I wish that as a child I had understood that God was always with me. I was told that God was everywhere but all that meant to me was that he knew if I was being bad because he could see me no matter where I was or what I was doing. Got to love that guilt placed on me and countless other children in catechism classes. My big confession each week before communion was that I fought with my sister. The priest finally got so tired of hearing the same thing week after week that he told my parents my sister and I could skip confessing that one so that other people could have a turn. Seems the penance for that infraction was to spend some time on your knees in a corner. I'm not so sure my time counted though since I vaguely remember the whole time I was on my knees I was praying for my sister to be nicer!
When I was little I was terrified of the dark. I was afraid of vampires long before they were cool and werewolves before they had six pack abs. I was afraid of ghosts, devils, dogs that barked at me, whatever might be under the bed waiting to attack me and the mean old lady that sat on her porch between me and my friend's house down the street. I hated to be alone. It was of no comfort to me that God was everywhere. My experiences with fear helped me to be much more understanding when our girls faced childhood fears of their own.
When Melanie was little she was always afraid to go anywhere by herself. She never wanted to ask the lady at the cash register for change or make a trip to the bathroom by herself. Thankfully Melanie had her cousin Ellen, who was a bit more bold, to go most everywhere with her all the way into adulthood. Her sisters got a little tired of her overactive imagination but Ellen was her rock and let her stand in her shadow all the way to countless bathrooms and to face down the scary people waiting to take her order at the ice cream counter. Melanie is a bit more bold today but definitely not an extrovert.
Now Lindsay was another story. Lindsay is the middle child of the second set of three girls. Lindsay was afraid to go to bed and her prayer each night for years was, "God bless everyone in the whole world except bad men and the devil. Amen." She use to build a pillow and stuffed animal wall all around herself each night with precision. I called it her fortress. She would sleep snuggly in her little cushy cocoon while whoever slept with her complained that all her animals were taking up the whole bed. The night light never seemed to be enough and she always wanted another light on. This was also met with sibling complaints of having to sleep in the daylight. I think that sometimes nights seemed eternal for Lindsay. She was always the last to go to sleep and I truly did feel her pain. Today she is still the last one to go to sleep. Some habits are hard to break!
Today I try to deal with my fear in a more proactive way instead of cowering under the covers. A popular Christian song has a phrase in it taken from Romans 8:31, "And if our God is for us, nothing can ever stop us and if our God is with us, nothing can stand against". I love that line of the song. What a powerful truth and freedom is in those few words. Not even the worst fears we can conjure up can stand against God and that is comforting for me since I can conjure up some pretty scary stuff. I've grown to realize that most of the battle is in my mind so it is important for me to fill my mind with the truth of God's word so that I can draw that double edged sword of His word whenever the need arises.
Here is a little something to sharpen your sword...
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; Do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8