I love the way that a deep revelation of the truth can completely disarm irrational fears. God has a way of showing up with His truth and turning on the light, which leaves no place for darkness to reside.
I did a beach trip with the kids one morning last week. It was beautiful and absolutely refreshing. As we were trekking across the sand back to the trail that led to our car, my 4 year old Judah was far ahead of me, and my 2 year old far behind. I stayed in the middle and watched the one in front, asking him to slow down, while at the same time continuing to check on the one behind and urging him to move faster. Before I realized what was happening, Judah (way ahead of me) was surrounded by seagulls and was running and crying, as they "chased" him. "Mommy they're scaring me!" I made out as he cried for help. I could see clearly what was going on. He had a couple big seashells in his hand. No doubt, the seagulls were after what appeared to be food in Judah's hand. I knew he would be okay. I yelled for him turn around and chase them, and run back to me (not wanting to get too far away from my toddler behind me), but I don't think he heard me. They finally left him alone as he reached the wooden walkway back to the parking lot.
When I finally reached him, I gave him a hug and told him I was so sorry. "I'm scared of seagulls Mommy." Oh great. Honestly, that's the first thing I thought. No, my fearless child cannot become afraid of a bird. I knew the seagulls were just after what was in his hand. I knew the reasonable thing to do was for him to "chase" the seagulls away. I wanted to just wave my hand and erase the memory so he would go back to the Judah I know, and chase seagulls down the beach as he's always done. But when we have an experience like this, its not that easy.
As we walked back to the car, I knew he needed to process this. I asked the Holy Spirit for wisdom with words. "So Judah, the seagulls scared you?" "Yes, I'm scared of them now." I asked him, "Why are you afraid of them? What made you afraid?" Here comes the irrational part: "Because I thought they were going to eat me." Ahhh. That totally makes sense a kid would believe that. So I told him, "They can't eat you, their mouths are too small." And the light turned on. He repeated it to me a couple times. I also reminded him, "You are bigger than the seagulls, you can chase them and they will fly from you!" Then, we talked about what really happened. "Judah, do you know why the seagulls were really chasing you? It was because you had shells in your hand, and they thought the shells were food. So they wanted to get what was in your hand." Another light popped on. He had heard and understood the truth. I prayed for him, and as we drove home and he further processed "what really happened," I believe his fear for seagulls was disarmed.
We need each other. We have to stop telling each other "Don't be afraid!" and begin validating one another's feelings and experiences as real. And then, lovingly support each other in seeing and choosing the truth. The Lord is Truth. He absolutely wants us to be free from all constraining fears so that we can run down the "beach" of life full of joy, abandonment, and confidence, knowing we are sons and daughters of a Father who's all powerful and always present.