The other day, Mommy and I were walking in the park when we saw three little girls skipping down a path on the other side of the park. I said to Mommy, “Doesn’t that remind you of when I used to do that?” She smiled and nodded, and as we walked on I remarked on the fact that my days of skipping down the path weren’t actually too long ago, though perhaps they should have been. I thought that maybe it was because I didn’t learn how to skip until rather late in my childhood, compared to other children. Mommy then said, “That’s right. You were kind of a late skipper, weren’t you?” We both broke out laughing, but that did make me think.
I was a late skipper.
I had acute “Little Sister Syndrome”, which meant that however I might try, I could not aim, throw, catch, kick, hop, sprint, or do anything that required any amount of coordination. I was the recipient of the classic phrase “you throw (catch, kick, etc.) like a girl!” countless times, as my frustrated brother bemoaned the fact that I was not, after all, a boy.
Perhaps that is why under my fouffy feminine “princess” layer, there lurks a mischievous tomboy who delights in such undignified things as jumping in puddles, playing with friendly bugs and digging in the dirt, and who finds the phrase “I’ll bet you can’t…” nearly irresistible.
This “inner tomboy”, however, did not keep me from being the family “fraidy cat.” I loved to follow my brother wherever he went, and attempt to copy whatever he did, but I would usually get halfway and stop, because I was too scared to go on. I tried to climb trees, but I was afraid of heights. I loved animals, but I was terrified of them. I would always enjoy playing outside –until I saw a bee, or fly, or spider, or anything else that was “scary”. My brother and I would play catch with his baseball and gloves, but I would always squeal and run when the ball came near me. It seemed as if I was afraid of everything. I was even afraid of the large coat rack we had in our hallway! -But that’s a story for another day.
Strangely enough, my propensity to fearfulness was how I first learned to really trust the Lord. As I grew older, my fears grew as well. I had (and still have) an overactive imagination, which caused me to be fearful, not only of things that were real like bees or mice or whatever, but also to be afraid of things that I imagined might happen. For years, I would pray before I went to sleep that God would protect me and my household from any and every evil I could think of, just in case. By the time I was about 10, it seemed I was almost constantly afraid of something.
It was then that I came across Psalm 91. I began to memorize it, repeating it to myself whenever I was afraid. This changed my focus from my fear, to God’s ability to protect me from the things I feared. Soon I began to notice His hand of protection on my life: we would be nearly sideswiped by another car on the freeway, or my brother and I would be thoughtlessly doing something very dangerous and come away unharmed, or, when I was a bit older, I would be walking someplace alone and get safely to my destination, despite having to walk past homeless people or drunks or other “scary” people on my way. It seemed that every day there was an instance where God protected me from harm.
Yet, while this helped me to keep from being frightened, I still had not learned how to yield my fears to the Lord in the midst of them. One night, I had a terrible dream, in which Daddy was driving us across a certain bridge, and somehow our car went over the edge, hurtling towards the water below. I awoke very frightened, but reassured myself that it was only a dream. The next afternoon, my family decided to take a trip to the living history farm we volunteer at. Daddy, driving the same car that had been in my dream, decided to take the route that crossed the bridge I had dreamt about. I was terrified, but I knew that there was no reason to fear. I had to simply ask God to take away my fear, and help me to trust Him to do that which was best. I did not have victory over my fear all at once, but as I turned my focus off my imaginings and looked to God for help, it lessened considerably.
This morning I came across Hebrews 3:14-15. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Emphasis mine.)
The only way I could escape the bondage of my fears was to give them up, and throw myself wholly on God’s protection and care.
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” Psalm 56:3