What is your worst fear for your child? Mine was that my daughter would die. She was just 18, abusing alcohol and drugs, cutting herself to soothe emotional pain, living on the streets. Sometimes sleeping in parks, parked cars or wherever she passed out. I was beside myself with fear and worry for her life. Would she overdose? Drink too much? Be kidnapped? Murdered? I couldn’t believe any of this was happening. Unimaginable.
In my agony I visited a friend who listened lovingly, without giving advice, while I poured out my sad story. As I sat with her she encouraged me to do something I had not done — face my worst fear. She asked me straight out, “What are you most afraid of?” It hit me like a ton of bricks. It had been the elephant in the room. The monster lurking under my bed. The ghost hiding in the darkness of my closet when I was a child.
My greatest fear? I had been in so much shock and denial I had not allowed myself to acknowledge it. To face it. To admit it. As though doing so would make it more of a possibility. As though saying it could make it happen or bring me more pain. (Was that even possible?)
I realized what I feared most was that my daughter would die. There — I finally said it. Got it out into the open. Faced it head on. Acknowledged the elephant. Brought the monster out of the closet into the light. Got down on the floor and looked under the bed. Would a phone call come from the morgue requesting me to identify my sweet girl? Would the police or hospital call informing me of my child’s death? Nightmare material. How could I live with such a horrifying possibility?
First, I had to be honest with my feelings. Experience their full force. I gave myself permission to grieve her death as though it had happened. To feel the weight of the sadness and huge sense of loss. I wept and wept uncontrollably until my sides ached. And then it hit me – – as awful as it would be, if she did die what could I know for sure? What truths could I stand on? This was the only way I could survive this unthinkable loss.
Second, I boiled it down to three irrefutable truths. I could rest on these:
1) God would be with me . . . no matter what. He has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”. (Hebrews 13:5b) I could survive anything, even the death of my child. I would not be alone. Not then. Not ever. No never.
2) He would be my strength, my adequacy, my sufficiency. “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a) “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.” (Hebrews 13:6)
3) Somehow God could use it for good. “ALL things work together for the good of those who love him . . .” (Romans 8:28)
Suddenly this fear was disarmed. It had lost its power over me. Something happened that freed me from its debilitating grip on my soul. Facing the very real possibility of my daughter’s death brought me a new sense of peace. Who would have imagined it could do that?
To be completely honest with you, I do still fear this at times. I am human, after all. But it no longer has that same grip on me like it once did. I have faced my worst fear and survived! I don’t know what your worst fear is, but maybe it is the same as mine. May God help you face it with the help of a trusted friend or a counselor/pastor and in doing so, find greater peace and a new freedom.