Have you ever felt fear as a mom? Author Grace Fox surveyed 350 women from ages 19 to 80 and they shared their worst fears with her. Grace is no stranger to fear, or what it means to find peace in the middle of those situations. She shares her thoughts on how to move from fear to freedom.
Suzie Eller: You talked to women and asked about the things they fear most. What were some of the things they said they struggled with?
Grace Fox: Many comments broke my heart because they showed how widespread and deeply rooted these fears were. They said things like:
* I'm afraid of getting married -- my parents had a lousy marriage, and I don't want the same thing.
* I'm afraid of not being a good enough parent or spouse.
* My husband is fighting in Iraq, and I'm afraid he'll die in combat without knowing for certain that he’ll go to heaven if this happens.
* I had an affair. No one knows, not even my husband. I'm afraid I'll die on the inside because I don't feel that I can tell anyone.
* My family lived on the 12th floor of an apartment. I was constantly afraid that my baby would fall off the balcony.
* I'm afraid of remaining single.
* My life has been so easy that I'm afraid God might allow something catastrophic to happen to help me grow as a person.
SE: It sounds like women opened up to share exactly how they felt. Sometimes, as moms or women, it's hard to be honest about those fears. One of the greatest fears you mentioned in your book was “fear for our kids’ well-being”. I can relate to that. The thought of my children being hurt or sick is definitely frightening. When my son was hit by a drunk driver (he's recovered and doing well) it nearly shut me down in the first few hours because my worst fears came to life.
GF: The maternal instinct is very strong. I call it the "umbilical effect." We either bore our children ourselves or brought them into our family through adoption, and we feel responsible for their well-being. So, naturally we want to protect them from danger. We want them to be safe and healthy, to succeed, to make wise choices, to enjoy good friendships, but we can't guarantee these things will happen the way we hope.
SE: You're right. You faced a very frightening situation with your newborn daughter. Tell us about that.
GF: My husband and I were living in Nepal when our daughter was born with hydrocephalus -- too much water on the brain. She weighed barely five pounds but her head was the size of a large melon. She needed surgery immediately, to put a shunt in her head so the water could drain into her abdominal cavity. Trouble was, that type of surgery was not possible where we lived. In order for her to survive, the only option was to return to North America. The earliest overseas flight was three days away, and a travel agent refused to issue a ticket to me because I'd had a Caesarean section and was considered high risk to the airline.
My husband took the baby home by himself while I remained behind for another five days. I had to say goodbye to my 3-day-old daughter, not knowing whether or not I'd see her alive again.
SE: How did you overcome your fear for her well-being?
GF: I remember laying on my bed and crying hot tears. I prayed, "God, I don't understand what you're doing, and frankly, I don't like it. But I choose to trust you in the midst of this. What do you want me to learn through it?"
In the darkness of that moment, my mind was filled with the lyrics of the well-known hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness." Those lyrics reminded me that God would be faithful to help us through whatever the future held. Whether our baby lived or died, whether she would be strong physically or need multiple surgeries and occupational therapy, He would help us through. By the way, she did have multiple surgeries, and she battled a bout with meningitis when she was 11 months old. She's now 23 years old and still has a shunt in her head, but she's doing well.
SE: What would you say to a woman who fear a similar situation?
GF: Four things.
First, remember that you're not alone! Other moms struggle with the same thing.
Second, take necessary precautions. We need to teach our children safety rules such as not accepting rides with strangers. We need to help them understand the importance of saying no to peers who pressure them to do drugs, etc.
Third, realize that kids reflect their mother's actions and attitudes. A fearful parent breeds fearful children. If we want them to be confident and courageous, we need to display the same attitude.
And fourth, understand that we, as mothers, can simply not guarantee our children's safety and health. Sometimes bad things happen.
Thankfully, God is bigger than any problem or tragedy we'll ever face, and He has a mysterious way of turning painful situations into something of beauty.
SE: That's hard to explain if you haven't experienced it, but when Ryan was hurt my whole world felt shattered. A guy drank too much and injured my son. Yet, I look back and see God's peace in the middle of that difficult situation. I see that he worked through people who wrapped themselves around Richard and me and Ryan. I see strength that surfaced and sustained. Did I see it then? Not so much, but it's clear now that when I turned to my faith, I found strength and so did my son. I felt like a wreck inside, but to this day he only remembers "my" strength.
CML, Tomorrow we'll continue this interview. Grace will share with us some practical ways of dealing with fear, more about her travels around the world, and what a typical day looks like for a mom and women who busts through fears daily to embrace a speaking and hands-on ministry in places like Romania, where she'll return again in just a few short weeks. In the meantime, check out her website where you can read a free excerpt from her book, Moving From Fear to Freedom.