“Mom, I think you have Arachnophobia.” Cole said from across the living room.
“Probably. Although I don’t mind little spiders, just the big ones that can run faster than me.”
I glanced at our older son to see his reaction, but his ten-year old mind was focused back on the large library book spread over his lap. National Geographic’s Awesome Facts about Everything was opened to a page dedicated to a variety of human fears.
Cole rattled off a long list of phobias, fumbling over some of the strange words, many of which were new to me as well.
“Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number thirteen. Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. Claustrophobia is the fear of tight spaces and no escape. Phobophobia is a fear of fear. Myrmechophobia is a fear of ants. Zoophobia is a fear of animals. Globophobia is a fear of balloons or balloons popping. Astraphobia is a fear of thunder or lightning. Chromophobia is a fear of bright colors. Agoraphobia is a fear of leaving safe places. Anthophobia is a fear of flowers.”
He stopped reading, looked up. “How can anyone be scared of flowers?”
“I don’t know, but some people have spiders for pets and other people climb up to high places on purpose, so there you go. We all have certain things that get to us.”
Later I thought about the long list of fears Cole read off. How some of the fears seemed logical, but others seemed completely illogical. I don’t mind a balloon popping nearby or bright colors or leaving my house to go shopping, but then again I don’t like high places and I cannot handle being in a small space with no way out.
Sharp flashes of my New England childhood came back, memories of being buried under carved-out snow banks with neighbors as we waged snowball wars against each other. I would have taken ten snowball smacks to the cheek rather than stay inside a dug-out snow cave with only one tiny entrance, which was often blocked by someone else coming in or out and topped by a few feet of heavy snow above.
My breath catches just thinking of it.
Cole and I talked about phobias being the result of the Fall. Logical or illogical fears are also a reminder that we’re all uniquely created and respond differently to different stimuli in our environment. Phobias can freeze our lives like ice blocks, keeping us frozen in place with worry about what might happen.
But Jesus didn’t die so we could live frozen.
God’s Word reminds us dozens of times – through command and through the personal experiences of Saints who have come before us – that we don’t need to be afraid. Living in fear of this or that possibly happening is living opposite to the freedom we’ve been given in Christ.
When I’m living fearfully I negate what Jesus did on the Cross.
How I don’t want to do that. How I need His help to fight those phobias that can anchor us to things on the earth, instead of keeping us reaching for things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Jesus gave us the Helper – the Holy Spirit – and His word to cling to. So many times, Scripture has kept me afloat during fearful seasons and tight spaces when fear gripped me like a pair of wet gloves. Because “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
I pray God’s word and His Holy Spirit will give you peace in your fearful storm. His peace surpasses all understanding and will guard your heart and mind through Jesus.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27, NKJV)