More On Getting Rid of Fear

Our thoughts and subsequent behavior have the power to bring great hope or harm to our posterity. In the same way we might write a script for a play, we help author our children’s thoughts by the way WE think. We have no secret or private musings that don’t influence us and those we live and associate with. If we take the time to cultivate loving, uplifting thoughts, we become the fertile field for our children’s hearts to grow in. We can’t control the elements of sun and storm, but we can be their good earth.

When I first became a mother, I often felt overwhelmed and inadequate. I read every book and article I could find about parenting and discovered that experts kept changing their minds and disagreeing with each other.  I finally decided to ask the only real expert. I plead with God to teach me how to love my husband and children. Each time I prayed I felt impressed to change my thoughts.

I remember receiving the impression that if I really wanted to help one particular child, I had to let go of all my most personal fears. Those fears didn't consist only of public speaking or death, but included fear of failure, not being good enough, pretty enough or smart enough, being rejected by those I loved or even that I was unknown to God.  As I gradually uncovered and let go of my fears, I watched my little girl let go of hers. As I replaced my negative thoughts with positive ones, I watched my little girl blossom into her true self. Today that same little girl who didn't dare leave the house alone because a grasshopper might jump on her has earned a PhD from a prestigious Ivy League school and travels the world working on archaeological sites, doing research and presenting papers.

Half of all hospital beds are filled with worry warts and hypochondriacs. We need to relax and turn our lives over to God. Obsessive worrying is a bad habit that demonstrates a basic lack of trust in our Creator. We need to remember God is in charge. Like staring at pictures in magic-eye books, we have to be still, focus and then relax before the image appears. When we focus on positive thoughts and learn how to relax, we too will see the magic in our lives that we are missing at first glance.

When I taught writing to college students, I told them to type on the computer with the screen turned off so they couldn’t see and criticize what they had written. My students couldn’t write well if they were constantly worried about their mistakes. If they focused on expressing themselves in the first draft then worked on grammar and spelling in a later draft, their craftsmanship improved dramatically. We likewise don’t live well when we focus on everything we or others are doing wrong all the time. Everyday life is first draft. We can go back and make corrections. We need to let go of our perfectionism, over-anxiety and our multitude of fears. Most fears are blown way out of proportion.

For example, when my daughter Amy was three she was mortally afraid of the tiny, black pieces of sock lint that floated into the bathwater from her tiny toes. She would jump up and scream, pointing at the horrible, dark monsters. I tried reasoning with her, calmly explaining that sock lint was nothing to be afraid of. It didn’t work.

My husband walked into the bathroom, observed his screaming daughter then suddenly became exuberant yelling, “Amy, kill it!” He grabbed the nearest powerful weapon - the toilet plunger - and demonstrated to his tiny daughter how to knock the smithereens out of a piece of sock lint mixed with toe sweat. “Now you do it,” he said, handing Amy the plunger.

To my surprise Amy quickly modeled her father’s behavior. Instantly, a smile marched across her face. She was empowered. Her screaming episodes in the bathtub disappeared. Similarly, the way we think about challenging people and situations in our personal lives can make them seem scarier than they really are. If we ask God to help us, we will be given the abilitly to see more clearly so we can do battle with our negative and fearful thoughts before they paralyze us.