What to do with Halloween? Does your house go big or go dark? Total immersion or total avoidance? Why does it have to be one or the other? I’m not a fan of Halloween but there’s something that scares me even more. Missed opportunities while my kids are still at home. Ooooooo… woooooo… Boo! (Imagine floating apparition here.)
Why can’t we use this time to our family’s advantage and teach our tribes to redeem every deadly thought, squash every fear and practice walking well in darkness? What would teaching and talking through this season look like?
Well, it looks like truth and lots of it. The Enemy–the Adversary, Accuser, Tempter, Thief and Father of Lies– is a liar and he lies about everything. He lies about good stuff. He lies about bad stuff. He lies about lies and he for sure lies about truth because deception is his very nature. Just as Jesus is “the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE,” Satan is “the DEAD-END, the DECEPTION and DEATH.”
And he does not want you to know the truth, about ANYTHING! Because truth always reveals God. He doesn’t want you to know the truth about fear. The more you understand it Biblically, the more likely you are to overcome it and the more intimately you know your Father. Both are things he hates.
Can I tell you something though? Fearful people create fearful children. I remember once working with a young boy on the Autistic Spectrum in Austin, Tx. He had a major episode every day at recess that ended badly with him overwhelmed, teachers frustrated, and other children frightened. We would have extremely successful mornings that would just unravel after lunch. So, I started going outside with him to observe what was triggering the episodes. It didn’t seem to be other children bothering him, it wasn’t noise, etc… I watched him walk completely peacefully and contently around the playground… until a fly came near him. And there it was– the trigger. He was terrified of flying insects. It didn’t matter if they were big or little, bees or ladybugs. Each and every one horrified him. I put together a strategy to start dismantling this fear and that afternoon I asked his mother to meet me outside my office to discuss our plan. In the middle of our conversation, a fly whizzed by her face and I saw virtually the same reaction as the young boy’s, except on a 35-year-old woman.
The more the boy and I worked to overcome his “fear” I realized it wasn’t really his fear at all, it was his mom’s. He actually thought the bugs were quite fascinating, but scream, yell and run as though you might perish was all he had ever seen and so it seemed like the right response.
It doesn’t matter the age or experience, “normal” kids, “special” kids… just kids in general are looking to the adults around them to show them how to respond TO EVERYTHING. How you respond to difficult people, unplanned problems, stress or scary situations is writing the instruction manual for your kids. And their kids. One more time… YOU ARE WRITING THE INSTRUCTION MANUALS FOR YOUR KID’S BEHAVIOR (and the people around you)… WITH YOUR BEHAVIOR.
I promise you friend, we can talk about fear for a week and at the end you will be less afraid. Avoiding scary things is not the same as being brave. You understanding fear rightly, means you helping your family understand fear rightly and that changes things, forever. You ready?
What is fear?
Try and answer that. Chances are you will come up with answers like “being afraid,” “scared,” “Uncertain?” What is scared? Afraid? That’s annoying, isn’t it? But I’m a breaker-downer by nature, words, scripture, behavior. Take it to its most basic meaning and then rebuild anew. There’s meaning here, I promise. Imagine you are trying to explain what fear is to a child. How would you?
What examples would you use?
I once asked my young son what makes him afraid. His responses were things like: “A scary movie preview,” he saw a preview for The Quiet Place, and it really bothered him. “Afraid of scary dogs,” I gotta agree after being chased by one this week. Woof. He also said he was “afraid when Berk (his sister) did dangerous things she’s not supposed to.” Now that’s just sweet. And made sense. Emerson about had a fit that week because Berk kept criss-crossing driveways and the street on her bike.
What does fear feel like?
I asked him what it felt like. “I get hot. I feel nervous.”
For me, I can’t concentrate when I am afraid or anxious. I cannot think about anything else fully until the source of my fear has been resolved. Ever waited on test results? Holy moly. Watched your child run into the street or that split second when you can’t find them in a store? Oh. My. Word! I am going to start billing my children for blood pressure medication.
Here is a little peek into the reality of ministry in this season: Not often, because we are in churches that are very proactive at keeping everyone safe, but on more than a few occasions I have been in fight or flight mode in the middle of a Sunday morning. From where I sit, I can see the whole room. And seeing someone “out of place” walk in the backdoor, down the aisle and way far to the front? I find myself feeling tingly, hot, and either closing my Bible and putting it down or getting ready to stand. It’s usually nothing but tell my brain that! It takes a few seconds to get back to normal. Have you ever had an experience like that?
Fear has a feel. What does it feel like for you?
Did you know that PROLONGED fear can be physically bad for you? Bad for your body? It can burn out nerves, fatigue muscles, cause shortness of breath, further anxiety or panic, even paranoia. Fear begins reactions in your body to prepare you for fight or flight. But once the threat is gone, lingering fear has the opposite effect. In short, fear is physically not good for you, your body was not designed to sustain it.
By definition, fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc. Whether the threat is real or imagined, fear is the feeling or condition of being afraid. Or anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur.
All of my son’s “triggers” have something in common, all of my fears have something in common. We are uncertain of what will happen, nervous that what will happen will be bad. That’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it? Fear is being worried what might happen, might be bad.
A pretty normal part of life, right? Maybe not.
If it is so normal. Why would God, who created us, who knows every natural thought, response, and inclination (because He perfectly designed them) take such care to tell us “Don’t be afraid?”
There is an answer there and we need to know it, not just for scary movies or a spooky holiday, but for when death robs us life or loved ones, hurricanes destroy everything we know, and the world seems hopelessly dark.
God intends we have an answer for fear that is rooted in Him. What better time to get it nailed down and practice living and sharing it than Halloween? Stay tuned to Hey Salty Lady for our next Halloween posts, “Whom Shall I Fear?” and “Raising Brave.”
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