Escaping the Anxiety Trap
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18a (NIV)
He cried all the way to school, and I cried all the way back home. Day after day, my 7-year-old’s fears loomed large in our lives. The latest fear was of school, but his other fears had kept us from normal life routines for years.
My husband and I tried everything we knew to reassure our son, but we were exhausted and out of ideas. Finally, in desperation, we turned to a Christian counselor.
During one of our first meetings, she asked me to make a complete list of our son’s fears. I started the list, and then I listed some more. And I listed. And I listed. I was stunned when I saw the full scope of his anxieties.
I finally got the courage to ask the questions weighing on my heart from the start. Through tears I asked: “Is this just the beginning? I need to know what to expect. Will these fears continue to grow for the rest of his life?”
Our counselor smiled, explained that childhood anxiety is usually short‑lived and then told me a story. She had a friend who had struggled with overwhelming fear and anxiety since childhood. As her friend grew up, she came to a saving knowledge of Jesus followed by a calling to missions.
Even though the friend overcame her fear enough to move to a foreign country, she confessed that there was constantly a gap of time between God speaking to her and obedience while she overcame the fear of change.
The counselor gently reached for my hand and said, “Amy, you’re doing the right thing helping your son to face and overcome his fears now. If my friend had gotten help as a child, she would be able to obey God with joy instead of fear. That’s the goal!”
I sobbed with relief and stoked my determination to fight his fears (and mine) to the death. If you’re in those shoes today, I want to encourage you. Fear can be vanquished, and it’s worth the work. Just keep your eyes on the prize …
We can conquer our fears to follow God fearlessly. If you or your child feels overwhelmed by fear, here are steps our family took to find freedom:
Memorize Scripture. Knowing key Scripture verses by heart was essential. We’d say the verse, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear …” (1 John 4:18a). And then I’d ask our son to say who loves him, starting with God. The power and truth of Scripture is calming.
Harness thought patterns. We talked about how fear is like a snowball rolling down a hill. The longer it rolls, the larger and faster it gets. When our son would start to panic, we’d say, “Let’s not let the snowball roll down the hill. Let’s talk about/think about something good.”
Enlist the help of a Christian counselor. Our family hired a Christian counselor when we ran into a problem we couldn’t seem to solve ourselves. In our case, we only saw the counselor for a very limited time before we were back on our feet again. I’m a huge advocate for the power of outside help!
Today, our son is a thriving college freshman. He didn’t overcome his fear and anxiety overnight, but we haven’t seen signs of them in years. He’s eager for his story to be told to help other people, so he gave me full permission to share it here. He wants you to know that freedom is achievable. God loves you and wants you to walk free from fear as you take steps of trust today.
Lord, I want to be free from anxiety and fear. Teach me to trust Your Word and to give You my anxious thoughts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 3:6, “I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.” (NIV)
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are some things that feed your fears?
What activities help you fight your fears? Choose to implement at least one of these today.