Those words were so unexpected that they knocked me off my feet. And, yet, I knew exactly what he meant. Without hesitation, I wrote them into my iPhone. I didn’t want to forget what Joel Houston, leader of the Christian band Hillsong UNITED, had just said.
In sharing stories over the years with many, many parents of children with a disability, I’ve learned that fear is the one thing that holds them back the most (myself included).
It can be a fear of failing their child. That somehow it has become their job to coordinate and ensure that he/she receives every bit of support that’s available since no one else is truly on the hook. The enormity of this responsibility brings about a fear that they’ll someday drop the ball and all the progress that’s been made will be undone.
It can be a fear that their child will stop progressing or that they’re not doing enough to help them progress.
It can be a fear of lack of control. That they don’t want their child to be in pain, or to be abused, even die, and they can’t prevent any of those things from happening.
It can be a fear of growing old and wondering how they will be able to keep pace with the physical and emotional demands of their child’s care.
It can be a fear of themselves dying, and worrying what will happen to their child.
And, it can be a fear that they will never experience joy again.
Fear affects everything: your thoughts, your behaviour, your personality.
It is paralyzing.
It puts you on the defensive.
It attacks your confidence, your competence, your self-worth, your energy.
It causes you to constrict, stifles your growth, and stifles your potential.
If you’re fearful, I can tell you that there is no way for you to believe in a future that is bigger than the past which is what we all need to pull us forward.
Even though Jesus tells us repeatedly to not be afraid, why are we?
Cycle of Fear
Well, there are two big contributors I know of:
- the prevalence of the 24-hour news cycle,
- the fact that most of us are connected online, all the time.
You only have to look to the daily headlines which are filled with stories about weather disasters, civil wars, airline tragedies, global recession, political corruption, or terrorist attacks. Over time, these stories amp up our negativity and dominate our world view. None of us are immune.
Let’s be honest. How many of us just have to watch The Today Show or Good Morning America every day? How many of us check our email or Facebook the second we wake up in the morning? Doing these things make it tough to move beyond fear.
What’s worse is that this cycle can become addictive and, like all addictions, we become dependent on it. This can be so easy to do if we’re unclear on where we’re heading in our lives which is too often the case for persons with disabilities and their families.
With all of the stress, bad news, and crises we face, there is this powerful draw to keep us in the life we know. This not only increases our focus on what’s lacking in our lives, of what’s not possible, but it also increases our fear. The tension between the life we know and the life that could be (or should be, or is meant to be) gets tougher to break.
But if Joel Houston’s words are correct, and fear really is a lie, then the truth about your life and your child’s life is out there, somewhere, waiting to be discovered. If so, then the question becomes how do you find that truth?
Coming face-to-face with fear is much too common for us. And no one can dispute that fear causes real pain. But perhaps that’s just a side effect and part of the human condition. None of us are called to be fearful. None of us are called to be living this lie. None of us are called to be living with eyes half shut.
Quite the opposite. We are all called to grow, to expand, and to live freer, fuller lives. We are called to soar!
After Joel’s mini sermon, the band brought it all together with their song, “Prince of Peace”. For days later, these lyrics played over and over in my head:
“And my soul will know
Your love surrounds me when my thoughts wage war.
When night screams terror there Your voice will roar.
Come death or shadow, God I know Your light will meet me there.
And my soul will know
When fear comes knocking there You’ll be my guard.
When day breeds trouble there You’ll hold my heart.
Come storm or battle, God I know Your peace will meet me there.”
The next time I feel fear surrounding me, I’m going to try hard to clear out all the noise, to make time to just breathe, and really listen to what God is telling me. His voice is only as loud as my willingness to listen.
I don’t want to hear the lies. I want to hear the truth!