Fear is the enemy of Joy
I’ve told the story so many times of how excited and astonished we were to find out we were expecting a miracle baby in 2019. It’s like Christmas morning, every morning, I explained.
And this was true.
I also told the story of how we had to battle worry and fear over the baby surviving. Because more than a decade of infertility doesn’t disappear from our history–so our excitement was tempered by a desire to hide from hope. To expect the worst case scenario so we wouldn’t be surprised by sorrow.
And this was also true.
But the deepest part of the story I kept quiet. Because it was something I needed to process with the Lord, with those walking close to me, with my own heart.
Every single time I shared my excitement over our pregnancy, I battled a deep fear.
One that threatened to steal all the joy from this miracle.
One that couldn’t be easily rectified.
I feared the impact having a biological baby would have on my adopted children.
I feared my excitement over this baby would hurt them.
I feared the trauma from their own stories would be triggered by the baby.
I feared how our home would shudder and moan at the weight of these added struggles.
The fear was so great at one point that I knelt down and told God, in no uncertain terms, that if this baby would cost me my other children–I didn’t want it. I didn’t want a miracle that would break my other kids. I didn’t want my dreams fulfilled for myself if it meant hurting them.
Of course, that prayer brought it’s own feelings of guilt–because of course I wanted my baby. But the fear was eating me inside and I was fighting to process it, to handle it, to find a way to breathe around it. So I carried the ugliest parts of me to the Lord and said the things I knew were wrong, but that I couldn’t get right without His help.
Over the years I’ve learned one important fact: God gets it. He knows us. He’s not going to reject me in shock, even when I’m questioning the gifts He’s given me.
I wanted a promise from Him, of course. A guarantee that everything would be easy. That sorrow wouldn’t be able to wind it’s way into our home and choke the happiness from us. But God didn’t answer me with the words I’d created for Him. He chose His own Words and brought them in His own way.
In this case, He sent a close friend to share truth with me. When I told her about my fears and my concerns, she offered endless compassion but also one very true reminder: “God didn’t forget about your big kids, Tasha. He gave you a baby now and maybe it needs to be now? Maybe you just don’t see or understand all the reasons?”
The baby I was carrying wasn’t just a gift for me–she was for my whole family. She wasn’t just God’s answer for my heart, but for the hearts of my husband and my other children as well.
I realized in that moment that if I wasn’t careful, I was going to let fear steal our joy. In focusing on the things that could go wrong, I wouldn’t be able to properly celebrate the things that were going so very right.
Instead, I needed to speak truth into my own thought patterns. If there were negative repercussions from having a biological baby after adoption, we’d face them. Just like we had with all the other hard days before this. But I didn’t need to borrow trouble from tomorrow.
Now, two years later, I can tell you what happened.
I can tell you that it has been hard. My older children have struggled and been triggered and felt like maybe we don’t need them anymore because we have “our own” baby. So many of my fears came into play–and maybe more will in the years to come.
But I can also tell you this: our joy hasn’t been stolen.
Our trust in the Lord and His timing and His goodness has undermined the ability for fear to steal from us.
Because this baby has also been part of the binding together of our family. The building of memories. The building of natural attachment– something neither of my older children knew or understood until their baby sister arrived.
I still remember both of them, on separate occasions, saying, “Mom, how did we get the cutest baby in the whole world?” and I laughed and said, “We didn’t. But it’s good that you think we did because that just means you’re properly attached to her–just the way God designed for families to be.” And both kids looked at me with wide-eyed stares. Because in our home we talk a lot about working at attachment but good glory this attachment came easy for them. For the first time in their lives, natural from-birth attachment became part of their stories.
Rushing, overwhelming, heart-swelling JOY.
Of course, this is all good and well in theory, but how do you combat fear when it’s prowling around the edges of your mind? I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you some of the things I did to fight for joy.
3 Ways to Win Against Fear
1. Recognize the difference between feeling fear and agreeing with fear.
There is absolutely nothing you can do to stop the feelings of fear. Your body’s natural reaction to fearful things is built in for your safety–to help you survive. The choice comes in when you decide what to do with the feeling. When your body goes into alert mode, there is a moment where you get to agree or disagree with the fear. Take advantage of that moment and allow the peace of God to calm your fears.
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.” Philippians 4:6-7 (emphasis mine)
2. Actively make choices that follow truth instead of “what if’s”.
When we are walking in fear, we make different choices. We worry, we repeat scenarios in our head, we live in an imagined future instead of in the present. As a friend of mine once said, “If you’re going to repeat something, make sure it’s the things of God.”
When you realize your mind is trapped in “what-if” scenarios, make the decision to stop and speak true things you know about God instead. If you can’t identify anything true, pray until you do.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (Emphasis mine)
3. Bring your fears to light– to God, to friends or counselors, to family.
Naming your fears aloud helps put them in their place. Telling someone you trust about your struggle can help identify what parts of the fear are real and what parts are imagined.
Sharing your fear with others also gives them the ability to pray over you, for you, and for the situation. Part of the job of the church is to intercede for each other, but we can’t pray for things we don’t know about. And more than that? Telling God your fear opens your heart to recognize His presence. No matter what you’re facing, God is there. He knows He’s there, but sometimes we forget. Talking to Him reminds our hearts where He is.
Right here with us.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”Isaiah 41:10
So, friend: let us cling to the presence of God. Let us hold tight to the stories of JOY. Let’s face the fear without allowing it to steal from us. When there is a battle in our lives, let’s choose the side of joy and trust.
Excellent words of advice. Thank you for sharing. My two verses I repeat daily, Isaiah 41 and Philippians 4.