Fear rips my heart and tears me to shreds when I let it consume me. I have struggled with fear all my life. Why then am I not drowning in it when parenting my adopted child? After all, she comes with baggage – a history of neglect, difficulties attaching to people, prenatal brain damage due to alcohol and drug abuse, Tourettes, severe attention deficits, hyperactivity, and a learning disability. The answer to that question lies in my growing trust in God.
Here are three strategies, rooted in trusting God, which I find helpful when fear strikes:
- I Pray to God.
I tell Him how I feel. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I spill angry words. On good days, I sit in quiet and peace, and my body relaxes. Always I ask…and ask…and ask again for breakthroughs and healing. I also ask for strength and wisdom for me and my husband to parent this precious girl in the best way possible. God knows all my thoughts, my fears, and even my capabilities. I trust that He is up to something good.
- I Focus on God’s Faithfulness.
God remains present amidst the complexities of parenting our daughter. Little coincidences, and scriptures that jump out at me, are some of the ways I notice His guidance. For instance, when my daughter joined our family at the age of six, I wasn’t prepared for her temper tantrums. “I hate you,” she would scream, while hitting and kicking me. Distressed, I joined a bible study. We studied the book Moving from Fear to Freedom by Grace Fox, and after discussing God’s control over our lives, I drove by a church within the same week that had a sign which read: God is in Control. Reflecting on how God speaks to me and remains faithful, calms my spirit.
- I Reflect on Scriptures.
Our minds can be a source of destruction or a pillar of strength. If I let my mind falter by thinking about all the “what if’s” – what if she never learns to read, what if she develops mental health issues, what if she can’t live alone when she grows up, and so on, I become captive to these thoughts. I spiral downhill in a snowball of distress. But anxiety melts away when I turn my thoughts from worry to Scripture. Reflecting on a particular verse clams my mind and helps me to see circumstances in a right perspective. Psalm 46: 10 —“Be still and know that I am God”—3 is one I often say. It reminds me to place my trust in God who is capable of doing great things.
These strategies are breaking my chains of fear. They strengthen me to face difficulties, and help me experience inner peace. I don’t know what the future holds, but with God, I can face it!