My oldest daughter is currently terrified of oranges. Yep, oranges. She actually loves oranges. They are one of her favorite fruits, but yesterday she choked on one -- the air pipe blocked, heimlech manuever needed kind of choke. Along with being some of the scariest moments of my life, that experience has made my daughter vow never to eat another orange.
At the moment her fear is so great that she's willing to miss out on something that she loves. Now, I have no doubt that she will eventually eat another orange, but who knows how long it will take to persuade her that the orange wasn't responsible for her choking.
Too often, we do what my daughter has done and allow fear to paralyze us, which keeps us from experiencing all that God has for us. God doesn't want us to be afraid. Over and over again, the Bible tells us to "Fear not." God gave us a fear reflex as a protective mechanism, and healthy fear keeps us from sticking our hands into a fire or stepping out in front of a speeding car. But unhealthy fear keeps us from enjoying the abundant life that Jesus promised us in John 10:10.
Here's the thing, no matter where we go or what we do, God is there. He has promised to go with us no matter where we are. That promise alone should be enough to settle our fears. We can't go anywhere that God can't go with us. We are never out of His sight.
Fear can keep our kids from using their talents -- they may not try out for a team or a group. It can keep them from making new friends. It can keep them from trying new things. We don't want to raise timid children who are paralyzed by fear.
- Examine your own life and see if you are living a life paralyzed by fear. If you are making decisions based on your own fears, then your kids will follow that model. Ask yourself if the fear you have is meant to protect you or your kids or if it's getting in the way of abundant life and make your decisions accordingly.
- Have your kids learn Joshua 10:25 "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous." Whenever your kids are irrationally afraid of something to the point that it is holding them back, remind them of this verse.
- Get out a map of the world. Show it to your kids. Try to find the spot on the map that is the farthest away from where you live. Talk about how big the world is. Then talk with your kids about how God is always with us, no matter how far away from home we get. He's with us in every situation and in every place that we go. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
- Create a word or phrase to use with your kids when they are afraid to remind them that God is in control. It can be as a simple as "fear not" or it can be the name of their greatest fear. Make it somethiing that's easy to remember and is significant to your child, so when they hear it, they will remember to not be afraid because God is with them.
So, whether your kids' greatest fear is oranges, public speaking or the dark, teach them that God is with them, and He can handle that fear.