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. She’s afraid of heights. She’s terrified of spiders. She can’t sleep in the dark. Most movies are off-limits because any bad guy of any kind ‘creeps her out.’ She can’t sleep with her head uncovered at night for fear of intruders and murderers.
Unfortunately, this middle girl of mine is passing her fear on like a worn-out, unwelcome hand-me-down.
My youngest girl is a brave soul, taking on challenges and amusement park rides with courage.
But last night, her older sister’s fears trickled down to her. This little one couldn’t stay in her bed, couldn’t sleep in her own room, couldn’t turn out the lights. She was tearful, fearful and overcome.
She had learned that you were supposed to be afraid.
I’m discovering that fear is a cursed ill-fitting hand-me-down that 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)
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 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.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer 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. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.