Fear of the Deep

July 18, 2021by Petressa Israel

Deep Places

I have a fear of the deep. It’s not an irrational fear. It’s a fear that causes hesitation. It’s a fear of being unraveled and exposed, laid bare and known. People that know me, only know me to a certain depth and trust plays a key role in how deeply anyone can go. I think that comes from childhood and has become intensified by trauma. I tend to live in the shallow places, where only small parts of who I am are visible. It’s safer there…there’s always a quick escape. It’s easier to have a life full of casual acquaintances than to have deep meaningful relationships. The deep with both people and God requires investment unlike the shallow that costs nothing at all. I would rather not be seen, and I would rather not be heard or known. There’s only one problem with all of this. It’s not Christ like.


As I write this blog, it is my third attempt. It’s not that I don’t have something to say. Quite the contrary, I feel like there are volumes inside of me waiting to break out. My problem is that I can write a good paper with good ideas and good points but I’m hesitant to write much more than that. I don’t want to be unraveled by going deep. As I was driving home this week, I was talking to God about this blog. I asked Him what was wrong with it and why it just didn’t feel right. His response was, “Because it’s shallow.” So, I decided to rewrite it.


In 2018, my husband passed away from pancreatic cancer. We had been married twenty-eight years. I don’t know that I can fully express the depth of darkness his passing took me to. The first days are all a blur even the funeral too. Adrenalin drove me for weeks and months, trying to take care of paperwork and bills and keeping up with responding to people and making sure my kids were ok. All along, I couldn’t sleep and when I did the night terrors haunted me. I was having panic attacks, and I was triggered by every image of his last days. It would happen when I was driving and in stores and even when I was in church. When the flash backs would come, I would start to uncontrollably and hysterically cry. My body began to shut down and I was in constant physical pain too. I went to numerous doctors and specialists for the many things that were wrong, none of which had a quick answer to help me get better. Later, I realized that I had a form of PTSD, but only a few people knew how bad things really were.


In December of 2019, my best friend Tracy passed away from breast cancer. We had been friends for over ten years. She brought out the best in me. She was always pushing me out into the crowds making me talk. (However, I fondly called it throwing me in front of the bus.) She was full of life and never knew a stranger. She always said what was on her mind and never ever beat around the bush! The best part of our friendship was that we gave each other grace to just be little kids and have fun. My very best memories are hiking through the woods praying for the city, church, people and anything God laid on our hearts. We both had families, so we would have to meet at sunrise so that we could be back home with our families by lunch, but those five or six hours roaming around the city and mountain sides brought us more joy than we could even express. It dug deep wells with God that I will forever be grateful for. Tracy was one of several people that helped me navigate the trauma and grief when Tom passed away. Needless to say her death was just as agonizing for me. The loss of their two voices was deafening. The silence and void was more than I could stand.  When you lose people who you had deep relationships with, it makes you never want to go deep again. The pain is too unbearable.


Letting go is almost incomprehensible and being intentional with moving forward is even harder. Grief and loss and the trauma that comes with them don’t have a quick fix. There’s no way to quickly move on and get past it. We instead must just keep walking through the valley until we get to the other side. Staying close to God in the midst of it is imperative and having friends who will go with you to the deep places is life saving.


Psalm 42:7 says, Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”

Even in the midst of tragedy and loss the deep places of God are still calling out to the deep places in you. Don’t let loss of any kind be the only voice you hear…the only voice that has your attention. Don’t let loss keep you isolated. Lean in to close friends and don’t be afraid to be a close friend to others. Step out of the shallow places that the enemy has held you in. Be intentional in your pursuit of God and don’t be afraid of going deep. Trust Him.






Petressa Israel