish I were less fearful and might consider going over to it with them, maybe even picking it up. But really no can do.

So, let’s focus on what I will be able to focus on with them and pass along to them. Love of music. Love of writing and story. Love of beauty and seeing it out in the world.

Those are good things, too, right?

Mind you, I consider myself a pretty strong, independent, confident woman. I don’t typically seek validation from others. At least not so blatantly. At least recently. At least since I’ve started seeking God first in all my circumstances.

Since I’ve started letting God define my worth. Because I prefer his platinum standard to my flawed human one.

Maybe you know this flawed standard, too. The one where you judge yourself by the world’s ideas and expectations. Or by what you think others think about you. Or by what you think you ought to be able to do. Or by any number of other flawed measurements.

Of course finding my worth in Jesus is still new to me. I suspect it will continue so until I see him face to face. So, sometimes, I seek God’s truth in tangible ways, like in my husband. In the same way that God uses my husband {and now my children} to challenge me in areas I need to grow, he often uses my husband to remind me of the truth. 

Upon receiving my email, my husband replied:

Those are very good things.  I know you don’t want to pass on what you think are flaws in your character, but you are you and being afraid (that’s not the best word for it, really) of creepy crawlies is nothing to be ashamed of.  I know I tease you, but I really would never try to change you.  And the girls won’t necessarily “catch” it anyway – we just need to encourage them to enjoy what they enjoy and if it happens to creep you out, you can just stand back and watch, lol.

Still, I’m proud of you for keeping your cool.  You’re a good mama.

So, focus on your strengths and don’t worry about it – they will turn out fine! 🙂

Those words spoke a much-needed assurance to my inner awkward insecure self. They breathed love and truth to my heart and my spirit. And with the smile of a woman who knows how deeply she is loved, I thanked God {again} for binding my heart to my husband’s as well as his.

I thanked God for my dragon slayer and truth teller.

And that the lizard never moved that dreaded inch in my direction.


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