How to Root Out Fear that Settles in Dark

Originally published Tuesday, 07 March 2017.

This would be the year he’d learn to swim.

Getting my toddler ready for his first day of lessons, I calmly met each anxious question.

Thing is, with a pool in our backyard and summer highs hitting triple digits, learning to swim is a necessity.

As I walked him to the pool, I convinced him enough just to sit at the pool’s edge with his classmates.

The instructor started slowly – teaching the kids to blow bubbles at the surface and progressing to skim boards powered by energetic kicking. Finally, one by one, she took each toddler underwater as they held their breath.

Matt took one look and ran – past me and out the gate.

I knew his fears were unfounded. As a parent, it was so easy to see that he could do this. In fact, if he could get past his fear, he’d actually love it.

But his fear stopped him from seeing any of that.

Finally, one evening, I got in our pool with him. I held him tight and reassured him that I’d go underwater with him.

“Ready. Set. Go!” We sucked in our breath and ducked underwater and then back up.

See? You did it.  Again and again, down and up, down and up, me holding him underwater and then back up together, Matt learned there was nothing to fear. In fact, he actually liked it.

Most of us have fears that keep us just as paralyzed. We hold onto anxieties of what-if’s as we sit on the edge of unknown tomorrows.

Some of my fears are those tasks that seem impossible — so far outside my comfort zone I don’t even know where to start.

Some of my fears stem from things outside of my control. Will the economy tank? Will something happen to my health?

I have fears regarding my children. What kind of choices will they make out on their own? Will she be okay driving home on the interstate?

Even when I step out in faith, I’m surprised at the fear I can often take along with me, wondering whether it will all pan out.

We may live in a world of unknowns but God does not intend for us to walk through it scared.

But you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear but you received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba. Father.”

Fear keeps us bound up — sidelined so that we never take the plunge God has for us. It keeps us wrapped up so tight we’re unable to freely and fully live out our days.

Fear takes up residence in places where peace and joy belong.

But how? How to root out the fearful thoughts, the angst that awakens and settles in the dark hours, the paralysis that would keep us stuck on the edge?

We can trust His love.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

The opposite of fear is not faith. The opposite of fear is love.

Only when Perfect Love has come into every corner of our thoughts and emotions and tomorrows can we realize there is no room left for fear.

And so we wrap ourselves in God’s perfect love rather than wracking ourselves with unproven fear.

Living enough years gives perspective to look back and see: not one of those fears that I ever conjured up has come to be.

Interestingly, the one thing I never, ever thought would happen – never gave it a thought or had one second of fear over – has happened.

And yet, even in this, God has held us tight. Even as it’s ushered in all new fears, God pulls me to Him, to allow His Perfect Love to crowd out any space for fear.

We can trust His love.

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