Saturday, October 27, 2007

God is bigger than the boogie-man...

I was just reading on another blog a question that a mom had posted about how to help children deal with being afraid of the dark. It got me thinking about this, and so I thought I'd post my response here for anyone who might find this topic one you can relate to. (And from my perspective, keep in mind that we all deal with fears, so some of this might be applicable even for you 'big kids'!) OK, here's what's been running through my mind as I ponder this topic...for what it's worth.

One thing that my mom did with me from a very young age was this when I would struggle with 'bad dreams' - she would have me sleep with my Bible. Now, keep in mind, she had me learning my verses for Bible Club every week by the age of 2. (My sis found my baby book in Mom's attic the other week and rolled her eyes and made fun of me for being a 'prodigy' when she read that at the age of 2 I could recite all the books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and also that I said my memory verse every week. All kidding aside, it really had little to do with my intelligence, and more to do with her diligence. Actually, her singing verses to me to help me learn them, and then reciting them at Bible Club is probably one of my earliest memories. Thanks mom!) Anyway, getting back to the original topic - she would have me sleep with my Bible so that as I drifted to sleep, and in the event I awoke afraid, I would have a very tangible reminder of the promises of God that He was always with me, I had nothing to fear, that He had given angels 'charge over me', etc. Also, she reminded me that the Word of God was my sword - my weapon to deal with anything that was scary or evil. I could use it to remember, meditate on, even speak out loud those promises that she was so diligent instilling in me. I heard somewhere (though I still have to verify this) that God says "Do not fear" 365 times in the Bible. Does that number jump out at you? Seems to me, that's one for every day of the year!

Another thought would be to investigate where the fear is coming from - did something happen that triggered it - whether it be a sudden fear of the dark, or a bout with bad dreams, etc. A few months after my dad died my 5 year old began crying uncontrollably in his sleep. Often he was not even awake, and didn't necessarily remember the incident in the morning, though sometimes he did wake and still was unable to tell us what was wrong. We prayed with him, had him pray himself, yet these bouts continued. One morning I took him out for breakfast by himself and was able to get him to begin talking about how he was dealing with losing Pappy. While on the surface he seemed to be doing OK, this particular conversation revealed that he was wrestling with being terrified that he would go to sleep at night and awake to me being gone. It was definitely an "ah-hah!" moment. My dad died in the middle of the he had gone to bed having Pappy here and woke up with him gone forever. Pretty traumatic for anyone, but especially a 5-year old. When we were able to talk and pray about that specific issue, the night crying stopped. I've heard of many people being able to pinpoint a specific event or circumstance in their life, usually in childhood, that introduced an ongoing battle with some kind of fear. When that 'monster' can be effectively dealt with, the effects can be quite releasing in many areas.

I know there are all sorts of things that I've heard of parents trying to help kids overcome fears, from 'monster spray' to flash lights to sleeping with mom and dad. I'm not saying they are bad, or even that I wouldn't try some of them myself (I regularly awake to find a little guy curled up next to me and don't know when or how he got there!). But I hope that God helps me to keep remembering that when it comes to raising my kids, I'm trying to not only deal with a situation, but that I am equipping them for life. I could just give my little guy a flash light, but at some point in his life he will be afraid of something that a flash light just won't cut it for. My desire is for him to have the tools to deal with anything that comes his way, and above all, he must know that it's only with Jesus as his strength and guide that he truly CAN face any fear.

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