Do you remember that movie scene that scared the pants off you as a kid? Or when you reached in your purse and, for a split second, couldn’t find your wallet as you stood next to a basket of groceries and your tantruming toddler? Or when someone suddenly veered into your lane on the freeway?
Of course you do.
That’s the power of fear. It constantly slithers around us, trying to find a chink in our emotional armor. It’s impervious to logic. And no matter how skilled we are in handling it, we will never fully be free of it’s bite.
Especially when something scary happens that strikes to the heart of who you are.
That happened to me over the weekend. In response to last week’s post about a parenting mistake, and what I’d learned, was the following comment:
“I am truly sorry that you got to a point where you felt that washing your child’s mouth out with soap was a good choice. In my book, that is child abuse and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
Suddenly, as the words blurred behind tears, I was paralyzed. Fear crept up from my laptop, wrapped itself around my heart and squeezed as hard as it could.
Am I abusive? Should I even be writing or speaking on parenting topics? Should I be coaching other families? Am I a complete failure? …Am I a bad mom?
I had to get up and go for a run, right then. I ran farther than I’ve run in months. Running from the accusation. Running to find the truth again.
Because the only way to poison fear is to tell it the truth.
With inspiring music on my iPod, I ran as hard as I could, letting the words wash over me as I pounded my fear and anger into the ground. When I rounded the last bend, this song was playing:
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Now tears flowed for a different reason. Because of truth.
The truth that God is bigger than any fear I will ever face. That He is bigger than any parenting, teaching or writing mistake I’ve made or will make someday. That no matter what, He will be exalted in the heavens and the earth. And that He loves the woman whose words pierced my heart an hour before.
Which is when I cried …for her. For the pain that she must have felt to say something like that to someone she doesn’t know. I imagined the many times people had criticized her and made her feel crazy for the way she parents her own special needs child. My heart broke for her. And I wished I could see her and tell her so.
In that hour of running, something I’ve read many times came to life for me:
“Love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear.”*
As God changed my own heart, the fears I had just moments before not only fell away, but ceased to matter at all. That’s the power of truth. To remind us of what really is, and to give us a way out when fear grabs hold and tries to choke the life out of us.
How will you run to truth today?
*1 John 4:18, NLT