To be totally honest, when the shock of starting the adoption process wore off, what replaced it was fear.
In my adult life, there have definitely been many seasons where fear has held too much influence in my thoughts and psyche. For years, God has continually brought freedom to the layers of fear that seemed to be woven into aspects of how I operated. As I walk with Him, I’ve seen myself stop living in fear and start stepping into trust in God, freedom in my mind, and the ability to find peace when faced with challenging circumstances.
I have worked to train my brain away from worst case scenarios. Instead, I enjoy imagining best case scenarios as a way to think differently! But when we started moving towards adopting a child the entire trajectory of my life was about to transition to something big, brand new and full of unknown mystery sent me right into the middle of worst case scenarioville once again. I would lie in bed at night as thought after thought of what if’s and dreaded parenting horror stories would keep me awake for hours!
Facing the Fear of Parenting
Adoption in itself has a multitude of potential risks and challenges. If the child is healthy when born and doesn’t have a NICU stay, which feels like a miracle these days even with biological children, there are so many latent complications. These range from digestive issues running rampant in babies to learning, sensory, and behavioral issues, then there is the matter of their spiritual journey.
Are they going to stay connected to God in their childhood into the terrifyingly treacherous teenage years and into adulthood??? What if there is a disastrous accident??? I’ve seen those awful stories in the news. What if my child’s photo ends up on one of those missing child mailers??? What are the odds among all of those concerns that nothing bad will ever happen???
See my point? When it comes to parenting, there is SO much that can go wrong.
Facing imminent parenting with its associated fears brought a level of intensity that would’ve sent me into low level panic if I didn’t have the tools and transformation God has already walked me through. In this season, I’ve found that Scripture has been a weapon and a powerful sword to strengthen my spirit against the enemy of fear that I was facing.
How The Story of David Helps Us Stop Living in Fear
I’ve always been inspired by the story of David. There’s one particular scenario, early in his story, when David brought food to his brothers who were among the army of the Israelites. They were “fighting” the Philistine army and being taunted by the giant, Goliath (1 Samuel 17). The description of the giant inspires great fear, especially if you don’t yet know the story’s ending:
“And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him.”
What is clear from the text is that this was a big dude who was loaded with defensive and offensive strength that could kill many people at once! Not only that, but his words were incredibly intimidating and full of confidence in his ability to do just that.
Sometimes my biggest fears feel just as intimidating, huge and impossible to overcome in my mind. One of my favorite parts of the whole story is when David responds to Goliath’s taunts “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field,” with a taunt of his own.
“You come to me with a sword, with a spear and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with the sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”
Just meditating on those words fills me with remembrance of who my God is and has been in my life. The wild confidence that David has is available to me, too – because we have the same God. After this powerful declaration, David runs at Goliath using the little slingshot he was familiar with and took that giant out with a stone to the head!
David’s knowledge of who his God was far outweighed the fear and intimidation that the giant induced. David was so much more aware of the power of his God that no threat could hook his heart. An entire army was frozen in fear for forty days while one young man was unfazed. God, give us that deep trust!
Steps to Stop Living in Fear
I am quite a practical person and I can’t help but give myself activating steps to take when I want to see change and apply what I’m learning. I was so inspired by David’s courage and strength in God that I memorized his words to Goliath. I began inserting myself into this story. At night when I couldn’t sleep I would imagine myself as David challenging Goliath, but I would see the giant as one of the fears I was facing and I would see myself running at the fear saying the words of David. “….for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into my hands.” And I would see the stone hit the “fear giant” in the head and watch it topple. A sense of peace would come over me and I would sink into restful sleep. I put that on repeat as needed and a sense of victory and faith would rise up in me knowing God is incredibly larger and stronger than my fears.
The Promises of God Are Like Stones to Fling at the Giants of Our Fear
God has given us countless promises about having children and being parents. I have been seeing parenthood as my Promise Land. It’s as if, as we’ve been preparing for parenthood, we’ve had the opportunity to spy out the land and have seen the potential giants that are represented in various fears.
In the story in the Bible (Numbers 13) twelve spies scout out the land and there are two perspectives when they return. Ten were intimidated by the giants that currently presided in the territory of Promise and were more impressed with them than the grapes the size of their heads and the rivers of abundance or the beauty in the potential of the future.
Thankfully there were two men named Joshua and Caleb who had a response in stark contrast to their partner spies. They knew in their heart of hearts that God was greater and stronger than any giants or blockages and that God was true to His promises. They had no fear because they knew their God. He was bigger to them than the giants.
Who Will I Trust?
I had a choice to make. I could continue letting fear rob me and my future as a parent like the ten spies who influenced a nation to shrink back. Or I could proceed in faith like Joshua and Caleb, confident in who God is and keenly aware of His power to defeat anything that hinders full Promise Land occupation. He gives the ability and resources to stop living in fear and live the destiny He has planned for me.
When I surround my thoughts with the truth of who He is as God and who He has been to me, remembering the history of my personal relationship with God and recognizing every past victory, I am convinced the future will be the same. Who has He been to me? He will be no different in the Promised Land of parenting than He has in any other time.
The words that God said to Joshua when he was finally going to lead the Israelites into their Promise Land are still poignant for me today.
5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
He says three times: Be strong and courageous!
He gives a practical step three times to pay careful attention to His word.
He says: Do not be afraid or discouraged.
He says three times: I will be with you.
One by one, together, God and I are taking out the giant fears that try to take up residence in my mind. Instead, I’m dreaming with God of parenting best case scenarios, the beauty of getting to love and grow a tiny human into adulthood, the wonder of their gifts and passions developing, family inside jokes, cuddle time, and the fun of discovering new places together. There is so much to look forward to when I know God will always be with me!
Parenting is the Promised Land I’m moving into, but what is your Promised Land?
What are your fears that you are ready to slay?
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