It’s OK to be Afraid, But Don’t Live There

When my son was a toddler and learning to swim, he was afraid. I remember his eyes getting big as we approached the water for his first swim lesson. I remember him turning to me, terror in his eyes, and gripping to me with every ounce of strength he had.

In that moment, in my most soothing voice I told him he was ok and he was safe. Then I let him go into the arms of the swim instructor where he was pulled into the water gently, yet he continued to scream for a few more minutes. The instructor continued to work with him and distract him, eventually getting him to calm down. As he settled into the water and felt more at ease, I quietly crept just out of range.

I was still close enough to grab him if he panicked beyond distraction, but far enough to let him learn to be comfortable in this unknown environment with the help of a skilled instructor. He grew to love the water during those swim lessons. He allowed the instructor to push his limits. He learned to float on his back and put his head under water. Fast forward years later, and he no longer fears the water.

When my not so little boy encounters bigger problems with tougher fears, he knows he can come to my arms for love, reassurance, a pep talk, and wisdom on how to tackle the situation at hand. He knows I won’t let him walk into anything truly dangerous and I will help him to move past his fears with confidence.

This is also how our loving Heavenly Father responds to us when we are afraid. Fear is a natural instinct, to deny it is to deny the red flags that often alert us to something that is dangerous or unknown ahead. The Lord doesn’t want us to live in this fear. He knows we could easily be consumed by it and it could paralyze us from moving forward and making healthy choices in the face of whatever is causing us fear.

When we turn to God, it is much the same as when my son turned to me. We grip onto the Lord, we cry out to the Lord with everything we can muster in an attempt to get away from whatever is causing us fear. It is in His presence that He pours His wisdom into us. He comforts us, listens to us, and gets our hearts ready to tackle our fears. He will show us a way around the fear or through it. Then he will release us into the care of believers who can offer us tangible help.

He intends for us to face our fears with the counsel of others, those who can give us Godly wisdom and guide us away from being paralyzed by the unknown and sometimes irrational fears we encounter in life. No matter the fear, the Lord understands and He supplies us with just what we need to conquer it, not live in it. He will stay close by, ready to remind us of His love should we panic, but always with the command to “fear not”. This is his release, His command for us to grow and respond in healthy ways to whatever is causing us fear.

If I had continued to comfort my son in his fear of the water and allowed him to retreat, he would still be fearful today. In the same way, if the Lord allows us to stay in a place of fear and doesn’t push us to face those things that are causing us terror, we would develop fears that are irrational and separate us from a healthy relationship with the Lord.

Whatever is causing you fear today, take it to God and find comfort with Him, so that you may move past it.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

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