My son 3 year old Micah is given to fearfulness. In the summertime, it’s bees. With the warmer weather we’ve had recently, he asks me every morning and every time we go outside, “Are the bees alive yet, Mom?” In the colder months, it’s fears of ghosts, wolves, or the toilet jumping up to get him while he’s peeing. It’s easy to chuckle and reassure him, but as his mom, I see what havoc fear wreaks in his little life. And I see in this some profound spiritual lessons on a bigger scale in my own life.
Even though most of his fears seem irrational, I can relate 100% to Micah’s feelings in these situations. I have a long-standing battle with fear in my own life. God helped me chip away at some of it when he gave me Sophie. Something happens to your fear when you face one of your worst fears and survive, even grow stronger because of it. That’s another tale for another day… As time has passed, I have seen the enemy begin to try and manipulate me again through fear. Sometimes I think God gave me Micah and made him so much like me just so that I could relearn all the life lessons. We are two peas in a pod, Micah and I. In almost all of his battles, I see myself. His little life is like a mirror for all my own faults! And so it has been in his battle with fear. I have seen my own battle. But it’s eye-opening to see someone else fighting your same battle. Things snap quickly into perspective. As Micah deals with fear, I can quickly pick out the ways that fear is negatively impacting him and also myself.
Fear immobilizes. My son won’t go anywhere without me, or without his big sissy as my stand-in. Our home is small, but he won’t go from one room to the next, even if he can clearly see me in a different room. And forget about going upstairs to the bathroom or to his bedroom. He can’t move forward when he’s afraid. How often have I allowed fear to immobilize me? How many times has my journey halted simply because I’m too afraid to take the next steps? For me this is most often the fear that I’m going to make the wrong choice, so I just don’t make any choice at all. I’m immobilized. Just sitting there are the crossroads, doing nothin.
Fear controls. Not only can Micah not move freely when he’s fearful, but his activities are also determined by his fears. Many of his choices are based upon his fears. He won’t go into the dining room, where the wood floors are bare, to race his cars, because I’m in the living room, on the carpet. He won’t obey or be my helper because he’s too afraid of what I might ask him to do, or what might happen to him along the way. How have I allowed fear to control me? I’m too afraid of what God might ask me to do if I agree to obey and be his helper. I’m too afraid of what might happen to me along the way. I’m too afraid that I might fail, if I try. And I’m too afraid of the judgment that others might assign to me if I don’t measure up in their eyes.
Fear creates misery. If Micah even thinks I’m leaving the room, he begins to get upset instantly. We’re talking zero to sixty in 1.5 seconds. I can hear panic rise in his voice as he hurries to avoid being left behind, even if I’m just stepping into the next room for a moment. And in the event that he is left somewhere alone in our home, he comes undone. He doesn’t enjoy his day because he’s so fearful. This is the big one for my life: How have I allowed fear to strip away my joy? Instead of rejoicing in the blessings of my life, my mind is running rampant with fears and what-ifs. If I even catch whiff of something going amiss, I can feel my own panic rising.
Although this battle is not what it used to be for me, and, praise God, I am not nearly as controlled by fear as I used to be, I still see in myself the battle that Micah is beginning at just three years old. What I see in Micah has helped me to realize again that fear is a tool of the enemy intended to immobilize us, control us, and make us miserable. Our enemy doesn’t want us moving forward in our faith or in our ministry. He doesn’t want us to move freely, to enjoy our activities, to live our lives in abandon, secure in our Father’s love.
Something that I often say to Micah resonates in my spirit as well: “Why are you so afraid? Mommy is taking care of you. You are safe in our home,” I know God would say the same to me: Why is she so afraid? Doesn’t she know that I’m taking care of her? She is safe in my love. I John 4:18 promises that perfect love drives out fear. I think that’s the key. If we could really grasp how much God loves us, then we would be able to trust completely that no matter what happens, it’s going to be ok. And we don’t need to be frozen at the crossroads, or fearful of what he may ask us to do, or running in anxious circles mentally. If we really understood how deeply and how perfectly the Father loves us, we would recognize that we don’t need to be afraid. We are secure in his care. That doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen, unfortunately, but it does mean that his goodness will prevail even in the bad things, and that we are always, always, always secure in his love.
I remember when Sophie’s journey first began, one of the things her pediatrician said to me that was so simple, yet has stuck with me all the way was this: “It will all be ok.” At the time that was rather maddening because how could anything be ok when my baby girl could have some life-altering or life-threatening disease or disorder? How could it be ok?! But, six years later, I have seen that truly, it is ok. As I referenced earlier, I faced that fear, and I walked head on into it. I had no choice in the matter. Face like flint is the expression that comes to mind as I recall my journey into fearful territory with Sophie. “Welcome to motherhood, please step directly into the fire, Catherine.” But as in Sophie’s journey, I cannot assure you more, no matter what your journey looks like right now, it will all be ok. I know that I know that I know my Father loves me and he loves Sophie. So no matter the things in life that most assuredly do go very wrong, will go very wrong, God remains constant, faithful, good. His deep and perfect love holds us. So we can set our faces like flint, and we can step directly into the fire if we have to. Because he is there, he will be there. And he will keep us secure in his perfect love. In this we can walk free from fear.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You are mine.”