I was a very timid child with lots of fears. Very unrealistic fears. Honestly, some of those fears carry over even today.
I do not watch scary movies of any type. I will absolutely leave the room if there’s something scary on the TV. Don’t even ask me to go to the theater for something scary. I have never watched Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street and have no plans to ever see them. I wouldn’t know Freddy Krueger if I saw him face-to-face.
As a kid it was even worse. Do you remember the show Land of the Lost? It had those creepy sleestaks wandering the land and it was on every Saturday morning. Oh. I couldn’t even be in the room if that show was on the TV!
Ghosts. I hate ghosts. I hate shows about ghosts. I hate the thought of haunted houses and haunted hotels. We bought my grandpa’s house, and Roy is convinced my grandpa is still living in the house with us. I don’t handle these things well. I remember being really sick as a child. I woke up in the middle of the night and was firmly convinced my grandmother, who had recently passed away, was sitting in a rocking chair next to my bed. I don’t think I slept for a month.
You want to know the worst one? Scooby Doo. I was terrified of Scooby Doo. All of the mysteries they investigated with their Mystery Machine. Ghosts and goblins and all kinds of monsters. No thank you. I could not handle it.
I don’t know why I had (and still have) so many fears of the craziest things. But there’s one thing I do know: my mom was the master at helping me overcome my fears.
My mom taught me the art of meditating on scriptures from the time I was a small child. My mom taught me to turn to God and His word when I was scared. My mom set the foundation for my life by teaching me one little trick.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
My mom always turned my mind to this verse, a phrase I didn’t even realize was directly from the Bible. When I went to my mom because I was scared, she told me just to repeat these words to myself over and over until the fear went away.
And so I did. I would have a thought of something that scared me, and I would immediately begin to repeat the words to myself.
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. When I am afraid, I will trust in you. When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Over and over the words ran through my mind. Over and over I proclaimed my trust in God. Over and over I turned my mind to the word of God instead of my fears.
And without fail, the perfect peace of God always swept over me and I was able to peacefully drift off to sleep or overcome the fears that plagued me.
I didn’t realize at the time what my mom was teaching me, but she was teaching me some of the most valuable lessons of my life.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
My mom taught me how to experience Isaiah 26:3. She taught me how to focus my mind on Him so that His perfect peace washes over me. There’s no doubt this lesson has served me well over the years. Every now and then, those precious words when I am afraid, I put my trust in you drift through my mind and I am reminded of His precious promises and the truth of how good His peace is.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
The only way to successfully live this Christian life is to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. That takes time. It takes practice. It takes faithfully training our minds to think God’s way, to think on God’s things. It’s a matter of having a daily diet of God’s word to focus our minds. It’s through this transformation that God shows us how to live for Him.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
How do we take our thoughts captive? Exactly the way my mom taught me. When that thought enters our minds—whether it’s a fear or a negative word or a critical thought—we must make a conscious effort to focus on God and His word, to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. That’s the only way to experience His perfect peace. That’s the only way to know God fully and completely.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9
One of my favorite passages! Anxiety and fear are sins. It is not sinful to have anxiety or fear enter our hearts or minds, but it is a sin to allow it to overtake us. We must learn to take it to God in prayer, to leave it at His feet, to train our minds to think on things that are pleasing to God. That’s a lesson that I received from my mom, one that I still constantly try to put into practice. I am definitely blessed to have an amazing mom who taught me these things from a young age.
What about you? What fears and anxieties do you face? How do you overcome? Have you learned the art of training your mind? Maybe like me, you sometimes get off-track and fail to let your mind be trained properly. I think I’m going to pick some special verses and start using them to retrain my thinking. Will you join me?