Becoming a Brave Mom: Face the Fear
Welcome back MOPS Moms!
(If you’re just joining us, I encourage you to read yesterday’s post here.)
Have you ever picked up a book and wondered if it were written just for you? That is how I have felt as I’ve read Sherry Surratt’s Brave Mom: Facing and Overcoming Your Real Mom Fears. I want to be brave and courageously embrace the what-ifs that come with being a mama, but so many times I don’t know how to tangibly do that. Sherry’s book has helped give me some practical ideas as well as encouraged me to reflect on my fears and my bravery.
As I read the chapter on “Facing Your Emotional Monsters,” I realized the truths were the exact reminders I needed to put my fears about my baby #2’s arrival into perspective.
Maybe, like me, you’re about to head into the next stage of your family. Or a current situation is causing fear to creep up, or the daily what-ifs are winning out. If so, here are a few insights from the book that encouraged me.
Sherry lists three truths about fear (see pages 140-144):
- “Fear will come knocking and will want to come in….We pretend around [fear] and swat it away like an annoying fly, but until we deal with it directly, it’s going to come back.”
Reading this quote motivated me to take some time to uncover what was below the surface that was recently causing me anxiety. A couple of weeks ago, I took advantage of an extra kid-free hour after an OB appointment and headed to a coffee shop with my journal. I would have loved to have sat there all day reading and writing but I was grateful for the hour I had. Writing down my fears (listed on the what-if list in the previous post) and asking God to speak truth to me about them brought peace and freedom that I needed.
I faced (and am continuing to face and work through) the fear that yes, although there are no signs that the cancer has returned, it is a legitimate fear that the oncologist could find something during the c-section. Acknowledging that I am scared about that has helped me give that specific prayer request to God.
And on a less serious note, I have realized that some of the what-ifs I wrote about (like no sleep or toddler tantrums) will most likely happen at some point. It’s just the reality of all of us adjusting to life as a family of four. But writing those fears down has been helpful for me to frame where the anxiety is coming from and also to acknowledge that it may be hard for a while, and that’s okay. (And it’s also super encouraging to remind myself of how many brave moms have gone before me, survived, and moved into a new season–even with fond memories!)
- “While fear is very real, it doesn’t have to paralyze you…Just because a scary thought hits me, it doesn’t mean I have to ruminate on it, letting my emotions get carried away with every possible scenario.”
This is definitely a lesson I have learned over the last five years. As 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, I have to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” Not just because it says so in Scripture but because taking these thoughts captive brings such greater peace to my life than if I let my fears run ahead of me and freak me out.
In a blog entry I posted almost exactly four years ago, I wrote about this very thing after working myself up in a tizzy while waiting for some cancer scan results.
“After what felt like forever, my doctor entered the room and told us that everything on my ultrasound looked fine. As I breathed a huge sigh of relief, I was reminded all over again why God tells me in His Word to keep my mind steadfast and “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). When I engross myself in God’s truth and promises instead of scaring myself silly with fearful thoughts, God’s peace “guards my heart and mind” (Philippians 4:8). Fixating on all of the what-ifs is not only a waste of time but it steals my peace and energy. Beth Moore says it this way, “Many of our mammoth captors began as seeds in the thought life, but we watered and cultivated them by continued meditation until they grew the size of the Sequoias!” (203).
Taking thoughts captive and working through my fears has been a theme throughout my blog. As I was writing this entry I pulled up many of the posts I’ve written; reading some of the quotes I shared from other authors, recalling the stories of how God met me in my distress, and reminding myself of verses God has shown me brought such encouragement to me. (I will share more practical tips about what I’ve learned tomorrow but if this topic is resonating with you, a few other posts I have written about fear can be found here, here, here, and here.)
- The goal is not to eliminate fear but to manage it…Trying to avoid every scary situation as a mom isn’t in the realm of possibility, nor is it healthy to try. But it is possible to be the best brave mom you can be, who has go-to strategies that come naturally to you when you face tough situations.”
When I first read this insight from Sherry, I wasn’t sure if I agreed because I do think the ultimate goal is to eliminate the fear all together. I do believe when we ask God to take our fear away, sometimes He completely does that and I believe in asking Him to do so. But I also know that oftentimes God uses the fear to draw us more to Himself and uses it to teach us to trust Him as a loving and good Father. I know that has certainly been true through my cancer journey as well as my journey in becoming a mom.
A memorable mom-fear moment comes to mind that helped teach me that I could trust God as my loving Father. I was planting flowers the day before my 20-week ultrasound with Olivia, my firstborn, and thinking through what the next day entailed. Because of all that we’d gone through with my health, as the appointment approached, I began freaking out about all that could go wrong with the baby inside of me. I knelt in the hot sun that day digging holes and watering flowers and telling God every one of my fears. He didn’t necessarily take away my fear, but He reminded me that He was good and that I could trust Him. And though I wanted Him to wave a magic wand and tell me all was going to be okay, instead He reminded me to trust Him with my fears and trust His character. That truth calmed my heart as I entered the appointment (and thankfully found out all was fine).
Wouldn’t you know, as I was sitting here typing these very thoughts, I realized that I hadn’t felt Baby Girl move in a while. Having known a couple of people who have lost their babies at the very end of their pregnancy, it is a real fear of mine that this could happen. I tried to ignore the nagging fear as I wrote but I could feel silent panic rising inside of me. I stopped typing and prayed, asking God to reassure me things were okay, but most of all to trust Him and not let my mind take off down a worry path. Then I took a drink of water, shifted my body to the left side, and kept writing. Thankfully she moved in a couple of minutes and I smiled because I had put into action the three steps Sherry suggested: acknowledged the fear directly (what if there is something wrong with the baby), took my thoughts captive (prayed and told myself not to go to the worst-case scenario), and managed the fear (took a drink and shifted to left side and kept my mind occupied).
I’ll share more tomorrow about the strategies I’ve learned to manage my fear and anxiety. Until then, what are your go-to strategies?