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Childhood Fears

Recently I spoke with my friend, Chris, in the UK about parenting, creativity, and uncertainty. During our conversation, he mentioned writing poetry with his son during their school time. They wrote about the dark.

It got me thinking back to when I was a child; I was afraid of the dark, the unknown, and what cannot be seen. I would often lay awake in my room, haunted by visions of the dark. What was that noise? What casts the immense shadow on the wall? Would I make it until morning?

Make Believe by Nick Dertinger

These questions plagued my thoughts for many years, and far worse when there would be a thunderstorm. The crack of lightning would shake my house as the wind and rain pounded the window. Thunder booming with such ferocity, I thought my tiny little heart would explode. This welling up of fear cost me many nights. 

I still struggle with fear, anxiety, and depression. I don't like the word "struggle." It feels like I am playing tug-o-war with my mental health. I prefer "battle." I battle with fear, anxiety, and depression. It's a battle because I don't always win. I often lose to my mental health, and these thoughts of anger, worry, and dark sadness envelop my being. Even as I write this, I fight the battle. Today feels like I am winning, but most of these last two weeks have been a loss. I don't admit it to sound better than anyone, but I admit it to myself, to address it. 

To bury our mental health for the sake of "being on display" is human. It isn't in our nature to be vulnerable or honest with ourselves. We don't want others to peek in and see we are afraid of the dark. And yet, the burying becomes time-sensitive. As time goes by, it festers and bellows up, waiting to rear its head. 

So if you've made it this far, you may be asking, "Nick, I was hoping for something helpful, something hopeful. What's the deal?"

Look, I have hope. 

I know grace. 

I know love. 

I know joy. 

I know peace. 

These are things I believe through faith. That does not change the fact that this battle I have (and perhaps you have, too) is real. And it is as real as ever under our current circumstances. 

I wish I had a clinical, clear-cut, 100% guaranteed answer that would make everything okay. I don't have that. 

What I do have is what works for me: Faith. 

I believe there is hope because God promised new life. One day he will wipe every tear from our eyes and make everything new. (Rev.21:4-5)

Tears? Yes, tears. Because the world is mourning the loss of so many things in life, the world mourns the lives of loved ones, time with others, jobs, relationships, time, school, projects, income, etc.

I have gathered a few things I have returned to lately.

A few things to consider:

:: Mourning is a natur

al response to loss.

:: Mourning is inevitable in the broken world

:: Mourning points me to Jesus.

 :: Acceptance of my mourning is not defeat; acceptance is awareness.

:: Talk honestly with some you can trust.

:: Take time for self-care*

*I hate the phrase 'self-care,' but I cannot think of anything better. The point is to take time to do healthy things for yourself that rejuvenates and encourages your soul. I.e., watch a movie, read a book, facetime with a friend, paint a picture, take a nap, take a walk, sip tea, drink coffee, etc. 

For some, this is entirely relatable. For others, you may feel this wasted on you. But what you should realize from this is that you have to have grace for yourself and others. 

Fight for change? Yes.

Stay vigilant to flatten the curve? Yes.

Support local businesses? Yes. 

Check-in on friends and loved ones? Yes.

None of that stuff changes. Instead, recognize your mental health for the sake of your future. 

And I say this because this is me. 

It may not be you.

But it is me.

And I need to keep myself accountable.

Find what works for you. 

Share it with a friend. 

Spread joy. 

Not fear. 

But know your fears so you can move forward. 

With love. 

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