My grandmother was a woman who was gripped by fear, and it literally controlled her life. Granny was afraid to stay alone at night, so her mother, my great grandmother, would walk next door each night carrying her pillow and blanket to stay with Granny. After my great grandmother passed away, Granny was fearful of staying alone. Since we lived a block away, she asked my parents to let me stay with her at night. So, every night for many months, I would walk through the field to my grandmother’s house so she would not be alone.
Interesting things happened while staying with Granny at night. She had a shotgun style house, which means if you walked in the front door, you could see from the front door to the back door. The front room was the living room, and the fourth room was the kitchen. Between those two rooms were two bedrooms.
My grandmother made me sleep in the room with her. Since the house was shotgun style, there were two doors to the room. At night, Granny would close those two doors, and triple bolt them with locks my uncle had installed for her. The room had two windows. My grandmother would close the windows, lock the windows and brace them with a board so they could not be raised. She was petrified that someone would try to break-in. Each night, a “slop” jar was placed in the room in case one of us needed to use the potty. No one could leave the room during the night. Think how a hot southern, summer night with no air and a stinky potty was!
Every time Granny would hear the slightest sound, she would awaken me to hear the sound. She would then tell me that someone was outside trying to get in, and we had to sit on the side of the bed until we no longer heard the noise. She would, at times, shout out, “I’m going to get my gun.” So there I sat, as a ten-year-old child petrified.
If a thunderstorm came up during the night, my grandmother would awaken me, make me get out of bed and get fully dressed. She said we had to be ready in case lightning struck the house. So, this sleepy child would get dressed and sit in fear, hoping the storm would pass by without killing us.
One last story from life with Granny. When I would get to her house at night, she would tell me I was filthy, even though I had taken a bath before leaving home. She had me strip naked, get in her tub, and she would proceed to wash me from head to toe, using a stiff scrub brush. She often told me I was not clean. So for years, I walked around with my skin half scrubbed off, fearing I was an unclean person.
Before you think badly of Granny, let me say that Granny was a sweet person. Her issue was that she was consumed by fear, and it paralyzed her from having a normal emotional life.
For many years, even into my married years, I was paralyzed by fear. I was afraid of being alone when my husband was gone, petrified of thunderstorms and obsessed with cleanliness. My grandmother lived in a house of fear, and built one for me.
There came a point in my walk with God, that He revealed to me that I was paralyzed by fear. I was afraid of dying at a young age, afraid of storms, afraid of an attack, afraid of not having enough money, afraid of speaking in front of others – afraid, afraid, afraid!
I was reading the scripture in Matthew chapter 6 where Jesus said, “Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest because your heavenly Father feeds (takes care of) them.” I had to chuckle at that verse. Have you ever seen a bird having a nervous breakdown? They don’t worry because they trust God to provide. That same passage of scripture lets us know that God thinks we are far more valuable to Him than the birds. In other words, I am the apple of God’s eye, and He can be trusted to take care of me in every situation.
What is the answer for paralyzing fear? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It’s been said, “Why worry when you can pray?” What a great question! When you are afraid, you have choices. You can lie in bed and agonize, you can try to work out your problems in your own power … or you can pray. I have found that option number three brings such peace and courage to my soul.
What fear do you need to be free of today? Child of God, it’s time to be free. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” My prayer for you today is that you will be released from the house of fear, with its bolted doors. It has held you captive far too long. Whatever fear you are facing, God is greater. Put your trust in the one who is greater.
There are occasions that Satan tries to beckon me to once again take up residency in the house of fear. No thank you! I don’t live there anymore because the Lord Most High is now my dwelling place.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10