Have you ever been so overcome by fear that you don’t want to leave your house? When I was about 12 or 13, I suddenly went from carefree kid to an anxious, worried, fearful kid. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) wasn’t really a topic back in the nineties. I am not talking about having all the matching kitchen containers, or ensuring all the pictures line up and match in colour. I am talking about a gripping fear that something bad will happen if you don’t check the door three times, or wash your hands for fear of germs, even though you know you just washed them. It is exhausting, and it is real.
It was only when I was desperate after living with this for nearly two years that I really cried out to God. I knew I didn’t want to live like this all my life. I wanted to live life again. The Bible says that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came that we may have life and life to the full (John 10:10). God didn’t sweep down and miraculously release me of those fears, but He did put key people in my life who helped me through, who loved me unconditionally. He put His Word (the Bible) in my heart to reassure me that He is my Refuge and Strength (Psalm 46:5). That He is my Salvation (Psalm 27) and my Healer (Isaiah 53:4-5) and that He knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11). It was a process of continually stepping out in faith, believing that God was in control, not me. Of continually speaking God’s truth over my life. It was making a choice each day to step out of the shadows of fear and doubt.
Talking to my Mum helped me to realise a lot of my fears were unjustified and even ridiculous. But sometimes I needed to realise that for myself or to hear it from her. Don’t discount your child’s fears, just because it isn’t something you struggle with. Encourage them to talk to you. If they don’t want to voice it, try asking “Do you think…?” or “Are you concerned that….?” Sometimes saying things out loud is scary. Pray over them while they are awake and asleep. Teach them to pray! Help them find a verse in the Bible or a quote that encourages them.
If you have a child that is struggling with mental health issues, seek professional help for them and for yourself, but also help your child to find role models they trust and can relate to and who will take the time to speak into your child’s life. These can be teachers, pastors, youth leaders, coaches and even their friends’ parents.
I pray that as you journey with your child you will discover, as I did, that when we bring things into the Light, they lose their power over us.
Here’s to watching our children step out of the shadows and into His glorious Light.
Yvonne is Generations Connection Coordinator for Crossway Baptist Church. Yvonne and her husband Justin have four children ranging from primary to young adults.