By Sr. Janis Yaekel, ASC
I am Sister Janis Yaekel, ASC and I have pancreatic cancer. In fact, I have lived with cancer since 2012. I hope to share in my blog my journey and my reflections on the presence of God in my life. It is my hope that those who read my entries will find strength for their own journeys.
Today I am in the waiting zone. I recently had my CT scan and MRI. I will get results today. It’s a hard wait so I try to keep myself busy with stuff that I have been putting off like cleaning the bathtub. I don’t know what it is about bathtubs but I hate to clean them. Now there is a bit of knowledge about me that I am sure you didn’t know and probably didn’t need to know. Oh well I’m in a bit of a crazy mood today. But bathroom cleaning and getting my rooms in order somehow make the waiting more bearable. It’s good to have some order when emotional chaos is going on inside.
Waiting for medical results in the middle of Lent can give a whole new meaning to the season. Anxiety often would like to take hold of me during my waiting periods. In the past fear has made the wait seem much longer than it really is. I think that it is a legitimate emotion considering I have pancreatic cancer but recently I have found that I can beat the fear for the most part by simply keeping busy with things I need to do or with things that interest me.
Yet I think Lent also invites us to look at fear from another angle, to see it for what it is, a paralyzing emotion that is not of God. Here I am talking about those free floating fears that lead to unnecessary worry. This fear keeps us from knowing God as friend, as cheerleader and as the one that loves us unconditionally. Fear that prevents us from making wise choices or which immobilizes us is evil not Godly.
This type of fear has been used by parents, teachers and others to manipulate a person into certain behavior patterns but it also can lead to lifelong enslavement to anxiety. There is no freedom for the one enslaved by fear of this kind. And what started out as “God’s going to get you for that,” eventually leads to a fear of everything and everyone who doesn’t fit into our pattern for goodness. We are taught this fear early and as adults it is translated into fear of the immigrant, the terrorist, the person of color or the person who doesn’t exhibit this same anxiety.
During these next weeks of Lent follow the life of Jesus. He was not a man of fear. He was a man of compassion. He was willing to take on the leaders of the Jewish religion because they kept the people from knowing this freedom. He wasn’t anxious about whether he said the right thing or not or whether he was doing something that broke religious rules. He simply said and did what he knew would be the most loving thing regardless of laws and traditions.
Perhaps freedom from bondage to fear and anxiety is the grace that we need to ask for during this season. Perhaps now is the time when we can find the courage to be what God wants us to be not what others think we should be. In fact when we take the phrase, “I should,” out of our vocabulary we may well be on the road to freedom. Follow your worried thoughts and actions that are based strictly on rules and regulations and see if free floating fear has more power than it should. Then change what you can and ask God to give you freedom to be the person you were meant to be.