Sick scared, she called it. She is only 7 and she is beginning to understand the physical effects of fear.
Her body shrinks in response to the tension. Know the feeling?
Swimming lessons, ballet performances, piano recitals, co-op programs. She has this love-hate relationship with it all and too often her “tummy doesn’t feel good”.
As her mom I comfort and confirm, I troubleshoot and try to find the balance between pushing and nurturing, between holding her hand and letting her go so that she will walk bravely. I’ve far from mastered it and second guess myself more often than I like.
Did I push her too hard? Not enough? God, help. I’m terrible at this!
But yesterday she called it out for the first time, gave words to it, just before her first ever group swimming lesson. “Mom, I’m feeling sick scared again today.” Those words, sick scared.
Hands soapy with dish water, I grabbed a towel and stopped everything.
I don’t always know what to do about tummy aches. I have a hard time deciphering if a child is getting a bug or ate something bad, picked up a germ at the playground or who knows what else. But sick scared? Give me a towel to dry my hands and I’m all over that one.
I got down on my knees and spoke truth over this little girl of mine. I reminded her who she is. I prayed against a spirit of fear and told her I needed her to trust God and trust mommy that swimming lessons would be good. We talked about speaking truth when we feel fear settle deep and asking God to make us brave when we don’t feel brave at all. I told her mommy knows exactly what scared sick feels like.
And of all the times she has told me her “tummy doesn’t feel good” we fought this one differently because she called out her fear for what it was. Sick scared.
There is power in calling out fear for what it is.
As we get older we make excuses for fear. We come up with these misnomers, convincing ourselves and the rest of the world of our charade. We dress them up and sculpt them smooth so we can serve them up in easily digestible bites. We don’t chase our dreams because we are too old and too tired. We don’t have the time and money, the resources to travel the world, to adopt a baby, to serve the homeless or start a business. We’re too busy to take the stage, start a Bible study, learn Spanish or lead. We minimize our gifts and talents and sit stagnant when maybe, underneath it all, we are just sick scared.
In Mark 5, when Jesus was making his way to visit Jairus’s dying daughter, we see this very thing happen. Some people rush from Jairus’s house and meet Jesus and Jairus in transit, “Your daughter is dead”, they proclaim. “Why trouble the Teacher any further?” Jesus responds immediately, “Do not be afraid; only believe”.
Do you see how that went down? Jesus did not call out Jairus’s grief or disappointment. He did not call out his frustration or anger, sadness or loss. In an instant, he called out what was lying beneath it all. He called out his fear.
You see, calling out fear clarifies the problem. Maybe what is holding us back isn’t age afterall. Maybe it’s not timing or lack of resources, maybe it’s simply fear. Bring it out into the light and we see that.
Calling out fear clarifies the solution. Jesus told Jairus, “only believe”.
We can’t do a whole lot about our age. Even Botox can’t fix that. Securing resources can be a huge mountain to climb as well. Where will we ever get the money to adopt, find the time to serve others, find the people to start a non-profit? I don’t know. But when we boil our excuses down to fear – fear of failure, fear of weaknesses, fear of risk, the list goes on, we all of sudden begin to see the appropriate response.
Only believe. Only believe that His promises are true (2 Corinthians 1:20). Only believe He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9). Only believe that He is good, His word is life, and He is mighty to save. Only believe that the God of the universe planted dreams and gifts in your very heart and the God that moves mountains can easily bring it all to fruition if we boldly fight fear and believe.
This is the truth that fights fear, friends. Call those fears out for what they are – the ones buried deep in your heart, so deep we hardly see them for what they are any longer. The ones we’ve robed and costumed, the ones we’ve prettied up so they’re socially acceptable, the ones we’ve called by every other name except for what they really are – fear.
And help those sweet kids of yours to do the same. Teach them the tools to fight fear and walk brave. Always and only because of Him.