The following story is similar to the last post but not the same. Spot the differences?
The egg cracks, and a forked tongue flicks into the night air. Fragments of the shell, thick and dark, fall into the soil below. A tiny serpent oozes out of the broken mess, one long and writhing body, two heads.
In a room high above the nest, a woman sleeps. The walls of the castle keep are too smooth for the serpent’s slick belly, but the vining ivy proves a perfect pathway to her window–or it would, had it not been cut so close.
The double-headed snake slithers its way along the vines and pauses near the window sill. The smell of life is strong here. It makes its way a little higher on the vine and then drops, aiming its body at the window ledge. It nearly falls to the ground far below, but it twists at the last minute and scoots along the edge of the grated screen.
Finding no easy way inside, the serpent stops to warm itself on the rock wall still full of heat from the day’s sun. Perhaps it has come far enough. But its instinct is strong, and it pushes along the screen again. Finding no holes, it presses hard, and the wooden frame comes away from the wall, just enough for the little beast to creep in.
It makes its way down the heavy curtain and across the floor, but it is weary now from so much effort. The serpent stops on the floor near the bed and falls asleep,
The woman also sleeps, soundly, having pulled on her helmet before laying her head on the pillow. This is not her habit, but tonight, a chilly wind blows and bears an ill will. She holds her sword in her hand. Intruders would find this maiden hard to handle.
The queen’s guard makes a silent pass through the bedroom, checking to see that all is well. He approaches the window to check the screen, and as he passes the foot of the bed, his bootheel connects with the serpent’s tiny heads. It dies without waking, without ever knowing it has lost.
Lady the Fearless sleeps on, dreaming of victories.
The castle “keep” was the ultimate fortified tower. Tall and thick and surrounded by a stone wall, equipped with weapons and designed for fighting, the keep gave the advantage to the defenders inside.
These towers were made with the understanding of attack, to “keep” the vulnerable ones safe, the ultimate refuge.
In the last post, I gave you a story about a maiden in a tower that was not a keep.
There were several elements to last week’s tale: a neglected castle yard, a tower covered in overgrown ivy, a wide open window, an unguarded bedroom, a vulnerable maiden, and a lying little snake.
In that post, I promised to share some of my strategies for slapping fear out of my head, for creating a different kind of story. Here they are:
I try to keep fear from ever getting in.
I believe that I have nothing to fear, that God loves me like crazy and works all things together for my good. This is not always a natural thought, so I get it in my mind as often as I can, reading scripture and listening to teachers like Joyce Meyer or Lisa Bevere or Graham Cooke.
I’m aware of how I tolerate dark entertainment or heavy conversations, etc. Sometimes, my tolerance is high. Other times, I need to walk away. Regardless of tolerance level, when negative things come in through the news, movies, conversations, or elsewhere, I make time to recharge.
I’m a pray-er. Is that a word? I don’t know, but I am one. The minute I sense anything weird, I say a quick prayer. Usually something like “Jesus help.” Sometimes, that’s all I’ve got.
Fear can grab us physically before we know it. Once in a while, just to check, I do a quick scan of my body. How’s my breathing? Deep breaths calm the body and mind. How tense are my shoulders? I consciously relax.
I meditate on scriptures, in my head or whispering if I have to, out loud if I can. I’m working on making a printable for you guys with paraphrases of these verses. When I figure out Dropbox, I’ll get it to you.
My friends help me think in a way that brings peace. I surround myself with an atmosphere of peace and guard my territory in any way I can. I have many friends from different walks of life, but the ones I spend the most time with encourage me in peace and strength.
Last, I rest. I take care of myself, mind, body and spirit. A worn out body drags behind and drains mental and emotional energy.
These are my strategies for keeping fear out, for keeping my castle. I’m not totally fearless every minute of every day, but I’m so much better than I used to be.
What strategy most resonates with you? What would you add? Love your ideas–see you in the comments!