It all started so innocently.  My husband and I volunteered to help out in our children’s ministry at our new church — you know, get to know the kids and their parents and feel like you’re contributing to the sanity break that all teachers of children need from time to time!  I used to work with children’s ministry so this   used to be my thing — the thing I was good at — but this particular Sunday I felt a bit “off” …not on my game.  Trying to engage in conversation and connection with the kids, I asked a simple question …just trying to get more in “Sunday School teacher mode” .  After all, I was the “teacher” and wasn’t it up to me to share some encouraging  truth with the kids that would just change their life forever? — the thing you hear stories about when those little kids turn 30 …”I remember the day when my teacher at church told me _________ and I’m who I am today because of that one comment.”  Pressure’s on… say that perfect  thing !

It was a group of 4 and 5 year olds.  We were watching one little boy build a rocket with his Lego set during opening “chat” time.  Here was the opportunity to connect with these kids — talk about the Space and Rocket Center !!  We live Huntsville, for Pete’s sake !  This is perfect !  We had even  taken our kids there when they were little.  I can connect with them on this one .  I ask a little 5 year old girl the “connecting” question …

“Hey! Have you ever been to the Space and Rocket Center?”

Her happy-little-innocent-face suddenly looked very distraught … uneasy actually– as if a cloud had descended right over her.

“No,” she said.  And in a quieter, almost embarrassed tone —  “I’m afraid of BIG things!”

Me, being the comforter and encourager that I am, replied …

“Oh that’s okay!  I’m afraid of things sometimes too!  ”

Her little face perked up a bit and I thought,  “What a great connection I’ve made. She’s now feeling much better about herself and knows that she’s not alone in the world of being afraid of things.”  Then she returned with a question in my direction …

“What are YOU afraid of?”

Whhhaat??  Uhhh … I glance over at my husband who gives me that knowing look that says — “Aha…  we all know that’s a loaded question.  Are you going to tell her?  ”

I can tell her the obvious things I’m afraid of — snakes, spiders, some loud noises — but do I tell her the real things I’m afraid of?  Things like …

–almost every time I see a funny place on my skin I’m certain I have skin cancer that will surely end in death or …

–being  afraid to back up in my van because I don’t want to run over anybody or hit anything and at one point this fear paralyzed me to the point of driving all the way back to an area just to “make sure” I hadn’t run over anybody!!! or …

–fear that I won’t cook meat thoroughly enough and I’ll make all those eating with us deathly ill with intestinal sickness that will surely end in death!  or…

–fear that the store clerk somehow didn’t charge me enough and if I don’t go make it right, I’ll somehow end up in jail and never see my family again! or …

–fear that rust on anything will most certainly cause lockjaw for all who come in contact with it and somehow it will be my fault.  or…

— trying to keep everyone around me safe at all times  …this responsibility resting solely on my little 18 inches of shoulder space –and, yes, I measured! because …

— I have a  huge fear of  messing up …failing in my efforts to try to do everything right — right by God and the law of the land !!!

Oh I could go on but do I really want to  tell this little girl all of that and give her more things to worry about than she even knew existed  — or wanted to know existed?

“I’m afraid of snakes,” I tell her!  I went with one of the obvious ones so as not to overwhelm her with too much “mature” thinking too soon.  It was the safe answer for me and one that seemed to brighten her face knowing that I , too, was afraid of something just like she was.  Whew!  All was well with the world!

But how could such an innocent question jab me right in the heart ?  Why did I almost lose my breath for a minute in trying to decide how to even respond?

Maybe I’m embarrassed too.  Maybe I hang my head in shame a little when faced with an open confession of the things that make me afraid, anxious, worried.  Hey, I’ve   just experienced a lot of  major transitions in my life not the least of which has been a transition of hormones trying to go from  “meno” to “pause” , if you know what I mean!!!  I have every right to be anxious when everything around me is out of control, right !!??

The truth is, I do get anxious and I’m still afraid of things.  I couldn’t look this little girl in the eyes and say, “It’ll be okay, honey!  When you grow up you won’t be afraid of things anymore. ”   I didn’t have any pat answer to give her to take all of those fears away but I could tell her that I’m afraid sometimes too and at least let her know she wasn’t alone in that battle.  And isn’t that one of the things that encourages us the most — just the knowing that someone else understands and has felt what you’ve felt in some way?

It’s part of my story and one I’m frankly not really thrilled about but somehow in the bigger picture of my story, it has intersected with probably hundreds of other people and their stories as they press through and battle it out with anxiety.  We make up a part of the whole and we carry each other along — encouraging each other to take another step forward and face that fear and choose life today–or this minute– instead of dread and torment.

I scrawled this verse out on scrap paper one day and left it on my dresser for about a year …

“There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear …”

1 John 4:18 (NIV)

No fear? But I still struggle with “big” things and “little” things, to be honest.  Am I not trusting God enough? Why hasn’t it all “driven away”, never to return again?

Someone once said that courage is not the absence of fear but walking forward in spite of that fear.  And I think I must be the most courageous person on the planet because I press through some kind of fear every single day of my life.

So I keep walking …while along the way,  putting my bundled up nerves and anxieties in a truck marked “Perfect Love” to be driven away.  And as I walk,  I remember that  Jesus Christ actually lives IN me which means– He is always walking  with me. I picture Him being the strong Dad walking with His little girl — guiding and protecting from the bullies that might be out there but also allowing me space to test my courage out a bit by setting up roadblocks and bumps to bring out the best in me.   But in those moments when fear grips me so tightly that  I feel my insides are breaking up and I can’t breathe, I try to focus on how much God loves me and that He’ll never , ever let go of me and that no matter what happens, He’ll be right there with me through it all.  After all, isn’t His grip on me the grip of grace wrapping me  in love!

Let these songs give a little skip to your step as you keep walking…

Always (by Kristian Stanfill)


Your Love Never Fails (by Jesus Culture)


You Never Let Go (by Matt Redman)

Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. Cindi Palma

    Love this, Joy!

  2. awakenexperience

    Joy… I fear trying to comment on blog posts. Seriously, this is vintage Joy, which is beautiful. Thank you for posing tough questions in such a soft, open, personal way. Keep writing. Love you.

  3. sheryl

    What an interesting parallel to Carrye’s latest blog post. You two should have a wonderful mother/daughter talk about this! For I just saw an amazing glimpse into your relationship and who you both are. All positive!! because as children we don’t want to be like our parents, and as parents we don’t want our children to have the same “quirks” as we do. But in actuality those similarities can be what bonds us the closest! I’m finding that with my son these days – the more he is finding me within him the closer we are becoming. Love you both!!!

  4. smithjungle

    What a courageous and vulnerable post!

Go for it! Leave a comment. :-)