“I don’t’ wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna”
She plopped herself on the airport floor, her mama leading her away from the crowd of folks at the gate. She looked all of 5, jacket nearly slipping off of her shoulders as she bounced on her legs, emphasis for her mama’s benefit.
Her mom stood in the parent pose of silent resolve, “I can outlast you”, you could hear her thinking, her eyes a different determination. It’s tough to be a parent in public these days but she was a superstar.
I watched the scene playing out, thinking if only a video of this could be played for the girl when she’s older. Trying to recall similar scenes of my childhood and thinking how often I’d like to do what this girl is doing now, showing everyone that she doesn’t want to, never knowing what it was she didn’t want to do. Is that even the point? The why? Or just the will?
The quiet truth comes late to me, not wanting to admit my grownup way of showing my will.
I didn’t want to go. I don’t like the show, the ceremony, the dressing up as if we’re someone when I really belong with the no-ones we think we’re helping. I rationalize in every way I can when the truth is I want what I want and I don’t wanna.
There’s no throwing myself to the floor endlessly saying the words. If you’re anything like me, we’re past that. We have more sophisticated ways of showing our will. At least I do.
I make sure to find a seat in the back. I try to lose myself in the crowd, willing not to be noticed or seen. Just get through it.
I try to say the serenity prayer, at least the line I can remember, “help me accept the things I cannot change” and a moment of stillness comes. It’s short lived before someone says something that makes me roll my eyes.
It is a terrible place to be and I can make the place terrible for those around me. Those who have to live with me, listen to me. Or maybe they’ve grown tired of hearing my grownup, “I don’t wanna’s” and just nod at the right places. Sometimes he says it’s not easy being you, with a smile in his voice that I know is his way of trying to soothe. This man is ridiculously patient.
I’ll beat myself up for this. For not being able to let God take over my spirit, for not being able to give these anxieties fully to him and that’s when her words came to me.
Time was short and my eyes skimmed her post but when they fell on this, I saw the truth:
“Anxiety can wear anger’s mask.” Ann Voskamp
It sounds like anger. The words, the tone, the resistance, all masked as anger when truth is it’s that thorn of anxiety I guard as though it’s my life’s companion and I guess it is. We need to break-up but every time I decide to call it quits it never lasts.
You know Ann. You know what she’s going to say, that when anxiety and fear threaten to consume you, to count your thanks, your gifts, God’s blessings that overflow in our lives. But all I can hear is the voice of fear, an uneasiness that is without reason.
This is the real me. The rebellious spirit that rises up that isn’t about rebellion but anxiety over… what?
Oh, I hope you know where I am on this. I hope you get this fear that can take over your mind for no reason except you don’t wanna.
I can gather up my fears or His peace.
The fear is comfortable, it’s what I know, a near constant companion if I’m to be true.
But peace? It is the less familiar, the choice that takes new steps, small and deliberate. It takes a slowing down, a humbling of self, a giving of grace to self and others.
There are words tucked in my mind, words from long ago that I search for, something about “a child shall lead them”. How many times did Jesus gather the children up to him? And He, He was the child the old scribes said would lead them. Lead them to peace.
To the Savior who stretches his arms out to the children, stretch your arms out to me. Pull me up from the floor, from my pouting ways. Let your grace wash over me in an assurance that calms my fears and brings welcome peace.