Yesterday, the boy talked me into going to Rocky Face Mountain Park. As I’ve mentioned, we live in the sticks now, so these really cool places that used to be at least an hour away are practically right outside our back door – and my little man wants to explore them ALL! And, of course, he wanted to walk the longest, hardest trail.
We were running short on time….and I’m not in any shape to be hiking mountains!….so, I did my best to convince him to walk the short trail. On the map, it looked like a simple hike, only 8/10 of a mile, round trip. He was still pushing for the longer trail – which just happens to start at the end of the short trail. So, to pacify him, I told him we’d walk a short way on the longer trail, then turn back when our time ran out.
Dutifully, I was following him on the narrow, dirt trail up the mountain when, all of a sudden, he shrieked like a little girl and jumped and twisted and swung his arms in a wild gyration. I’m pretty sure my heart stopped, just for a second. I was frantically looking to see what in the world had caused such an outburst when J yelled, “WASP!”
Slightly exasperated (and very out of breath!), I said, “Omigosh! A wasp? Don’t scream like that unless it’s a snake or a serial killer!” Very calmly, my little one said, “But, I’m not afraid of snakes.” He then reminded me that he had been stung on the face by a wasp just a few weeks before. He was afraid of stinging critters before then, but now the fear was even more intense!
As I was snickering over the thought of my sweet little one being afraid of wasps but not snakes, God reminded me that we all have fears. And not all our fears are rational. In fact, I think most fear is irrational. The Bible is very clear about fear – it says “fear not” several hundred times. 1 John 4:18 says “…perfect love casts out fear…” Clearly, the only perfect love is God’s. I have heard it said that if we fear, we haven’t accepted God’s love in that area. Still, though, I am terribly, horribly, chronically human…and I still battle fear, as do most folks I know.
However, fear and how to combat it isn’t really the point of my writing today. Today, I want to talk about compassion. And love. And acceptance. I want to talk about being gentle with each other in our fears and loving others through their torment. And about not being quite so quick to judge the fear of others. We all have our own “thing,” ya know.
Let’s use my boy as an example. He is deathly afraid of bees, wasps, hornets and anything else that looks like it could fly over and sting him. When a stinging critter is around him, you will know about it because he will scream and run. And yes, he was stung recently. I get it. But, it’s just a sting. He’s not allergic, so it’s not life-threatening. It would be easy for me to dismiss his fear because of that fact. But, that doesn’t make his fear less real. So, until he is no longer afraid, the best I can do is accept him, fear and all, and love him through it.
A few weeks ago, I had to face a fear. It’s one that I’ve battled for as long as I can remember and seems silly to most folks. But, to me it’s incredibly real. When I reached out in my fear, my best friend ran to my side and loved me through it. She could have judged me, ridiculed me, mocked me. But she didn’t. She loved me. She prayed for me and with me. And, I made it through. When I looked back on that experience, I could see clearly that God had used her love to make my fear less fearsome.
What God showed my heart yesterday is that I need to have that kind of compassion when dealing with folks and their fears. Whether I understand or not. See, I can understand J’s fear of stinging things. He’s had a bad experience and has a reason to fear. But, not all fear is going to be that simple, that understandable. It’s not my job to understand. It’s my job to love.
So what about you? Is there someone in your life who could use some help overcoming a fear? Love them. Pray for them and with them. Then, love them some more. Yes, it really is that simple.
Be blessed and tell someone you love them!