Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Comfort for when you are dealing with fear, stress, or anxiety.

When our first born, Preston, was just two years old, we took him to a resale shop that was having its grand opening. The store was Once Upon a Child, and they had a couple of people in Dora and Diego costumes waving to people out by the street to create excitement and draw people in. We pointed them out to Preston as we pulled into our parking spot, thinking he was going to love it. Well, we were wrong. Preston immediately started expressing his disinterest in them, using words like "scary" to describe them. We reassured him that they were out by the street, so he had nothing to worry about. We took him into the store and began our shopping. While we were in the store, however, the "costumes" decided to come in and greet the children. I wouldn't have even known that Dora and Diego were in the store except for Preston's reaction to them. He ran over to the corner of the store and wedged himself into the corner and started yelling, "SCARED," while sobbing. I looked over at him and saw him being hysterical. From what I could tell, there was nothing wrong around him, but he was clearly panicking, which made me scared. I asked him, "Preston, what's wrong?" and then he pointed, and I realized what was happening. Other kids were lining up to hug Dora and Diego, taking pictures, laughing, and having a great time. Meanwhile, my child was being traumatized. He kept staring at the "costumes" like he was seeing the Devil himself. "PRESTON! Look at mommy!" I tried to shout over his crying. I wanted to reassure him it was okay, but I couldn't get him to look away from the thing that was scaring him. "Look at mommy, Preston! You're okay!" Eventually I had to give up on the idea of consoling him while in the store and carry him out of the store. He settled down once we were outside. Just a few minutes later, though, Dora and Diego came outside, and we had to start the calming process all over again. For months afterward, any time we went to a store, he would ask if there were going to be any "costumes" there, and we would have to tell him, "No, Preston, there will not be any costumes at Walmart." (or JCPenney. . . or wherever we happened to be going that day).

Preston is almost seven years old now and has completely forgotten about his first trip to Once Upon a Child, but I still think back to that moment sometimes. . . The moment when he had a choice to make: to look at me and be reassured and comforted, or to continue to look at the thing that was scaring him and feed his fear.

Where do you look to when you are afraid?  There are times when I am more like my two-year-old son than I would like to admit. Sometimes I stare at my fears until they look bigger than they really are, when I really should be looking to God and praying in faith, knowing that God's got me and it's going to be alright. I have been reading the Psalms lately in my devotional time, and I have been reminded over and over again of many things. Here are just a few:
1. God comforts us with his love and faithfulness, 
2. God offers peace as we trust in him,
3. God offers his protection and provision as we look to him. 
I have been sharing some podcasts this week from my Pastor, Gene Tanner, on the names of God, because I have found that taking the focus off of myself, my worries, my fears, and my stresses, and reflecting on the names of God instead has been a great source of strength and comfort for me, and I wanted to pass that on. Today we are going to look at another name of God. Jehovah Shalom translates to "The Lord is Peace."  If you could use some peace in your life today, you might want to check this one out. Click on the link below:
Jehovah Shalom

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