We called her our Roller Coaster Baby. My middle girl was a fearless climber and intrepid explorer in her younger days. When she played with Daddy, she always wanted to go higher and faster.
We thought she’d be a mountain climber, an adventurer, a bold and brave pioneer, who wouldn’t be intimidated by peer pressure or life’s obstacles.
Then she learned the word “scared.”
From the first time that word rolled off her tongue, she changed. Her reaction to every movie or TV show, every playground, every game was, “I’m scared.” To emphasize it, she would clutch her arms around her body and tremble.
Now, she’s growing up afraid. Even the Grover roller coaster at our Busch Gardens is off-limits. No roller coasters for her. No fast rides, high rides or anything that makes your belly flip flop. She’s all about bumper cars and slow-moving swings.
Disney movies are off-limits and Pixar films a no-go. They have bad guys and dramatic scenarios where the heroes and princesses are momentarily in jeopardy.
That’s too scary. In fact, it’s hit the floor and scream in the middle of the movie theater scary. It’s run out of the room crying and hide under your blankets frightening.
Unfortunately, this middle girl of mine is passing her fear on like a worn-out, unwelcome hand-me-down.
My youngest baby girl has discovered Tangled, the Disney movie about Rapunzel. If I let her, she’d keep it on continuous play all day. She acts out the scenarios, sings the songs, and calls her baby dolls, “Rapunzel” instead of Sally or Jane.
My toddler wasn’t afraid of the movie until she watched it with her older sisters the other day. They hid their faces, fast-forwarded through tense scenes, and whined, “It’s too scary.”
Suddenly, my youngest learned that you were supposed to be afraid. The movie that hadn’t given her the slightest quiver of fear now sends her to my side every few minutes to announce, “I’m scared.”
I’m discovering that fear is a cursed gift we sometimes pass on to one another.
At the very least, I know one thing with certainty–fear isn’t something given to us by God. It’s never part of His plan for us. He wants us all to be intrepid explorers, brave pioneers, and valiant defenders of what is right and true.
Instead, we are run-out-of-the-room afraid. We are hide-our-heads-under-our-blankets scared.
How has this happened? Paul wrote so clearly that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV).
When Jesus left the disciples, He gave them another precious gift:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27, ESV)
So many of us sing the song Trading My Sorrows in our churches. We proclaim, “I’m trading my sorrows. I’m trading my shame. I’m laying then down for the joy of the Lord. I’m trading my sickness. I’m trading my pain. I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.”
We sing that, but we do the opposite. We trade in the gifts that God’s given, of power, love, self-control and peace, for a fear-filled life and anxious hearts.
It’s a learned trait. At some point, someone we respect and believe in tells us to be afraid and suddenly the childlike fearlessness of our innocent days is tainted and torn.
Or we are hurt and abandoned, abused, or neglected and we learn what it means to be terrified.
Or circumstances just loom so impossibly over our shoulders and our practical minds assure us that destruction is imminent.
Or Satan, the father of lies, fills our hearts and heads with doubt and discouragement. He tells us, “God’s not with you. You’re alone. You have no hope. This is impossible. Nothing can save you now.”
Whatever our story is and no matter who or what it was that first shoved fear into our hands, it’s time to stop agreeing to the exchange. It’s time to stop accepting hand-me-down terror. It’s time to start rejecting Satan’s offer to trade in peace for worry.
It’s time to fight for the gift God’s already given us—peace in His presence.
Remember that “with His love, He will calm all your fears” (Zephaniah 3:17) and even “though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
God’s Word also reminds us:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
We don’t know the future. We don’t know all the reasons for evil and pain in this world. We don’t understand everything that happens and we’re not guaranteed perfect lives of comfort and prosperity.
But we don’t have to be afraid. God has lavished us with perfect gifts—peace, love, self-control, power. He promises to be with us, wherever we go, whatever we face. That’s a gift worth keeping. Don’t trade in that promise for anything.
You can read more devotionals on this topic here:
- Learning the Ways of the Ninja
- And Then What Happened, Part II
- Bad Dreams
- Your Comforts Delight My Soul
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.