Prologue: Irrational Fears, You Say?
I’m scared of spiders. My brothers and cousins once made me watch Arachnaphobia. I still scan for spiders before I take a shower. The other day, there was an unusual spider on my wall. I wanted to find out what kind of spider it was, but I didn’t want Google to bombard me with gigantic images of spiders. So I just squished it with my flip-flop and moved on with my life. If I had followed through on asking the Internet, you know where that would have lead, right? They’d link the search to my Facebook feed and add to my YouTube app. “We thought you might like this article about how big spiders are in Australia.” Umm…..no…I just want some information so I can protect my kids. Thanks.
It’s All Your Fault, Band Geeks!
In the year 1997, a marching band left an awards ceremony after an enjoyable and successful band trip. It was already dark and it was going to be a long drive back home. Most band members were already slouched in their bus seats, crashing off of pure competition adrenaline. There wasn’t much opportunity for due process while the self-proclaimed VCR leaders decided which movie to pop in for the last leg of the trip. It wasn’t long into the movie before I realized what was happening. I tried to go to sleep. I tried to put on my CD player and listen to the music over the movie, but it was no use. It sucked me in. Wes Craven’s Scream still holds an unnecessary amount of trauma over my life. I have never liked scary movies, and if I had gotten a chance to protest on that band trip, chances are I wouldn’t have, because I was the kid that didn’t like to challenge the popular crowd. Every year at Halloween I see that famed mask and all the fear comes back. Whenever my mom-xiety kicks in and I imagine an intruder prowling around my house, that mask comes to mind, and I go down a rabbit hole of fear.
The Fear I Sense is Rational. She Will Believe It.
I always thought that I had a lot of fear to battle. When I became a Christian I learned that God commands us to have no fear. I didn’t know anything about spiritual warfare until soon after my daughter was born. I was a new mom, my baby was about 4- months old, and my husband and I had recently begun attending church again after a long hiatus. I was washing dishes and suddenly, I heard a small whisper. I ignored it at first, brushed it off, and continued my task. Then the voice became more urgent. “Take the baby and run!” it said. The voice grew louder and louder until it was booming and I couldn’t shake it. I was terrified. It seemed so close. So honest. So believable. I woke my baby from her nap, strapped her to me in the carrier and ran out of my apartment. I called my mom. I didn’t know what was happening. I told her to come and get me. I convinced myself that God was protecting me from something and that I was running from something extremely sinister. Come to think of it, that stupid Scream mask may have popped up in my brain that day as well. After the incident, I was talking to my mother-in-law. “That wasn’t God,” she said. “God doesn’t operate that way.” She then quoted the scripture from 2 Timothy “For God has not given us a spirit of fear…” It was an eye-opening experience. I had no idea that fear was trying to take hold of me, probably because of my recent re-dedication to God. Amazing how the enemy can build up past fears and use them to attack us when he is angry about losing sinners to Christ. That moment in my past has shaped me into who I am now, and I am so grateful for all I learned from it.
Have No Fear, Mom Friends
When you become a mom the list of your fears can multiply. You aren’t just scared for things in the present, like for example, worrying that your kids will tumble down concrete stairs, or come home from school with head lice. No. Your brain generates fears for every milestone for the next 18+ years, and if you have more than one child, well…you get the point. This is normal though. As mothers we have been created with a highly sensitive desire to care and nurture. It is quite the burden to bear and it leaves us susceptible to fear. But God never intended us to be afraid or to carry such a burden from raising our children. Not all fear comes from the devil. A Pastor’s wife told me, “You never want to give the devil any attention, even if he deserves it.” Don’t give him any focus to thrive on, because that draws away from God. Our God promises that He is our refuge. As a mother of two, I can’t resist a reference to Disney’s Frozen. What was Elsa’s biggest enemy? It wasn’t Hans or the soldiers that were coming after her. It was fear that she created herself. Her inner turmoil had the potential to consume her. She conquered that fear through love. We can conquer our fear through Christ who loves us more than anything.
The verse from 2 Timothy has saved me from giving into fear countless times, but in the world we live in, it doesn’t take a lot to distract me and forget God’s promises and all He has delivered me from in the past. That is why we need to constantly turn to God and keep reminding ourselves that fear does not control us. Yes, it is exhausting, but with persistence comes habit, and if you make it a habit not to fear, you will find peace. Turn off the news and take a break from Facebook. Most of the time fear can sneak up on us, because of the media’s agenda to sell doom and gloom. Or maybe the wrong thing pops up on your computer without your permission. Don’t leave yourself open for that. Saturate yourself in the other things that can erase your fear. It isnt appropriate to call it “Netflix and chill” if it is chilling you in the wrong way. Re-evaluate what you binge watch. Go to prayer and the Word, first and foremost. Then try other tactics to release you from the feeling of fear. Take your family on a walk somewhere scenic and enjoy the fresh air. Read a classic chapter book that you enjoyed when you were in grade school. Immerse yourself in your children’s innocent jokes and jubilant laughter. Journal all of your blessings. Connect with other moms and share your anxieties and support each other. You are not alone.
It can seem hypocritical to have all of this pent up fear and try to teach your children that they shouldn’t be afraid. My children are just beginning to learn what fear is. Whenever they are scared, my husband and I ask them what angels always say, and they respond “Do not be afraid.” They know this, because we read the Bible to them every night. It is effective most of the time. This way when we say “There is nothing to fear,” we have plenty of evidence to back it up, rather than brushing it off with an expectation for them to grow up and deal with it. By raising our kids in the truth it reminds us to follow our own advice. Do not fear, because God is with us.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4