Fighting Fear in Motherhood
I want to preface this post by saying that there are varying levels of anxiety and fear. Counseling, medications, and facilities are often necessary and can be extremely helpful for anxiety. I have benefited immensely from counseling through different seasons of my life and if I could, I would pay for everyone to go through counseling.
Fear is something that I have personally struggled with in the past and something that I’m still fighting today. In fact, according to my test results from the enneagram test, anxiety is basically part of my personality. (yay) I’m not writing this post from a perspective of “I don’t fear anything so you shouldn’t either,” I’m writing in from a perspective of someone who often functions out of a mindset of fear. I’ve seen first hand how it can steal my joy, my creativity, and the desires that God has placed in me. I’ve also begun to experience the freedom of fearlessness during the times when I stop being afraid and trust in the Lord. It’s life-changing.
Have you seen the movie Baby Driver? It’s not necessarily my favorite movie but it’s about a boy called “Baby” who was in a car accident, and because of the accident he has a constant ringing in his ears. To drown out the ringing, Baby always wears headphones.
For me, anxiety is like that constant ring in Baby’s ears. I can try to drown it out with other things in my life but it always seems to be there, underlying, constant, and unrelenting.
I’ve been thinking about why mother’s these days, who have almost every conceivable resource at our finger-tips, experience more anxiety than ever before. We are promised that if we just buy this certain noise machine or if we just have this one chew toy then we can control the crazy teething baby and put the non-sleeping baby to sleep. All of these gadgets give us the illusion that we are in control when in reality we aren’t in control today, and we never were in control.
That’s a lot of where our anxiety comes from, isn’t it? We are desperate to control our babies, our husbands, our families, and when we can’t, we become terrified. Fear, the ultimate destroyer of joy and life. It’s a vicious cycle. We try to control our worlds and when we can’t we become afraid of what will happen so we try harder to control etc..
Staci Eldredge says from her book “Becoming Myself” that “Fear in its mildest, tamest form is a party pooper. It is a wet blanket that smothers the fiery passion God deposited in your heart when he formed you. Fear freezes us into inaction. Frozen ideas, frozen souls, frozen bodies can’t move, can’t dream, can’t risk, can’t love, and can’t live. Fear chains us.
Fear doesn’t just incapacitate us from enjoying life, it steals our deepest desires and who we are at our core. As mothers, we sacrifice our independence and our time for our children, but this does not mean that we have to give up all of our desires and hopes that God has placed in us for a purpose. Motherhood has brought me to a fork in the road in my life. I can either delve further into the fear that I am so familiar with and get lost in it, or I can turn to Jesus.
One of the things I admire most about the Proverbs 31 woman is her fearlessness. “She laughs without fear of the future.” is one of the most popular inspirational quotes to hang in our daughter's nurseries. But what does that actually look like?
The word “laugh” always confused me. It feels almost trite like she has complete disregard for the sufferings of this world. But that’s not what she’s doing. The Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t laugh because she doesn’t care, she cares a great deal. She works extremely hard for her family, she plans ahead, and she runs her household well. What impresses me the most about her is that after she makes her plans wisely, she doesn’t look ahead and worry about all the “what if’s,” she looks at her future with hope because she knows that God is in control. And even if her wisely set plans to fail, she trusts that God has a better plan for her life and her family.
Unlike the Proverbs 31 woman we often set plans for the future, worry about those plans, think of every conceivable thing that could go wrong with our plan and then anxiously await the day that our plan falls apart.
If fear is so crippling, what are we supposed to do? The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear. This is not the kind of love that humans give because try as we might to love unconditionally, we will fail. This love is the love that God shows us when he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross.This is the only kind of love that will rid us of our fears because it is the only love that is perfect, unconditional, and gives us hope beyond this life.
I don’t know about you, but just taking a few deep breathes when I’m anxious usually doesn’t help me a whole lot. The reason I’ve taken the time to write about and explain fear is that I want us to realize the detrimental effects it can have us. I don’t want us as mothers to live the rest of our lives worrying about our children and not living out our passions that God has placed in us. I want us to see that in order to practically fight this fear in our day to day lives we cannot sit ideally by wishing our fears away. We have to fight them. Our minds are too overwhelmed with the tasks of the day to hope that our fears will somehow just go away.
For me specifically, I tend to fear the future which can include anything from traveling, to how many children we’re going to have. One way I try to fight this is through thankfulness. There is a quote by Robert Holden that says “the real gift of gratitude is the more grateful you are, the more present you become.” This has been huge for me in my mental fight with fear. If I focus on things I am grateful for, I am more content in the moment and don’t have time to worry about the future. As mothers, we must find tangible ways to fight the worry that surrounds us, our children and our families.
If you’re a parent, think back to when your baby or child would wake up and cry in the middle of the night for you. Not because they are hungry or hurting, they just want to know that you are near. So often that’s what we need to hear from our heavenly Father, and he tells us in Isaiah 41:10 to “Fear not” for I am with you.” God doesn’t promise that we won’t have suffering or hardships in this life. And contrary to popular belief he doesn’t tell us that he won’t give us more than we can bear either. But he does tell us that he is with us.
As a new mother and a woman whose God-given passion is to see other women and moms thrive in who God has made them. My deepest desire for you is that if you struggle with fear and anxiety, that you will seek help wherever that may be, and that you will also turn to Jesus who loves you and wants you to live fearlessly.