How often, I wonder, do I say “no” to something because I am afraid? “No” to the children’s desire to do something. “No” to good opportunities, to friendships, to grace?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about this a great deal. I see so much anxiety and fear in the social media groups I belong to and among my real life friends. We are all carrying so much anxiety and fear. “What if my child….?” “What if my husband…?” “What if our financial situation….?”
Our culture spends so much time bringing up our fears, and promising solutions to them, that it is easy to get pulled in and not even recognize the ways that fear is driving our lives—in what we purchase, what we listen to, and what we engage with. We hear that healthy food is important and are driven to constantly revise the family’s diet as we attempt to silence the voice of fear. We learn of a family grieving because a beloved child has walked away from them and begin immediately reevaluating everything we are doing in order to silence the voice of fear. A relative expresses some surprise or concern about what our children do or don’t know and we react in anger and pull back from them in order to silence our fear.
Sisters, I am sure we all know this verse from 2 Timothy 2—“…God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind”—and this one from I John 4—“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear hath torment…” Do we live them, or do we torment ourselves by holding onto our fears and anxieties?
I am not saying that there aren’t things that we should consider and be aware of as we go through our days. After all, we are told that we should be wise and examine the things that we do and see. Caution can be a signal from the Holy Spirit about a particular situation or event, and we should pay attention. There is, however, a big difference between being wise and cautious, and being fearful and anxious.
I remember, when I was quite small, reading a biography of Davy Crockett (Childhood of Famous Americans series, I think) in which his life motto was given: “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”
That is a powerful statement. Davy Crockett is not the only one who has lived by such a motto. A brief look at the lives of the saints—and particularly those who were martyred—makes it clear that many of our spiritual ancestors have lived just this way! What better example of confidence in the face of fears can we have than those men and women who were willing to die for what they knew was right!
We may not be called upon to die for the right, but we need to make that same choice of confidence. We should do our homework, research what we need to research, think carefully, seek others’ wisdom, and then—having committed our labors and plans the Lord—we need to proceed, trusting that the Lord will bless what we have committed to Him. Making this choice to trust is hard, but with practice, it can become a habit.
Building a Habit of Confidence
Fill your mind with the encouragement of Scripture and the example of men and women of faith! We read most days from a book of little biographies of saints, one for every day of the year. It is a great start to the day to be reminded that it is possible to withstand great trials with confidence and trust. There are numerous books that give little biographies that are suitable for the whole family, and the children are often much quicker than I am to draw parallels between the lives of the saints and our own life together.
Post Scripture around the house and make a point of calling your own and the children’s attention to the verses you have posted throughout the day. I often write a verse on the top half of our kitchen whiteboard and leave it there until we have memorized it. These verses come from my own devotional reading or are related to a particular area I think we need to work on as a family, such as encouraging one another. Scripture is powerful and drives out anxiety by turning us back towards God.
Choose to speak with confidence and to tell and retell the stories of God’s provision in our own lives. We all know the stories of God’s grace to people in the Bible or historical saints, but do we tell the stories of God’s provision in our own lives? If we don’t, we should! When I tell the children how I remember a story from my childhood about God’s provision of food through a fisherman neighbor’s having too large of a catch to sell, they see that God cares about the physical needs of His people today, just as He did in Exodus. I am also reminded by these stories that God has provided, and will do so again—and I can continue to do my part with confidence.
Tangible reminders of God’s providing love prove that there is a foundation to our confidence, and our anxieties must give way. Making the choice to trust, again and again, builds a habit of trust that will stand even in the darkest times, so that we can say with Paul, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counseller? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33 KJV)
This article was originally published on the website of the Home Educators Association of Virginia HEAV.org and is used with permission.