Leading Your Kids Through Their Fears

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Just as we love and encourage our kids in the midst of their fears, so too does God love and encourage us in the midst of ours!

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 (NIV)

Tears. Wailing. Screaming. A full-blown meltdown.

When my youngest daughter, Brooke, was a baby this was often my reality when I tried to run errands with her. I can remember just trying to get to one more place, knowing we should have been home an hour earlier for her nap. But also knowing there were things that had to get done, I pressed on, hoping for the best.

Brooke, on the other hand, wanted to get out of that car, and she made sure everybody knew it. Whines quickly turned to screams.

My touch has always comforted Brooke. And while I couldn't do much to comfort her while driving, I would often reach my arm into the backseat and gently pat her leg. It took a few minutes, but eventually she'd settle down and reach her tiny hand out to hold mine.

When Brooke was older but still a young girl, she had a performance with her praise dance team from school. I couldn't wait to see Brooke perform these dances she'd been working on and talking about for weeks. But just a few minutes before the performance was about to begin, a very distraught Brooke made her way to the audience to find me.

With tears streaming down her cheeks, she explained that the teacher had moved her from the front row to the back row, and she didn't know the back row's part. I whispered, "Honey, just watch the other girls for cues and follow in step. You know this dance, Brooke. You'll be fine."

She sobbed back, "I won't be fine if I mess up. And I know I'm going to mess up."

That's when it occurred to me. She would need my touch to get through this fear.

But we both knew it wouldn't be possible for my arm to reach all the way up to the stage.

So I quickly whispered, "Brooke, lock your eyes with mine, and I'll touch you with my smile. Don't look at anyone or anything else. It doesn't matter if you mess up. What matters is that you keep your eyes on me the whole time. We'll do this together."

Quietly she asked, "The whole time, Mommy?"

"The whole time, Brooke," I replied as I watched my brave girl walk away to take her place in line.

Several times during the dance, Brooke fell out of step. She knew her steps weren't perfect, so her eyes brimmed with tears. But the tears never fell. With her eyes perfectly locked on my smiling face, she danced.

I smiled when her steps were right on track. I smiled when they weren't.

My smile was not based on her performance. My smile was born out of an incredible love for this precious, courageous little girl.

As she kept her attention focused solely on my smile and the touch of my gaze, it was as if the world slowly faded away and we were the only ones in the room.

This is the way God wants me to dance through life.

Though I can't physically see Him, my soul pictures Him so clearly. In my mind's eye He is there. The touch of His gaze wraps about me, comforts me, assures me, and makes the world seem strangely dim.

As long as my gaze is locked on His, I dance and He smiles.

The fear and anxiety go away. The snickers and jeers of others fade into the distance. And even my own stumbling doesn't cause the same feelings of defeat.

My steps so often betray the desire of my heart, but it is not my perfect performance that captures His attention. Rather, it is my complete dependence on Him that He notices.

He then whispers, "Hold on to Me and what I say about you. For My words are the truth of who you are and the essence of what you were created to be."

I imagine Him pausing and, with tears in His eyes and a crack in His voice, He adds, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

His truth frees you from the chains of fear, doubt and despair. His truth frees me from feeling unable and inadequate. His truth washes over me as I whisper, "I want to be a woman who says yes to God."

And in that moment, with my eyes locked on His, I am.

Dear Lord, I want to hold onto You and what You say about me. Continue to show me Your truth today as I pursue You above all else. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 31:14, "But I trust in you, LORD; I say, 'You are my God.'" (NIV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you want to have a deeper connection with God through whatever life brings? Try praying a gut-honest prayer today and bring all concerns, big and small, to Him.

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