Today, I am asking you to consider carefully the news articles you share on Facebook. Because, somewhere in your friends list, there’s a mommy – just like me.
Not too long ago, I was experiencing weeks of unrest due to anxiety and fear. At that time there were a few particular stories being shared consistently on Facebook. These stories spoke of horrible things, the least of which were the abductions of children. Did you hear me? The LEAST of the horrible things being shared…was of the abductions of children. I have learned that, as mom with young children, I’m very sensitive to these stories and it is one reason I do not own a TV or buy a newspaper. Even in conversations, I’ve stopped someone mid-sentence and asked them to, please, not share it with me. I know many people share these news articles with the intention of making others more aware, but perhaps my story will help you realize how the sharing of horrible events and detailed stories can often do more harm than good.
How often have I clicked on a news story and read it, only to wish I’d never seen it? Too many. One time was enough for me to realize that I don’t want to read these stories. So, I avoid them and often ‘hide’ friends who share them all too frequently.
While I’ve learned not to read these stories, oftentimes the words in the title are so vividly descriptive you don’t have to read the article to know what happened. And though I scroll past as quickly as I can, the words are still there, ingrained into my mind. It’s as though the things I don’t want to remember…are the things I always do.
It begins as a sudden sharp pain. Oh Lord…why? Why do you allow this? I’ll move on, trying to focus on the tasks of the day, but the damage has been done. The words have been read. Hours, perhaps days, will pass and my mind won’t be particularly busy and in an instant the words and images will return. Stealing my thoughts, my time, and tormenting my heart. At night, the thoughts hit full-force. The instant I turn out the lights and lay my head to rest, the thoughts and images come to me. Images I’ve never seen, created by words read as I scrolled through my newsfeed. I think of my own beautiful babies and the anxiety begins to take hold of me. What-ifs, situations, and downright fear begin to grip my heart with such ferocity that I’m unable to push them aside.
The final straw for me happened one night, when a woman shared a prayer request in a prayer group I’m a part of. I couldn’t believe how detailed she was. I was, literally, sick to my stomach.
Friends, that night was a battle. I laid in bed, my mind unable to think on anything but these horrible stories. I couldn’t sleep, so I checked all the locks and doors multiple times. My heart was tormented. After a few hours I crawled into bed with one of my children. Holding them close, I placed my arm protectively over their sweet little body. There in the stillness, I battled with horrible thoughts and images, pleading for a precious peace that only God can give.
How often have I fought fear in the dark of the night? How often have I been tormented by the horrors of this world? Lord, I know you have everything in your control – why do I still feel this way?
The darkness and silence of the night seem to magnify the presence of fear. Stories and images threatening to steal my peace. Lord, please take these thoughts away from me. I’ve prayed His protection over my household since the day I brought my babies home and yet here I am again, fighting these demons of fear. There have been many nights when, multiple prayers have been uttered – having woken from dreams or noises, even been back-to-back prayers when my spirit has remained unsettled and I’ve asked my husband to please, pray again.
I know, if I don’t stop the thoughts right now, they’ll be back tomorrow and the next day and the next. If I don’t handle them the right way, I will be weakened and unable to fight them off when I need to the most.
In those moments of silence and darkness, with my children in their room and I in mine, I need a complete and total peace of mind to be able to close my eyes and drift to sleep. I need complete and total faith in something far greater than myself. I need Him.
Indeed, the devil is my adversary. He has studied me with a trained and strategic eye and knows exactly what will unsettle me and bring me unrest. And though he may try to pull my mind and heart away from the promises the Lord has granted me, HE CANNOT take those promises away! In my weakness, the Lord is strong. If God be for me, who shall be against me? Whom shall I fear?? The Lord knows me by name and has numbered the hairs on my head. Has he not granted me my children and placed His hand over us? Are we not told that He will encompass us with a host of angels? He wants our faith and trust to rest in Him and not in the things of this world.
The Word of God is a sword to be used daily. It’s so important to know the scriptures, to read them and pray them out loud until they become so familiar to us that they replace the thoughts and images we battle against. There is power there and change will happen, given a chance. I know that the devil won’t stop. But neither will I. I refuse to allow fear to control me, paralyze me, and hold me back.
I believe that God is with us in whatever turmoil or struggle we face, even amidst the the worries and anxious thoughts. God is always greater. He is always stronger. He gives us the power to live courageously, without fear. His Word is Truth. Just give it to Him. Again. And again. I trust that if you replace your fearful thoughts with His words of truth you will sleep with peace tonight.
Yes, I may still be afraid, but I believe He is with me. I may not be in control, but I know I can trust the One who is. I may not know the future, but I know the God who does.
I can’t stop people from sharing these articles on Facebook and I can’t promise myself I’ll never hear another horrible story. But I can promise that I will not allow fear and anxiety to control my life. I will guard my heart and I will focus my mind on what is TRUTH in the midst of uncertain circumstances.
I do hope you will take my story into consideration. Because somewhere, there’s a mommy just like me scrolling through her newsfeed.
Inspired my dad, who printed out 4 sheets of Bible verses regarding God’s promises with the intention of reading them each night before prayer, I have found 25 scriptures that remind us that we do not have to fear. I have printed these out and placed a copy next to my bed. If you suffer from fear and anxiety, I encourage you to print these verses out and place them somewhere you can read them every day. His words are “life” words, soothing to our soul, calming to our spirits, and giving power to our days.
1. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
2. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
3. “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27
4. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
5. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
6. “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19
7. “But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
8. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
10. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
11. “Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” Isaiah 35:4
12. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Luke 12:22-26
13. “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
14. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22
15. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
16. “’For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,’ declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:13-14
18. “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” Psalm 118:6-7
19. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25
20. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:39-40
21. “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.” 1 Peter 3:14
22. “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
23. “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22
24. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38-39
25. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” from Psalm 91:1-16