Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fear death? Flying? Rollercoasters? Heights? Find peace.

By Jo Ann Durgin 

Do you remember the first time you felt afraid? I mean really afraid? I do. Even though I was barely over a year old, I can recall my entire house shaking—photos on the wall rattling and my crib moving across the floor—and the sheer panic I experienced. It was coming. That big old scary monster called a train.

When I heard the ear-piercing, loud whistle announcing its approach, I just knew that monster was coming to get me. What I find interesting is my reaction to that panic. Instead of cowering in my crib and screaming to get out, I didn’t even cry. What did I do? I somehow propelled myself over the bars of my crib and onto the hardwood floor and then ran into my parents’ room. My dad once told me this went on for months. I never cried but just climbed in and curled up beside him. It was there I found my safe place, my comfort and protection. To this day, though, I’m not scared of trains.

As I’ve gotten older, like many people, I’ve become more afraid of heights. Not that I was ever overly fond of them. When I visit a very tall building and travel to the observation deck, I usually hesitate to go to the outside railing or wall. Although fascinated by the beautiful view from atop something so high up in the air, it makes me realize how small I am in the world when I look down from a dizzying height. Is it the fear of being up so high or the fear of falling? I’m not afraid to fly in a plane and it’s actually one of my favorite things in life—that feeling of power and speed as that magnificent, manmade bird lifts off the ground and soars into the air. In the case of an airplane, though, I have something around me to protect me.

On the flip side, roller coasters scare me to death. I’ve always avoided them until I decided to try Space Mountain at Disney World many years ago. Disney represents safety and security, right? Mickey and Winnie wouldn’t steer me wrong. I actually loved it (but still won’t ever go on another roller coaster), but I think it’s because it’s dark in Space Mountain and you can experience the speed and the ups and downs yet not see what lies beyond it. So, is it the fear of falling or the fear of what’s out there?

The bad things in our life sharpen and refine us and, in the end, they make us stronger. As difficult as it was, I wouldn’t be the same person today if I hadn’t gone through those trials. But in working through the pain and finding the truth, I’ve learned that God has everything under His control. We have to put our trust in Him to work out the details. That’s hard for a lot of people, and I’m so thankful I found Him. I guess I should say I’m blessed He found me. I am His child, and that knowledge gave me such an unbelievable comfort when I needed it most and felt as if I was truly all alone in the world. His love was my security blanket to wrap around me. He’s a God of everyday miracles and He certainly worked several in my life. 

Writing my latest novel, Catching Serenity took me through a gamut of emotions—a roller coaster of ups, downs and all-arounds. As much as any character I’ve ever written, Serenity McClaren has faced a lot of issues in her life, including profound loss and rejection. So many times in penning her story, I paused and wondered how I would react given identical circumstances. Honestly? A few times, I couldn’t presume to know how I’d personally react. But it made me think, and as much as anything else, I want my readers to think while still being entertained. As much as the issues we face, it’s our response to events and people that matters and shapes our life


Serenity has been through so much yet she’s much stronger than she realizes. She’s been deeply hurt by circumstances in her life that might cause many people to turn away from God. Before these things happened, she didn’t know the Lord. What’s interesting is that she finds Him in the midst of working through her pain. Some might wonder how she could praise a God who allowed bad things to happen? She ran away from home because she couldn’t stand the sadness, the loneliness and the pain. But as the story opens, she’s come back home to stare her fears in the face. Bolstered by her new and fragile faith, she recognizes the only way she’ll be able to truly live again with purpose and meaning is to conquer her fears and work through the pain.

Dr. Jackson Ross is falling in love with Serenity. He also recognizes that until she finds answers to what happened to send her running away from home, she won’t be free to love him. Then he unlocks the key to her past and discovers the shocking truth. Have you ever had a secret you were dying to tell someone but couldn’t for whatever reason? Within Jackson’s grasp is the key to setting her free from her past. However, sworn and bound by ethics and professional standards, he can’t tell her. Jackson’s greatest fear? He’ll lose Serenity’s friendship and love no matter what he does. A believer for a number of years, Jackson turns to the only One he knows can shoulder his burden and give him the desires of his heart. 

Ultimately, I believe it’s all about trust. The theme verse in Catching Serenity is Psalms 18:2 says: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Have you ever had a time in your life when you’ve had to stare down fears or forces you felt were working against you? What was your reaction and the outcome? I’d encourage you to ponder that today with the knowledge there’s no greater comfort than that which comes from the One who laid down His very life for you and for me. 

Many blessings, friends, and many thanks to Ada Brownell for allowing me to share a bit about Catching Serenity with you.

Matthew 5:16

Catching Serenity is JoAnn Durgin’s fifth full-length novel. The author of The Lewis Legacy Series and Christmas novellas, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and its sequel, Starlight, Star Bright, she’s an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm and lives in southern Indiana. Visit her at or via her Author JoAnn Durgin page on Facebook.