As a child I was plagued by fear. There was a period of time where I wouldn't even answer "yes" or "no" because I was afraid I might be lying. I saw people walking up the stairs in our house and had dreams about horrible things. I was afraid the Nazis would come and persecute us for being Christians and I slept in my brother's room so as not to be alone. In Sunday school I wouldn't sing "I Love the Bible" because I wasn't sure I really loved it and was afraid I'd be lying if I did sing. (I'd mouth the words though, so I wouldn't have to explain to the teacher why I wasn't singing.) I don't know why, but I was unusually fearful. At some point God delivered me from living in fear and I grew into a confident adult, one who did "dangerous" things like climbed mountains and traveled alone and snowboarded and galavanted around the world. I truly felt like God had lifted the spirit of fear and given me instead "power and love and a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)
And then I became a mama. And the fear began to creep in again. Not all at once, but a little at a time. From the moment I learned I was pregnant with Peregrine the worrisome thoughts began, the what-ifs. The slightest crampy feeling and I wondered if I was going to miscarry. An hour or two without any movement and the fear would rise up. The numerous times I would lay my hand on his little sleeping chest and stand, silently, to feel that reassuring rise and fall that meant life. And as he's grown and Alethea has joined our family I've continued in this; everywhere I look I see potential accidents, I envision injuries and car crashes and disease and rabid dogs around the corner. I've thought about it occasionally, how I've allowed myself to give in to fear, and I try to turn my imaginations into prayer for my children. But too often, I just worry, allowing the small thoughts to turn into full-blown scenarios of things that could happen to Peregrine or Alethea or Erik.
The last few weeks, since losing our unborn baby, I've been struggling with fear more than I have since I was a child. I feel like I want to keep my kids, and Erik for that matter, in my sight at all times, as if my presence will somehow protect them. Of course, since I was physically unable to do much more than lay on the couch for the first two weeks, I had to let my kids be cared for by others. Not just any others, but our parents and sisters who are capable and trustworthy. But still, the fear rises up. My Dad took the kids for a walk on the river path one morning. Their destination was the duck pond, our usual walk. I began to worry; what if one of the kids falls off the bridge, or drowns in the pond, or gets run over by a cyclist? This is my Dad, who raised five kids in the wilds of British Columbia and Alberta, who always guarded and protected us and does the same for his grandchildren. I know he will watch my kids like his own, and yet, I begin to worry.
This increasing fear has gotten me thinking. As a child, I was nearly paralyzed by my fear. And now, fear comes in again, threatening to overshadow the joy that comes with having a family. I have a choice though; I don't have to let that happen. I don't have to allow the fearful thoughts to settle in; I don't have to serve them tea and cookies. They're not welcome guests, and I need to tell them to go. And they're not just harmless thoughts; they're sin, and as God's child I am not to wallow in worry. Fear is not what God has given me; He offers peace. He doesn't promise that nothing bad will ever happen to my children, but I can trust Him, because they are His children, and because He will never leave us. My Mom read me the words of Isaiah 43:1-4 over and over again as a frightened little girl. She read them again to me as I lay in the ER a few weeks ago, weak and pale, unable to stand, and full of sorrow that our baby had died. These words have comforted me through my life; they are written on my heart. They are true, and the fear is not.
"But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life." Isaiah 43:1-4