On our first week back at church here in Adelaide, one of the ‘greeters’ at the door recoiled at the idea of taking our baby to Tanzania. (I was just over 38 weeks pregnant at the time. Elliot was born 4 days later.) After her initial shock, this lady said, ‘Oh, you’re very brave.’ That’s a pretty common response. The irony is, of course, that I don’t feel brave at all. I’m afraid.
Elliot’s birth didn’t go according to plan. After several hours of labour it became clear that the intervention-free, natural delivery we’d wanted was not possible. At that point, countless medical personnel sprang into action so that Elliot was delivered by caesarean. But this is the best sort of being out of control, the kind where there are still others to take care of you, and everyone ends up safe and healthy at the end. Where you can say, ‘I knew God’s care of me through the outstanding Australian healthcare system.’
The other sort of ‘out of control’ is the one where people don’t end up safe or healthy at the end. It’s the experience of many Tanzanian women and part of what motivates us to be part of working for wholeness there. It’s one that, for all the advantages afforded us by being westerners and being looked after by CMS, we will expose ourselves (and our son) to as we move to Tanzania.
It was scary enough being out of control in Australia; the idea of being out of control in Tanzania is terrifying. And so we have a choice, the same one we’ve been blogging about for the past little while. We need to move from fear to faith.
Not the kind of faith that trusts that God will always provide the healing or safety, but the kind of faith that trusts that he continues to be good, that he does love us and care for us, that brokenness grieves him too. I’ll be ‘thinking out loud’ on this over the next little while in a series of blog posts on risk.
How can I resist my fear?
What practical steps of faith can I take?
In this series:
Theological reflections on risk
Categories: Tanzania Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.
Very much looking forward to follow up posts on this topic. Thank you!
Yes v practical across a range of settings! I wonder if “resisting fear” is right? For many people the idea that they can control their feelings of fear keeps them stuck. I think it’s v important to acknowledge our fear (as you do), but choose to act in ways that place the emphasis on our faith in God, despite our fear. Perhaps “resisting acting out of fear” is the way to phrase it? It may seem merely semantic hair splitting, but in my work I have seen this to be crucial for people who struggle with anxiety.
Look forward to reading more. Thanks!
Thanks Camilla, I think that’s a helpful clarification. When I say ‘resisting fear’, I think I mean not allowing it to overwhelm or control me so ‘resisting acting out of fear’ is a good way to phrase it.
I think we have a false sense of control in a western first world setting, and childbirth is one of the experiences which shows us that we really have no control. My personal feeling is that birth plans are poorly named. They should be birth dreams, because when the ‘plan’ goes awry, many women find themselves with feelings of failure, and depression… when they still have a healthy baby, and they themselves are healthy… And I do think it is because we have built up the idea that we can control the birth. No one discussed the birth plan with Eliot.
Living in a non-western, non-first world environment is a wonderful experience, which will show you that you are not in control, and that is okay. Yes, things will go wrong. Badly wrong, probably. But since you are not in control, you can trust the one who is. And there is a comfort in that, I think.
How can you resist your fear? Why should you? Why not just acknowledge that you are afraid, and see where that takes you?
What practical steps can you take? Small ones at first. Passports, tickets, vaccinations, packing. And give yourself a high five for these small steps, and try another. Just keep going.
Sorry, that’s all a bit preachy. But it was meant with love.
Oh how I wish I had read this before my sermon last week!
Enjoying all your ‘thinking out loud’ and looking forward to those to come!
Tamie, thank you for this, and other posts about faith and fear. Still so pertinent.
It’s interesting that my Mum often asks me about you, Arthur and Elliot. She’s utterly fascinated/taken aback by what you’re doing. It provides so many opportunities to talk about these topics, and she sends her best wishes.