Learning about fear from children

Published 10:47 pm Friday, September 25, 2015

I have a lot of fun with my grandchildren, sometimes at their expense as I tease and aggravate them. But they know that I love them and would never purposely do anything to harm them. I recall an occasion when I got a little more mileage than I anticipated out of one of my stunts. Let me quickly say that no harm or injury resulted, just a much larger response than I expected and a memory that will last a lifetime.

Addyson was two years old at the time. While she was down the hall with the closet door opened looking for something, she did not know that I was in the adjoining room, which has a door next to the hall closet. With her little head inside the closet and her mind fully occupied with whatever she was trying to find, she was clueless that I had stepped out of the bedroom and into the hallway. As I did, I gave out a growl which set her immediately into motion. I suppose she thought the sound was coming from within the dark recesses of that little storage area, and she lost no time making her escape! That was the closest I have ever seen a child come to flying as she bounded toward safety with her Nana in the living room!

Fear is a real force that does not suddenly cease to exist when we become adults, so we have to deal effectively with it so that it does not become a hindrance to us emotionally and spiritually. Unconquered fear can even play a role in interfering with physical health.

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With the abundance of uncertainties in our world, such as those related to economics, health, security and countless others, there is a fertile seedbed for fear and worry to germinate in. I agree with the person who described fear and worry as Siamese twins. One writer stated that “Anxiety is a thin stream of fear, trickling through the mind.  If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”

I am sure my experience with Addyson was much funnier to me than it was to her, but after a little comfort and assurance, she was back in good friendship and trust with her Papa. Perhaps we can learn a few things from Addyson’s episode of fear that we can utilize to prevent our personal fears from holding us hostage.

One is, what she feared was not really as bad as she thought. I have no way of knowing what went through her little mind at that moment when I scared her, but in the end, she found that everything was really alright. In like manner, many—and probably even most–of the things we fear might happen never do. We are better equipped to handle the genuine emergencies of life when we do not stay drained by allowing the thin streams of fear to trickle through our minds.

Another is, as she experienced fear, she knew where to turn for help and protection—she ran to her Nana. We, too, have an eternal source that we can trust in during our most fearful and trying times of life. As Psalm 46 assures us, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (verse 1, New International Version).

Fears, whether real or imagined, can take a toll on life, robbing us of peace. But when we put our trust in God’s loving care, we can find peace even in the midst of trouble.