House Hunting in Germany, Part 4: Overcoming Fear
You can find the first three chapters of this series here…
Even though the title and theme for the last chapter of the House Hunting in Germany series was planned weeks before, I’m sitting down to write this post in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks that shook Paris and Beirut last week with a new perspective.
To start off, I’m going to back-track a little bit, and continue where I left off in Part III.
When we got the keys to our new house, I was so excited to immerse ourselves in European culture and soak it all up.
Our household goods arrived just a few weeks later, I started learning how to manage our home, and we began to get our life set up here. In the midst of it all, I had all of these well-intended plans of making friends with our neighbors and enrolling our boys in the local Kindergarten so they could begin learning German.
Then, my husband was required to go on a group-tour of the surrounding area as part of his in-processing. Not a bad way to spend a day of work, I say. Somewhere along the way, however, in the middle of a crowded farmer’s market, his tour guide was interrupted by a disgruntled local.
“Are you Americans?!” She demanded in English, quickly drawing the attention of the market-goers. “You and your air base need to get out of our country! You’re ruining it!”
She continued to make a scene while the tour guide apologized, and said, “unfortunately, this kind of thing is not uncommon, but it’s best to not take it personally.”
Later, after re-enacting the story for me, my husband – who is usually as laid back as they come (just one of many reasons why we balance each other out so well) – confessed it bothered him to think about how many people harbored similar sentiments beneath friendly faces and interactions. I have to admit, that rattled me, and my outlook on our life here in Germany took an unexpected shift.
Were we unwelcome?
Fear started creeping in, slowly but surely, and I began to withdraw myself without meaning to.
Looking back, for about six weeks after that, as we began to settle into our new surroundings, I realize I spent a majority of my time out of the house on base. I took the boys to the playgrounds, we shopped at the commissary, I signed up our eldest to start karate, and, even when we had no reason to be there, I found myself just driving around roads that looked and felt familiar. Comfortable. Safe.
Then, refugees fleeing their war torn country began arriving in our local community, while others who didn’t make it were washing up on the shores of Greece. Men, women, and children. So many, they are now running out of places to bury the dead.
While I completely agree with Germany’s open heart approach (we must love and help these people who are desperately in need), I have to say, it was definitely an eye-opener. Security was immediately heightened everywhere, and I started questioning our decision to live on the economy, not because I was scared of the refugees, but because I was scared of what they were running from. I let fear take control.
Then, something else happened that sent my anxiety levels through the roof.
One morning, while my husband was at work and I was in the third story bathroom, the boys wandered downstairs by themselves. However, it didn’t take long for my Mommy gut to tell me something was wrong.
I ran down to the first floor to find the front door wide open, my four-year old looking up at me with guilt in his big blue eyes, and my two-year old nowhere in sight. My heart leaped into my throat, as the door opens right onto one of the busiest streets of our village. For a split second, I was almost too afraid of what I might find outside that door to move a muscle, but, somehow I did.
Thank the good Lord, I found my baby standing on the sidewalk just outside the door, watching the cars drive by. But, that was the last straw.
I wanted to run away. Not from my family, of course, but from our house. From Germany. From all of the things that threatened to pop the comfortable, yet entirely fake bubble of security I thought I had been living in.
After that, I begged my husband to apply for a house on base. Even though he was pretty reluctant, he did, and we were offered a 3-bedroom apartment on the first floor that same day. I was flooded with feelings of relief. As much as I had looked forward to living off-base in Germany, I remember thinking we were going to be safe!
As the weeks got closer to our move, however, I began to take a step back and really start thinking about what was happening to me.
Terrifying, disturbing things have been happening around here. But, then, again, terrifying, disturbing things have been happening back in the states (and everywhere else), as well.
The more I thought, the more I realized trying to escape from my fear by running away from it is like trying to run away from myself – pointless – because fear and anxiety live within us. Even though moving to base housing may have made me feel safer for a little while, the truth is, global events have shown us we are never really safe anywhere.
In the end, I decided to face my fear rather than try to escape it. We canceled our request for base housing, and I clung to my faith.
Through all of this, I have come to believe we are allowed to fear. Although many may disagree with me, I think it’s okay to be afraid.
Because God can handle it.
What we can’t do is allow that fear to breed hatred and tear us apart.
Joshua 1:9 has become a verse that we hang onto in this life that we have chosen. You will find it written over and over again on this blog.
Even though God was speaking directly to Joshua, the warrior, in this piece of scripture, I believe He is with us wherever the military sends us, as well.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” | Joshua 1:9
And, I believe the only way to conquer our fear is to give it up to the Lord, because His love and mercy never fail.
My thoughts and prayers are with the refugees, the people of France and Lebanon, and with the terrified and suffering all over the world.