I remember as a child how long the route to my parents’ room was in the middle of the night. Darkness seemed to expand the hallway to three times its usual size. I imagine it’s the same way for my kids when they break into a dead sprint with my door as their goal. I sleep with one ear listening for the sound of a doorknob, pitter-patter, quickly I find I am the big spoon with tiny cold feet jammed between my calves and a sharp reminder to keep up on the toenail trimming.
There are many reasons they come to me at night, but the most common culprit that pulls them out of bed to flee to the safety of my arms is
Shadows. Unfamiliar noises. They each went through a phase where they were afraid of their ceiling fan because “it has eyes.” They are currently going through a fear of bees, making getting them outside to enjoy these beautiful Spring days an exercise in hostage negotiation (in which I am the hostage).
Sometimes their imaginations take over as they lie in their beds, launching them into hysterics. This can usually be remedied by a quick flashlight search of their rooms and turning on the hallway light.
The hardest are the vivid nightmares that seemingly come from nowhere. For these I hold the little spoon tight and pray until the trembling subsides.
Can we talk about fear?
To be called fearless would be the highest compliment I could receive and yet I know that I could never genuinely accept it because the truth is I am far from fearless.
I am afraid of so many things.
Fear is a shape shifter and takes many forms. Sometimes I don’t even realize that tugging the strings of my emotion marionettes of anxiety, stress, control, anger, insomnia— is that gleeful puppeteer: fear.
My imagination can spin out of control as I play out scenario after scenario of what possibly could potentially be my future should certain things happen. Anxiety rises up to my neck. I reach my hands up and out grasping for something solid. Real. Predictable. Planned.
I find myself attempting to author my own life, slipping into micromanagement just to feel like I can be in control of… something. Anything.
I remember a former coworker of mine. She has since gained the heavenly crown I always envisioned on her regal head. Her memory continues to mentor me.
I hear her voice so clearly in my mind.
“I fear nothing and no one, but God Himself.”
And I knew that to be true for her, without a doubt. Her chin was set in the perfect balance between pride and humility.
Fear of God is not debilitating, controlling, or paralyzing. To fear solely God brings freedom.
When I am particularly fearful (which has happened a few times lately), I seek to emulate that perfect chin. I declare,
“I fear no one but God!” I proclaim it into being.
Sometimes I blurt it out it and shuffle forward while covering my eyes with my hands.
I sprint through the darkness to my Father’s door.
Then I get to be the little spoon surrounded by that perfect love. The perfect love that casts out all fear.
The perfect love that lights up my swollen feet as I put one foot in front of the other.
I plod onward, and watch as he opens his hands and makes my path smooth. Shadows of irrational fears are lit up with His presence. Fears that I have given the strength of giants through my imagination, shrink and cower.
And the things that are real? That are in fact my adversaries–
I find I am no longer that afraid, because have you seen my God with his sword?
He is fearsome.