Monday, September 9, 2013

The Smell of Fear

A November 2012 study published in Psychological Science, suggests that not only can humans smell fear, but it is contagious.  Strangely enough - I can't imagine who comes up with these tests - perspiration from two groups of men was collected as they watched fearful images or disgusting images.  When two groups of women were shown images and exposed to the scent of the collected perspiration, they either scrunched up their noses in disgust, or widened their eyes in fear, despite the images they viewed having no correspondence to either emotion.  OK, let me just say, the septicity or communicability of disgust is very inconclusive here, as I believe the entire experiment to be highly disgusting!  But the idea that fear is not only perceptible but contagious, makes me think (and that, alone can incite fear).
I have never been exactly comfortable in my own skin.  Truthfully, I have known few people who are completely "secure."  When it boils right down to it, most of us harbor some deep insecurity with physical appearance, social status, financial position, sense of lifetime accomplishment or even spiritual certainty.  I am terribly insecure about operating within the realms of "girl world."  I don't speak the language; I don't enjoy many of the activities; I blanch when I imagine their assessment of me, and worst of all - I don't carry a purse. 
Years ago, when I had to compete foolishly believed I had to compete with my ex's new girlfriend, and my husband's ex-wife, my eating disorder began to rear its ugly head.  It seems to smell my fear - know exactly when to emerge from the pit in an effort to obtain my company right down there with it.  My ex had no longer wanted me because I didn't get dressed up nicely, because I had gained weight, because I "couldn't even wear a little lipstick!" Which, BTW, I loathe -- greasy, waxy stuff that gets on your teeth and leaves that hideous ring around the edges of your lips as it wears, unless of course, you reapply which I obviously don't, because I don't carry a purse!  I had failed at being a girl.
My husband's ex was thin, and dating, and grew up with sisters.  I am not, and wasn't, and didn't.  I could weigh 13 pounds, and I would still have no waist, no boobs, and flat butt.  I am built like a linebacker; in a crowd, my shoulders are registered weapons and my legs make some varieties of indigenous trees look like saplings.  How would I ever measure up?
So I gorged, and I starved, and I purged.  A couple of tablespoons of relish for dinner, a 1/2 gallon of Moose Tracks for lunch the following day... 
THEN, I got myself into - not a size 6, not a "group" - I got myself into the Word!  And I gotta tell ya, I began to see the world.  I began to see what fear looks like.  I knew what it looked like in me; bulimia and I have been friends since 7th grade - the longest close friendship I've been able to maintain! - but I began to see what it looks like in others, and it was startling!  God revealed to me His perfect peace through the promises of His Word.  Each time that peace washed over me, each time I rested in knowing I wasn't ________ enough for others, I began to see that I was ________ enough for my Father.  He loves me no matter what!  Even sitting on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket, eating half a crockpot of meat gravy (that's spaghetti sauce with meat in it, for those who were never married to an Italian) with a fork, He loves me!  And it was through that perfect peace, I was able to see the pandemic of fear that holds others so tightly in its grip.
I've never been out of the states except a trip to Canada when I was about nine, or so, but it seems to me that the "richest, most blessed, strongest nation in the world" - our very own - has fallen gravely ill under the plague of fear.  The media exploits it.  When do you ever remember thunder storms to be cause for a 15 minute segment at the beginning of your local news broadcast? and 24+ hours of news coverage, usurping all other scheduled programming, to cover a story about which they "don't have all the details yet," but will keep talking, and speculating, and alarming you, and impressing upon you the "gravity of the situation, as details come in?"
And litigation?  Our courts are filled with some of the most frivolous suits and bills one could imagine.  Just sit an hour or two in your local municipal or family court - it'll shock you!  Adults refusing to give their neighbor, their ex-husband, their local merchant just a little bit of leeway, fearful that if they do, their lives will spiral into ruin, others will catch wind and try to take advantage as well, they will "lose face."  Must win.  Must stay on top.  Mean girls.  Bullying.  Exploiting government assistance.  Retail theft.  Mishandling of funds.  Gambling.  Abuse.  Fear.  Control.
God's peace reminds me that I have the God of the universe fighting for me (Ex. 14:13-14).  He loves me (Rom. 8:37-39) and He will never fail me (Deut. 31:8).  I can trust His Word is true, or I can rob a bank.  I can lean on His mighty arms, or I can tear someone else down to make myself feel better.  I can cling to Him when my employer begins to eliminate jobs, or I can lend credence to the gossip, and doom and gloom circulating around the water cooler.  I can workout until my muscles tear and my bones break, or I can focus on pleasing My God with my thoughts, my speech, and my actions.
My ex and his girlfriend, and Scott and I went to dinner last night.  Because we wanted to.  We shared appetizers, and talked, and laughed.  Just like friends do.  Turns out peace is contagious, too. 

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