About a year ago, I bought this box of totally fantastic, golden-with-chocolate-cream Oreo cookies. Psyched doesn’t even begin to describe it. And since my go-to is baking cookies, buying them isn’t part of the normal routine.
Not dramatically so, but a little outside my usual. A little outside my comfort zone.
We’d lived in our apartment for just over a month, and I had yet to fill all of the kitchen’s cabinets and nooks. So I slid the Oreos in an empty drawer. Planning to eat them tomorrow, the drawer seemed like a safe place.
The next afternoon, Mr. S. called me to it. “Sarah,” he said, “how did you open these Oreos?”
Defiant, I rushed over. No, husband, I did not open them. We’re saving them! Special snack! With TV! Remember?
And that was when I saw it: nibbles. In. The. Packaging.
Mice, Mr. S. said.
Mice! The nerve! Eat something else, whatever, but Oreos? My sweet Oreos? No way, Mice. No way. Half creeped out and half angry, I bid the Oreos adieu. Into the trash they went.
Long story short, we bought a mouse trap, Mr. S. set it up and he won the battle. The mice have made no attempts at returning.
I’ve still been afraid. So afraid, in fact, that it’s been over a year since I’ve touched Oreos.
Fear: it’s a powerful emotion. One bad experience and bam, fear makes its homes in our hearts. Uninvited, a rude and awful houseguest. Fear stops us from walking forward, running forward, dancing forward, leaping forward. Fear cripples. Fear crushes.
Fear stops us from much more than simply buying Oreos. Fear stops us from seizing our potential.
A simple tweet caught my eye yesterday: it was the Oreo cookie’s 100th birthday. Inspired by this monumental event, I bought a package. Not double-stuf, not vanilla-chocolate combo or whatever. Just standard Oreos. Seemed safer.
One year. I’d let one mouse rob me of one year of them. For a year, I’d let the mouse win. Funniest of all? He’s dead. He’s been dead for a year and I still let the little guy haunt me. Ridiculous, I know.
But how often do we let fear rob us? How often do we let our fears haunt us? How often do we let fear get in our way? How often do we surrender our lives to these fears, dead or alive? How often do we idolize fear and put it on the throne?
Mr. S. and I shared Oreos last night. With milk, obviously. They were amazing and delicious. Just like I anticipated, just like I remembered. Those crunchy chocolate cookies paired with that white don’t-even-want-to-know-what’s-in-it filling . . . I had forgotten how much I liked them.
As of this morning, no mouse has dared go near these sweet Oreos. Sweet victory.
In a bigger-than-mice, bigger-than-Oreos way, how often do we let that fear stop us? How often do we let that fear stop us from doing what is good? What is meaningful? What is right? What is a blessing? What is scary? What is daring?
One mouse – one bad experience – ought not to stop us from doing what we are meant to do. Fear comes from so many directions. Maybe fear comes from a sideways glance, or a sarcastic word. Maybe fear comes from an ally turned enemy, or a success turned failure. Maybe fear comes from a rejection or a promise broken.
Everything in life is a risk. To not take that risk is to let the mice win. To not take that risk is to let the fear win. To not take that risk is to ignore glory and grace.
So go. Do the big thing and stand up straight and plow past the fear. Run past the fear. Look not at the fear, but above it and past it. Stand strong and shine bright.
Mice are always going to try to get into your Oreos. But that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the cookies.
(Photo credit: my oreos, taken with my iPhone.)