The kids have been wanting a pet for years. That is with the exception of my youngest son. He’s afraid of animals. My mom has Shih Tzus and he’s been afraid of those since he could walk. He’s been doing better with them lately and I thought maybe he’d outgrown his fear. So we decided to go to the animal shelter to see what they had. The three kids wanted a pet were forewarned that we were just looking. We had to be sure dad’s allergies weren’t going to bother him and that their little brother would be okay with having a cat.
Our intentions were to see if they had a certain breed of cat that is better for people with allergies. That breed wasn’t there but we saw a kitten and of course we fell in love with it. We went home, and after some discussion, my husband and I decided to give the kitten a chance. Our animal shelter has a great program that allows you to take the animal home overnight to see if it will work with your family. That was perfect for us since there were two members of our family that were a questionable fit for a cat. The shelter already closed for the weekend so we had to wait til Monday. After lunch on Monday we picked up the seven-month-old cat. The older three kids were in heaven. She was the center of attention for hours. I kept an eye on my youngest son, but he seemed to be doing okay. He was interested in the kitty, but a little unsure.
Finally, I told the kids to leave the cat alone for awhile. The kids watched TV while I was busy in the kitchen. Twenty to thirty minutes passed and the kitten decided to see where everybody was. She went into the living room and jumped on the couch right next to my four-year-old. He screamed and cried as he scurried to separate himself from the cat. I picked him up and tried to calm him down. I wasn’t sure if the cat just surprised him or if he truly was afraid. A yellow flag went up for me. I kept a closer eye on him.
During dinner you could see he was cautious, but felt protected by mom and dad, so his guard came down just a bit. After dinner the other kids went to play with the kitten. My son felt just brave enough that he wanted to see her, so we went together. He stood in the doorway and watched the kitten being playful as she pounced all over the girls’ bedroom. He seemed to be enjoying himself until the cat decided to dart out the door he was standing in and went right between his legs. He screamed in terror. He couldn’t get away fast enough. I picked him up. He clung to me, wrapping his arms and legs around me with his head buried in my shoulder. While I tried to comfort my boy, I knew then he was truly scared.
As I began to think about it more, I realized he had been either on the couch or on his brother’s bed all day. Normally he’s very active. He plays on the floor or flies his planes around our house. He’s very silly and loves to dress up like a superhero, then show us his “superspeed.” But he hadn’t been doing any of that today because he was scared of the cat. I knew then the cat had to go. I felt bad that my boy had been in fear all day. I was also saddened because the other kids and I fell in love with this cat. She had such a sweet personality. We loved having her around. I felt like I had to choose between my son being scared all the time or my other three kids being brokenhearted. However, the deal was everyone in the family had to be okay with whatever pet we got. I couldn’t have my son living in fear.
Since I also really wanted to keep our new found friend, I tried talking to my son. I let him know the cat wouldn’t hurt him. She just wanted to play with him. He told me he liked the kitty but didn’t want her to jump on the couch with him or run around. There was just no way to get him to understand he didn’t need to be afraid. His maturity level couldn’t comprehend that he wasn’t in any real danger. I walked to the back of the house to break the sad news to the other kids. There were tears all around. Even I cried as we relished the last hours we had with the cat we called Sadie. It’s amazing how quickly we fell in love with her.
My heart ached. I was torn for all of my children. It seemed there would be no winners here, no matter what choice was made. I went back to the front of the house where my four-year-old was keeping a safe distance from Sadie. He had no idea of the tears and sadness going on. I wanted to be angry at him for being afraid but reminded myself he was only four. It’s my job as his parent to give him the best environment to grow in. I couldn’t make him live with something he feared. Whether that fear was truly dangerous or not. He had to feel safe in his own home.
All of this thinking about fear made me wonder…what kinds of fears are running around in me? How have my fears affected people close to me and I wasn’t even aware of it? I know I fear things—silly things, real things. Fear has been one of the things I’ve dealt with often in my life. Yet, my God is patient with me and the things I fear. Once in awhile I know He’s working with me on fear. The antidote for fear is faith, trust, and love.
There’s a saying that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. In other words, the devil gets you to believe his lies. When you do, fear enters your heart. God, however, has given us the Bible to show us what truth is. When we build our faith upon the truth of His Word, lies are broken. Sometimes the Lord has broken my fear by disarming lies the enemy has been crafty to feed me.
At other times fear is not an issue of believing lies, but of trusting God. All of us face situations where we have to choose if we will trust God with the outcome. Being a parent is an opportunity to trust God. Trust Him with your child’s future, current provisions, well-being, health, on and on you could go with this list. God has shown my husband and I time and time again that the Great I Am is worthy of our trust through providing for us both needs and wants.
Still other times He’s dealt with my fears by sweetly showing me over and over His unconditional love for me. He sends down what I call “kisses from Heaven” to show me His love. Sometimes it’s in a song or a friend saying they prayed for me. The littlest thing can be kisses that shatter my fears with His unending love for me. God’s perfect love casts out all fear. (I John 4:18)
Just as I don’t want my child to live in fear, neither does the Lord want His children living in fear. Fear is not from God. Fear pulls you inward. It puts you in defense mode. Just like it did with my son when he wasn’t being his normal playful self. Fear keeps you from living free—from being who God created you to be. This is not how God wants His people to live. Jesus came to proclaim freedom for the captives and release prisoners (Isaiah 61:1 NIV), to set the oppressed free and break every yoke (Isaiah 58:6b NIV). Jesus came to give us life and to give it abundantly. (John 10:10) God wants you to be free from fear.
I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4 (NIV)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7 (King James 2000 Bible)
The Spirit of the sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)