See that cutie toddler up there working it for the camera? That joyful smile? That innocence? That is perfection right there. I have loved watching this little one grow, but one thing that breaks my heart is to see some of that innocence stripped away in tiny bits as she gets older and more aware of the world around her. Sure we want there to be a level of “healthy fear” when it comes to things that could hurt her (like diving off the couch headfirst ha), but it’s painful to see her start to develop other fears that seem unreasonable if it weren’t for human nature.
Anniston has always been an amazing sleeper. We tuck her in, turn the lights off, and she falls asleep on her own. However, a couple months ago she developed a fear of the dark out of nowhere and it made bedtime VERY difficult for a few nights. We tried different approaches. We looked around her room in the light and explained there was nothing that could hurt her. We talked about the baby monitor and how mommy and daddy are watching over her. We also tried explaining that Jesus is ALWAYS watching over her and that she never has to fear. I’m not sure what finally did it, but she got over it after a few days and started falling asleep easily again (insert all the praise hands for the tired parents in the room).
She still doesn’t like to go into rooms without the lights on during the day and we are working on that, but it brought to mind how much we struggle with fear. As a grown adult, being scared of the dark seems a little silly. But then I think of some of the fears I have struggled with and they too could be considered silly; especially when I claim to have trust in the Lord.
This week we are coming up on the anniversary of my dad leaving this earth four years ago. There are a lot of things I could talk about when it comes to grief, but one of the things I struggled with was the fear that came out of it. I had a lot of peace after my dad passed because I knew without a shadow of a doubt he was with Jesus and no longer in pain. Because of that peace it took me awhile to realize my new fears were birthed out of the grief I was experiencing. I’ll give you a quick peek into just two of the big fears I struggled with.
All of a sudden I just KNEW Miles was going to get in a car crash and die. I was just waiting on the call. I got a little (a lot) crazy about making him drive extra safe and texting or calling me when he got places. We laugh now about my “plan” for what I would do if I lost him, but I truly started planning for it because the fear was so real to me.
I also just KNEW I was going to struggle with infertility or experience a miscarriage as we started moving into the season of praying for a baby. I know the pain from infertility and miscarriage is very real so I am not trying to make light of it, I’m just expressing how much this fear gripped me and how much I truly believed these lies.
The point of all this craziness is to share with you how I have come to fight these fears and to maybe help you as well. I don’t want to live a life of fear and I want to be equipped to help my girls overcome their fears as they get older and can understand the comfort only their Heavenly Father can bring. I’m not saying bad things won’t happen. They absolutely will. But I want to be prepared to fight through those things and come out on the other side stronger, not more afraid.
“He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:2-4
Psalm 23 is a very well known piece of scripture and is known as “The Lord is My Shepherd”. Sometimes I think these well known verses can be glossed over and we don’t always receive the truth coming out of them. The Psalmist, David, not only says “he guides me along the right paths”, but he continues with “even though I walk through the darkest valley”. I make a point of this because the even though the paths the Lord has for you that are “right”, they may not be all sunshine the whole way through. We will experience those dark valleys. BUT how we carry ourselves through those dark valleys shows how we handle our fear and who we put our trust in.
It goes onto say, “your rod and your staff, they comfort me” because he is using the metaphor that we are His sheep and the Lord is our Shepherd. My husband is a pastor and one of his favorite things to say is “I’m a sheep” (listen to two AMAZING podcasts about this here and here!). I love this reminder because sheep have no way of defending themselves on their own, but they don’t have to anxiously protect themselves because they have a GOOD SHEPHERD that is their protector! Can I get an amen?! Basically what I’m saying is the hard times are going to come. We are going to find ourselves in the low places. BUT there are two important things to remember. First, the Lord did not lose sight of you when you found yourself in that valley. He was with you the whole time. And secondly, He is the only One who can lead you out. We don’t have to live in fear because we have a really God that is us AT all times and will protect us THROUGH all times.
I’m going to leave you with some of my favorite verses from Jeremiah below that have helped me in fighting my fear. I want to be a person who is planted near the living water. I want my security to come from having roots that run DEEP in the Lord’s promises and truth. I want to bear fruit even when the hard times come. Circumstances do not get to hold me or scare me when my trust is in HIM. That is my prayer for myself, my daughters, my family, and for YOU today! We are in this fight together, friends!
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” - Jeremiah 17:7-8