Some months to my wedding I had a conversation with a neighbour in the office complex where my dad had his business centre. The lady had three children the eldest of which was a girl of 8 years old. She told me about the sharp rebuke she had received from an older family member when her 8 year old was a baby, because she had sent someone into her bedroom to check if her newborn daughter was still breathing. It was her practice to check on the infant every few minutes to confirm she was still alive. The baby had been born perfectly healthy and had no cause whatsoever to suddenly stop breathing but the irrational fears of a first-time mum sometimes knows no limits.
When my turn came as a first-time mum, I had my own fears. Some were as irrational as my neighbours’ and some seemed rational. Will my child be safe anytime I am out of sight? Will others look after her well if I’m not there? When she is not eating as well as I expect, is she ill? Can I prevent my baby from having any bumps, grazed knees or accidents of any kind? Every little cough or sneeze was enough to trigger the imagination of the worst. Many times my medical doctor husband laughed at me and referred to “ New mother syndrome”. I didn’t think at that time that any of those worries, anxieties or fears were wrong. I felt it was my job as a mother to worry and be apprehensive about anything and everything that could go wrong with my baby.
Three weeks after my daughter was born, I had to leave her for a few hours at home in the very capable and loving hands of my mother in law and my husband. It should have been an enjoyable outing but with every step I took away from the house, the bigger my anxiety grew. I can’t remember today what it was I imagined would have happened before I returned, I can only recall that I wanted to be back home as quickly as possible. On my return home, the sheer relief of finding my daughter safe with all her ten fingers and toes intact almost made me burst into tears. As I was silently muttering my thanks, the Holy Spirit convicted me of fear. God gently assured me that as He looked after me while I was growing up, He can and will watch over my daughter and keep her safe.
Fear is a sign that I don’t trust God. It also shows that I am disobedient because several times in the bible the scripture says, “Fear not”. If it were impossible I would not be asked to do it. It has been said that the instruction not to fear, or worry or be anxious is given over 365 times in the bible, so I could have one for each day.
How do I stop myself living in fear? By substituting my fearful thoughts with God’s Word. Psalm 56, verses 3-4 shows me the example of David who said;
“When I am afraid, I will trust in You (God). In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”
Living by the Word of God is key. Having the word in my heart takes me from fear-based thinking to faith-based thinking. Fear opens a man up to the devil while faith opens him up to God. Fear and faith cannot co-habit and the bible says, ‘The just shall live by faith’. (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11)
Faith comes by hearing…Romans 10:17. The more I hear the word of God and I speak it, the more my faith grows and the less fearful I become. Lots of passages in the bible talk about the ability of God to ensure it is well with His people and that they are safe. Psalm 91 is one among many that I love to confess over my family.
My choice is to live by faith and not by fear as I continue to parent. Recently at a programme I attended on ‘Raising godly children fear-free’, the speaker said, “Secure children are a product of fear-free parenting”. I want my children to grow up secure in the love of God and in the knowledge that He Who watches over them neither slumbers nor sleeps.