14. Frightened By Flaming Arrows!

“The adventurous life is not one exempt from fear,
 but on the contrary one that is 
 In full knowledge of fears of all kinds,
 one in which we go forward in spite of our fears.”
— Paul Tournier 


It’s hard to face the world on a daily basis when you are timid. My mother knew that from first-hand experience.  As a teenager, despite her fearful nature, she managed to carve out a place for herself in the small town where she was raised.  As a majorette, she strutted ahead of the high school band and was accepted by the popular crowd.  And at the tender age of 17, she became engaged to her own Prince Charming.

But in 1952, all of that suddenly changed in a dramatic way.  My grandmother called an end to the engagement, cut my mother’s prom photo in half — effectively cutting the young man of her dream’s out of the equation — and moved their family of three from the Midwest to California, leaving behind most of my mother’s memorabilia in the closet of an aunt, who eventually got rid of it all.

Into her new home, my mother brought her fearful nature, along with buried anger, bitterness, and grief. She finished her senior year among strangers.  Shortly after that she met and married a young Marine, who also carried with him significant mental and emotional baggage. He had joined the military at age 17 and was deployed to Korea to fight in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir — a decisive engagement against the Chinese where only 385 survived out of 2500 men. My dad had endured the assault and carnage for nearly three weeks in freezing weather and would become one of the band of brothers who would go down in history as “The Frozen Chosin.”

I was born into a culture that did not allow a father to witness the birth of his child. My mother suffered alone through a very difficult labor and delivery, attended only by a cranky Navy nurse, who tied Mom’s hands to the bed rails with rags. There were no anesthetics at the time to ease the pain that exploded within her as I entered the world — unaware of the forces in play, which would over time shape my personality and character.

“Back in the day,” things like that weren’t talked about. So whenever I was dismissed by grown-ups for asking questions concerning such things as reproduction, their rebuffs left me struggling with embarrassment, unresolved curiosity, and eventually … depression.

Now I understand why adults behaved in the ways that they did. I’ve also figured out why so many of them turned out — for better or worse — the way they did. Now I can laugh when my granddaughter respectfully tells me, “Nana, I don’t think you get it.” Because I do get it. 

American culture of the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s did not allow “big people” to say, “I don’t know,” when “little people” caught them off-guard with uncomfortable questions. They considered our queries on par with flaming arrows that threatened to undermine the sandy foundations on which they had built their lives. I thank God for the 80’s and 90’s, because that’s when I began learning how to defend myself with the shield of faith against unforeseen enemies.

I just wish I’d known all of this much earlier in my journey.


“Take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows
of the evil one.”

(Ephesians 6:16)


Is there someone in your past, present, or possibly your future whom you need to better understand and forgive? Spend time opening your mind to the One who created you. Tell Him about the people who have hurt you. Ask Him to give you perspective into each situation. Then move forward in the assurance that He has heard you and will respond to your prayer. (Consider the wisdom of David in Psalm 15.)