Growing up on a dead-end road had its advantages but, when it comes to being afraid of things at night, it wasn’t so great. Our childhood home was located near the end of the street adjacent to an empty field and a lot of trees.
The house was an older home and small, but still had two stories. In Michigan, nearly all the homes have basements and the basement in this home, was one straight out of the horror movies. It was dark, cold, and dusty with cracked cement and bricks lining the walls.
My room in the house was located on the first floor while my sister and mother had separate rooms upstairs. It had two windows, one looking out over the field next door and one higher up facing the backyard. Early on, the house had creaky hardwood floors that were eventually replaced with lovely 70s green carpet and paneling on the walls.
Needless to say, that house talked a lot at night. Between the strange noises coming from the basement where the heater was located, the creaky floors, and just the noises it made when the wind blew, I found myself terrified at night many times. The fear would grip me so strong, at times I couldn’t move.
It didn’t help that I had watched the occasional monster movie (Dracula) and the television show Night Stalker with Darren McGavin who investigated every kind of creepy crime they could think of. Now, that show kept me awake many nights.
To combat the fear, I built out an army of stuffed animals to surround me in bed. I had every size of stuffed dog, cat, and even snakes. It was a site to behold. But, I knew as long as my ‘shaggy’ was there, I would be safe.
Another factor that contributed to the fear was the fact that a lot of young men in town found my mother quite attractive. So much so, on several occasions, we were visited by ‘peeping Tom’s’. One night, we were all watching television when my mother screamed as she could see someone just outside the window staring at us. She ran to the kitchen, grabbed a broom, and ran outside chasing him down the street! I will never forget that…
So, not only did I have the house noises, and scary thoughts from the television shows, but I had to think about someone looking through the window at me next to my bed. You may be asking, ‘why didn’t you just go to your mother’s room when you were scared?’ The answer is, I was so scared, I couldn’t get a word out to call her and, because she was upstairs, I thought she wouldn’t have heard anyway.
I relay those memories to say that fear has no boundaries. It affects every person young and old. Granted, there are those who like getting scared as long as it’s somewhat safe, but that wouldn’t be me. Fear also creates powerful memories in us that we carry for a lifetime. I will never forget those times when I was frozen stiff in fear after hearing a knock or creaking sound from the basement.
The reason we retain those memories is a good one, though. It’s our mind’s way of protecting us from possible harm in the future. Those fears create in us the ‘fight or flight’ triggers that help keep us safe.
Unfortunately, for some, it doesn’t take a scary television show or a bump in the night. It may be as simple as touching a stranger’s glass, holding onto a door handle in public, or breathing the air after someone sneezes. I struggle with those ‘OCD’ issues from time-to-time and can relate. If left unchecked, those small fears will add up to create issues simply functioning in life.
We have so many fears, that it’s impossible to list them all here, but I’ve found an interesting site that does. Reading through the list, I found myself amazed at just how diverse they are. I’m no psychologist, but having to deal with some of these fears, I can see why they prescribe drugs which may help for a time.
One thing that I know works, is giving those fears over to God and letting Him fill your heart with His peace. Fear is about holding on. Faith, on the other hand, is about letting go. When we hold onto those things that we’re afraid of, they will keep us in their grip. When we let go of them, which is an act of faith & trust, then they can no longer hold onto us.
So, tonight, here’s to taking a step toward letting go of those things we fear the most. It may seem like a small thing to some, but I know that fear, if it has you in its grip, can be a big deal. I’ll be praying for us all tonight to have the courage to begin to let go of even the smallest of our fears. It will be a process, but I know He will never let you down and will always be there to walk with you past even the least of your fears…
Love always my friends,