Many, many years ago, one of our daughters would wake up in a full-blown panic, calling for us:
Mommy! Daddy! Dragons! Dragons!
Mommy! Daddy! Dragons! Dragons!
Tears on her face, she would curl up against us, while we tried to soothe her. She didn’t want to sleep WITH us, as much as she wanted the dragons to ‘go away.’ We had little success in persuading her the dragons had left until she fell back asleep.
This happened on and off for a couple of months. It was exhausting for all of us. Nightlights. Music. Aroma therapy. Stuffed animals. We would go a couple of nights and then… BAM. Her pediatrician noted it and said that it was a part of brain development. She wasn’t sleep walking. It wasn’t night terrors. It was probably just “bad dreams.”
Except, these were not dreams from her perspective. There were dragons under the bed. And they hid when we came in the room. And they only came out at night… At one point, I even tried opening the window and shooing out the dragons before bedtime. (Yes. I was desperate. And pregnant.)
Funny thing, there’s nothing in parenting books about “dragons”…
Finally, I had a fit of inspiration. It was after we had come back from a camping trip and we used a lot of insect repellant. And there were no dragons. Hmmmm….
Before bed one night, I produced a can of “Dragon Repellant.” (It was actually a room deodorizer spray with a conspicuously hand-written label on it. Whatever. She was 3 and a half. It worked.) I sprayed the room and then under the bed and announced that the “Dragon Repellant” would keep the dragons away.
And, it did!
Since those early days of parenting, there have been other fears and tears that no amount of “repellant” would keep away. Gradually, we have all learned a lot about conquering fear. Or rather, allowing the Spirit of God to be a source of confidence, courage and coping. We read verses and learned songs. And mostly, we admitted when we were afraid and needed God to help us.
Isaiah 41:10 (Common English Bible)
Don’t fear, because I am with you;
don’t be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
I will surely help you;
I will hold youwith my righteous strong hand.
Joshua 1:9 (CEB)
I’ve commanded you to be brave and strong, haven’t I? Don’t be alarmed or terrified, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Romans 8:14-16 (CEB)
All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children.
There is a healthy kind of fear. It allows us to retreat and evaluate our safety. That can be healthy and life-sustaining. The fear that God battles for us is very different. It is the kind of fear that paralyzes and causes us to retreat from growing, or pushing past personal pain.
The fear that God conquers is a fear that limits us.
It is a fear that binds.
It takes away our willingness to try something new.
It puts up artificial boundaries.
It creates barriers between us.
It’s been a constant growth experience as I face fears of different kinds. Of learning what kind of courage it takes to speak my mind. (Or to be silent and pray.) To express an opinion. (And to stand up to opposing ones.) To ask hard questions. (And to accept that we won’t agree on the answers.) To take a risk on a new venture. (Or use wisdom and decline.)
What’s so funny about all this as I face my own fears is that people have told me that I inspired them to try something new. And I laughed. Because, well, in the back of my mind, I am quaking in fear, praying, and fearfully spraying “Dragon Repellant” at all of the things that worry or scare me. I’m trying to have faith that conquers these fears.
And even in my fears, God hears and answers. In the saddest, angriest, darkest, most fearful moments, God has been there. I am grateful.
The Light dawns. Hope returns. Blessed be.
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name.
Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
“Blessed be the name of the Lord…”