I read the headline while scrolling through Facebook, State Finds Alarmingly High Arsenic, Cadmium Levels Near Two SE Portland Schools. I clicked on the link and panic set in, my heart was racing. The school listed was our school, the business emitting toxic levels of cadmium and arsenic is in our neighborhood. I finish the article feeling rage, fear, and uncertainty. Our world is already a giant mess and now in my own back yard I’m worrying about my kids health as well as ours. We live in a country that I expect to protect us from harms such as this but even that is too high of an expectation these days.
All I could picture was my kids playing in the dirt in our yard, eating out of our “organic” garden that now is probably laced with these chemicals, all of us being outdoors breathing in this terrible air. So being the rational, calm human that I am I exclaimed to my husband, “We’re moving! We can’t live in this mess of a city anymore!” Being the level headed one he assured me that we didn’t need to move, quite yet.
As I drove to pick up Isaac from school my heart and mind were racing with the “what if’s.” In the midst of all of the swirling mass of crazy happening in my brain it came to me very clearly, “What will you choose? Faith or fear?” My mind stopped and I had to ask myself that question over and over. What will I choose? I actually have a choice here. Even though there are things happening around us and possibly to us thanks to the negligence of our legislature and harmful business, I have a choice to choose faith and not fear. God is still there in the midst of the mess. He didn’t cause it. He doesn’t approve of it. But He is there and He is trustworthy. I can choose to put my faith in Him.
I was reminded of a talk by Tim Keller (I think) where he said that worrying is a choice. It’s a way that we think we can control situations even if it’s just in our minds. We can conjure up situations, possible solutions and outcomes with our worry. When I choose to set that down, let God take it and do with it what He will then I release the power that it has over me.
We took our kids to be tested to see if they have elevated levels of cadmium and arsenic in their systems. I had to have the piece of mind and want it on record that we tested them in case somewhere in the future something does come up with health issues. At one point my kids left the room and the doctor stayed to give me information. Before she could even talk her eyes welled with tears and she apologized that she was having a hard time not crying about the situation that we were in. She continued to tell me the increased risk of cancer that these toxins cause. The mention of cancer causes my heart to sink. I’ve often told my husband, watching my children go through cancer is one of my biggest fears.
We left the clinic with me in tears because of the fear I felt. It came to me again, “What will you choose? Faith or fear?”
Just because I choose to have faith doesn’t mean that we can’t take action as parents, as neighbors, and as advocates for change. You better believe that we’ll attend meetings about our air quality, we’ll sign petitions and write letters to our legislators to change the laws that don’t protect us. We’ll speak out for our children who don’t have a voice yet. We’ll seek change. I don’t have to sit back and be idle while still choosing faith.
No matter what the situation, a new job opportunity, a health scare, a hard relationship, the unknown in life, we all have the choice, faith or fear. What will it be?
I’m choosing to remind myself daily that I don’t have to fear bad news but can confidently trust the Lords care for me (and my children) (Psalm 112:7) and that He goes before and behind me (Psalm 139:5). It’s a daily battle to choose faith over fear but with God’s help I can do it, one fear at a time.