Shards of Glass: Letting Go of Fear in the Grip of Pain

Jerusha Agen Fighting Fear 41 Comments

Jerusha: I’m delighted to welcome Shelli Littleton to the FW blog today! I was struck by the poetic beauty and depth of Shelli’s writing the first time I read her blog, so I’m thrilled she agreed to be my guest. She’s giving away TWO copies of her nonfiction book, A Gift Worth Keeping, to two of you who comment below. So read on and join the conversation!

By Shelli Littleton

Glass-broken (1280x850)Something pierces the inside of my cheek.

As I feel for the problem, piece after piece breaks apart. It’s not just one. More break apart, more crumble. Opening my mouth, I empty the multiplying fragments into my hands. Like shards of glass. With one sharp and shiny piece after another, my hands begin to fill. They never stop coming. So many. More than I can hold. I grasp for them.

My eyes open. Drops of sweat cover my body, and the sound of my heartbeat seemingly echoes through the room. The sage curtains flap against the French doors. The cat’s tail flops back and forth, protruding out from the lengthy fabric. The hum of the air conditioner soothes me. I hug the warmth of my white down comforter and release a held breath.

Nightmare. It was all a nightmare. Crumbling teeth. The same one I always have when life overwhelms me, when fear grips me. When I lose control, as though I possess any. When I cling too tightly to this life.

As I make my way into the hallway, my daughter greets me from the staircase. Her red-rimmed eyes sparkle with moisture. Her heart fills with longing. I know it does. She aches for her best friend who has moved away.

“It’ll be so long till I see him again,” she sobs. “Mom, I don’t know what to do.”

I’ve been where she is. I know the pain she’s feeling. “But you know the One who does,” I say.

I look over my precious one. Could that be a grin beginning to break? Her pain is one more issue added to my heavy heart. Life has never been easy, but since Christmas—when we discovered my husband has heart-breaking, heart-changing health issues—things have been hard. It’s real. His father passed away at fifty from similar heart-breaking issues.

woman-breaking-glass-of-perspective (1280x853)In the aftermath of realizing my husband’s issues, my own mortality overwhelms me, along with my loss of control. I begin to fear the nighttime, when anxiety grips me. My side hurts, some joints hurt. A pain in the center of my chest wakes me like a slap to the face some nights. What’s wrong with me? Am I dying? Do I have heart-changing issues, too? My mind considers the worst in the night.

Fear. All fear.

“I don’t want to die,” I cry out to God through those dark moments. “Not yet. I want to live to see my children grown and married … happy. I don’t want to miss out on this life. I don’t want to miss out on my children and their children. Please, let us live, Father.”

As I clinch my fists, the shards of glass press into my palms. Cutting, broken, doubling-over pain. Heart-bleeding agony.

My focus returns to my daughter’s eyes. How long has it been since I feared the worst over her? I remind her every year, since her tiny days, that she’s adopted. But I wonder, in those early days, when she really realizes it, when she’s old enough to truly understand, will she still love me? Will the mama that I am be enough for her? Will she trust God’s plan for her life?

I breathe a little easier, and the fragrance of my daughter’s Paris body spray fills the surrounding air. Her sweet face presses into my shoulder. Moisture soaks into my shirt, down to my skin. I pat her back and tuck the long, silky strands of chestnut hair behind her ear. I pull away. My hands slide down to hers. I smile.

When-anxiety-was-great-graphicThe sunshine is beginning to rise and beam out of her face.

My smile grows.

“Oh, no,” she says.

“Oh, yes.”

I twirl her out. She glides on her socked feet across the wood floor, her gown flowing behind her, as I twirl her back in. She giggles. Her arms wrap around me. She doesn’t let go.

“Mama, you are my favorite person in the whole world.”

And as love bubbles to the top, surfacing in triumph over fear, my hands relax and my fingers begin to ease apart. I don’t know how to handle the hard parts of this life, but O Soul Within, you know The One who does.

The shards of glass slip and pierce into the hands of my loving Savior, again and again.

When you’re fearful, do you struggle in releasing the broken pieces to God? How has the Lord encouraged you to let go of fear and all that it entails?

Shelli LittletonShelli-Littleton (664x1000) lives on the outskirts of Rockwall, Texas, in a little house on a county road.

LifeWay published her first article in 2007, and since then, she’s written for Woman’s Missionary Union, interviewing missionaries at home and abroad and sharing their stories in Missions Mosaic magazine.

She speaks on surviving hardships, out of her testimony that she tucked into her non-fiction work, A Gift Worth Keeping.

Her love for writing has encouraged her to dip every toe into the waters of fiction, and she’s written 3 novels. Her heart’s desire is to work toward publication. But in the meantime, she prays that love always conquers fear in her life.

Shelli invites you to join her on social media, especially Instagram—her favorite place to share her life, her dreams, and her home, along with her two teenage girls, two sheep, and three cats.

You can also find Shelli on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and at her website.

Shelli-Littleton-book-cover-largerShelli is giving away TWO paperback copies of A Gift Worth Keeping! Leave a comment below for a chance to win! (Winner randomly selected Aug. 28. Winner must have Continental U. S. mailing address.)

Hardships are gifts allowed by God. Although it may seem hard to believe at times, remember James 1:17—“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Unquestionably, hardships fit miraculously into that every “good and perfect” category as well, even though their appearance is often dreadful and hiding or exchanging them would seem to be ideal. In A Gift Worth Keeping, author Shelli Littleton shows you how, given a chance, they can change you from the inside out and cause you to love and cling to God with all your might. When you do this, He can use your personal testimony to comfort others.

Littleton explores the ways you can use those special gifts to their optimal power. You can learn how to avoid Satan’s downward spiral and jump on God’s upward one, how to differentiate between the godly mirror and the worldly one, and how to be a living display of God’s love. Most importantly, Littleton shows you how to be thankful for those hardships.

A Gift Worth Keeping can help you realize your hardships fit perfectly with your décor and can become the greatest assets to your ministry.


Comments 41

    1. Shelli Littleton

      Damon, thank you. We really are messes at times, but I’m so thankful we can laugh at our messes. God knew exactly what I needed when He gave me these sweet girls. Today, they were reminding me about an episode of The Flintstones where I laughed so hard … melted my heart to know that they remember what made me laugh so hard. God has us.

    2. Post
      Jerusha Agen

      Congratulations, Damon! You’ve been randomly selected to win a copy of Shelli’s book, A Gift Worth Keeping! I’ll contact you via email with more details. Thanks for entering the giveaway!

    1. Shelli Littleton

      Anne, thank you so much. I was thinking this morning how I’m so quick to internalize the pain, instead of allowing the broken pieces to fall into my Savior’s hands. At my age, you’d think I’d know better. It’s always an internal battle. Your comment is a blessing.

    1. Shelli Littleton

      Emily, thank you so much. It’s just hard sometimes. I had a major issue tackle me over the weekend … I woke up several times through the night shaking uncontrollably. I have to talk myself into peace … over and over.

  1. Rickye Pool

    I love your servant’s heart, Shelli. Thank you for always pointing us to the One who loves us so unconditionally. I pray for your husband’s health and all your family!

    1. Shelli Littleton

      Aww, Ms. Rickye! What a blessing you’ve given me. Thank you for praying. His medication has really helped to improve his heart. He’s come so far since January. He’s able to work longer outside. His strength is returning, and we are so thankful. So much love to you.

    1. Shelli Littleton

      Yes, Wendy Mac. You know how when a kid gets hurt, and they refuse to be comforted? No matter how many times you try to wrap your arms around them, they kick and refuse. I think that’s me sometimes. He tries to wrap His arms around me, and I choose the painful road instead. It doesn’t even seem like a choice at times … your body just reacts. All I know is that I want His peace. 🙂

    2. Post
      Jerusha Agen

      Thanks for stopping by, Wendy! I’m so thankful that God gifted and led Shelli to write this beautiful post. I’m grateful for the reminder of where true comfort is to be found, too.

  2. Helene

    I have “stress dreams” too. Mostly in them I am terribly late or have forgotten something terribly important. May God grant you peace past all understanding as well as grace as you face heart-breaking changes.

    1. Shelli Littleton

      Helene, your comment means so much. Thank you. I want that peace over and over again. I was thinking earlier today how I finally started feeling like I was recovering from everything. And then another stressor occurs over the weekend. I don’t want to take so long this time to take hold of the peace that is mine.

  3. Angie Quantrell

    Shelli, I had no idea about the issues you are facing. I’ve also had those dreams where my teeth fall out. Talk about anxiety! But you say it so eloquently. Thank you for sharing with us. Hugs and prayers!

    1. Post
      Jerusha Agen

      Congratulations, Angie! You’ve been randomly selected to win a copy of Shelli’s book, A Gift Worth Keeping! I’ll contact you via email with more details. Thanks for entering the giveaway!

      1. Angie Quantrell

        Yay! Thanks so much! I can’t wait to read your book, Shelli! Thanks, Jerusha, for hosting her. Hugs and prayers! P.S. Beautiful website Jerusha! Looks like my reading list just got longer!

        1. Post
  4. Shelli Littleton

    Jerusha, you are such a sweetheart. Thank you again for having me today. When we don’t think we can do something, I love how God pushes us in the right direction, reminding us that, yes, we can. We can do whatever He needs us to do. Thank you for blessing me.

    1. Post
      Jerusha Agen

      Thank YOU for blessing me, Shelli! I’m honored you agreed to be my guest this week and so thankful for the powerful post the Lord led and equipped you to write. Yes, I love that we can do all things through Him who gives us strength! Thank you for ministering through your vulnerable, beautiful words–an encouragement to me and others.

  5. gene kiepura

    Shelli, You already know that God really is good, and sometimes we just need to recognize that He has a place in His lap for us. Crawl up there and let Him love and comfort you.

    1. Shelli Littleton

      Yes, Gene. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Mt 11:29).” That’s the first thing that your words brought to my mind. You’re a blessing.

  6. Deborah

    So thankful! This was the first time reading your blog; what an inspiration and a blessing to me! I am a forever reader now; Iove your writing style, and yes, I have seen many as an editor. So very transparent; I love that and such an encouragement to me to be so as well.
    My first marriage did not end well. The stress of the day usually manifested itself in me grinding my teeth in my sleep.

    God is good, though, and has blessed me with a man after His heart and we have a ministry together, now. All glory to Him!!

  7. Jeanne Takenaka

    Shelli, another beautiful post. Fear has been my companion many times through the years. As I grow older, I’m learning to turn those fearful thoughts over to the Lord more quickly. One verse I often pray is: “When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

    Our Father holds us close, dances with us, even in the hard seasons. Praying for your family my friend.

    1. Shelli Littleton

      Yes, Jeanne … and when it’s so rough, I often find myself turning over thoughts second after second, praying that Scripture through the night. And Father, help me to cling only to you … the only substance that won’t slip through my fingers.

  8. Katie Sanders

    Your vivid writing placed me in the heart of this moving scene, Shelli. Thank you for honestly sharing your pain AND the comfort you’ve found!

    1. Shelli Littleton

      Katie, thank you so much. I was telling Jerusha that this is the first time I’ve publicly shared of our circumstances. It was beyond time. And I just needed God to nudge me out there a little. I appreciate you. Thank you for the blessing.

  9. Mary Kay Moody

    What a beautiful and tender story, Shelli. So like God to give a message of grace through a nightmarish season. I’ve never dreamed of my teeth falling out like you have (and, wow, what an image you paint with words). I have dreamed of looking through a window and having it explode into my face, though. And when I learned some frightening medical news & fear clawed at me. as I climbed into bed I imagined climbing onto Jesus’ lap and Him rocking me like a baby. Thanks for sharing and the reminder that He is so close. Will be praying for you and your family.

    Thank you, Jerusha, for sharing this with us. May God bless you courageous ladies.

    1. Post
      Jerusha Agen

      I pray that God blesses you, too, Mary! Thank you for joining this conversation in such a personal way. I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through a hard time. Praise the Lord for drawing you to Shelli’s post for comfort! I’ll pray for you as you go through this situation, that God will give YOU great courage to face what’s ahead.

    2. Shelli Littleton

      Mary Kay, thank you so much for your encouraging words. I don’t like that I can’t control my mind through the night. When I wake up, I quote Scripture and tell myself truth, over and over. Till I calm. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does … ugh. I’m so thankful that truth overcomes all else. Thank you for blessing me with your sweet comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *