You see, when I was a kid I struggled a lot with fear and anxiety. My biggest fear was throwing up. I know that sounds silly, but it was a very real fear of mine that dictated nearly every decision I made.
For example, when I was in third or fourth grade I read somewhere that if you ate thirty minutes before you were physically active, you could get sick. We lived in the desert and swimming was a huge part of our summers. I was also very active in gymnastics. I began to become fearful of eating foods before any of these activities. Then I became fearful of eating in general. I was resentful of the fact that our bodies needed food to survive.
My class would go on field trips and the whole trip I would be terrified that someone would become car sick on the bus. It would occupy every thought of every minute of my day. One time I jumped out of a moving car because someone mentioned they felt a little nauseous. Another time we were at a fellowship gathering at someone’s house and the other kids started teasing me by jokingly saying their stomachs hurt. I was so scared I crawled under the coffee table and plugged my ears so I couldn’t hear what they were saying.
I passed up so many trips, sleep-overs, activities, and food because I let fear control my life. I would pray things like “Lord, I want to do whatever your will for me is, just please don’t send me anywhere or have me do anything too risky, and please, please, please don’t let me get sick.” It wasn’t until I was in high school that the Lord finally began to deliver me from that stronghold on my life. I found my prayers changing from “Please don’t let me get sick” to “Please help me not to be afraid”. It was a slow process of healing from an unhealthy hatred of food and an unnatural obsession to not get sick.
After I got married I felt like I had overcome the fear and anxiety associated with throwing up, but the true test came when my young son became sick for five days with a nasty stomach virus. The first day he was throwing up every half hour around the clock. And while it was gross and not something I preferred to clean up, I didn’t want to run into another room crying. Victory! I can honestly stand before you today and say that fear and anxiety do not dictate who I am and have no place in my life.
Now, when I start to feel any amount of anxiety creeping up into any area of my life, I immediately do exactly what Philippians 4:6-7 tells me to do: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I know too well the grip that fear can have on me and the freedom that I have in Christ, and I never want to go back to those dark days.
I believe that God let me have that experience as a child and young adult to grow in me a passion to help others experience that same freedom that I experienced. The whole purpose of this blog is to encourage people towards living life abundantly in Christ and we can’t do that when things like fear and anxiety have a stronghold in our lives.
Almost every day I pray over my children that they will not know fear and anxiety in their lives. And when Sebastian, our sponsor child through Compassion International, asked me in one of the sweet letters that he sends us, what my favorite Bible verse was, I knew right away what to tell him. For the past three years we have sponsored him and tried to encourage him to turn his fears over to God. He tells us about his struggles in math and how rice and beans are his favorite food and how he is learning about Jesus in the school that he is attending. Then he tells us he loves us and my mommy heart swells to overflowing and nearly bursts because, although he is not my son, we love him too.
This month is blogger month at Compassion International. They are trying to bring hope to kids living in poverty by finding them sponsors so that they can receive a Christian education and clothes and meals. Maybe God has given you unique experiences in life that can be used to encourage a child in poverty. When you sponsor a child, you will get to write letters to that child and the child will write you back. Sebastian draws pictures for us and I hang them on the refrigerator next to my sons’ pictures. We even have a framed picture of him on our gallery wall. Sponsoring him not only helps him, but has been an incredible blessing to us as well.
If sponsoring a child is something your family is considering, now is the time to do it. There are so many kids waiting for sponsors.
Do you have a sponsor child? What would you tell your childhood self?