February 1, 2019
The door swiftly opened and light cut into my sleep.
She was by my bedside in an instant, shaking from head to foot.
She leaned in close and whispered the words I’ve heard countless times, “Mom, I had a nightmare, we need to pray.”
I began to stir myself awake. “Okay babe…”
Content that she was not alone in the dark, she was off like a shot towards the door throwing a quick explanation over her shoulder. “I’ve gotta use the restroom, be right back.”
Years of battling fear night and day with my daughter has made prayer a reflex whether I’m asleep, semi-conscious, or fully awake. I began immediately, before she returned. “Holy Spirit, please help…”
A few moments later she was walking slowly towards my bed, eyes as wide as I’ve ever seen them. “Mom… I have another story for my Jesus Story Box.”
Her hand was over her heart in amazement. She stood completely still. “I was in the bathroom, and I prayed ‘Lord Jesus, please help me! I don’t feel very good, and there’s no one else that can help me’, and then just like that I froze! My teeth stopped chattering, and my heart slowed down and I’m not afraid anymore!” Her smile was wide and so bright I could see it shining in the 4 am dark. “Can you believe it?!”
We hugged each other in celebration. Typically, these midnight battles are much longer, and repetitive. She went back to bed and slept until morning.
At 6 am she walked towards me in all her bed-head glory, still smiling, arms open wide for a good-morning hug.
* * * Some Backstory * * *
My girl and I, we have fought the spirit of fear together because PTSD is real and washes over her as relentlessly as ocean waves in a storm.
She has learned the hard way that the only way to not sink under the waves of fear is to cry out to Jesus.
She tried ignoring the fear. Because fighting is hard, and the battle is frightening to face. Especially in the dark.
I had to hide the TV remote controls and turn the computer completely off, because it came out that after a couple of years she stopped waking me to pray with her, and she tried distracting herself with a screen in the middle of the night instead.
So many days she was exhausted and miserable all day because she had not fought for rest. Her sisters developed deep purple rings around their eyes, too, because entertainment alone became not a big enough distraction. She needed to not be alone. She learned that if she remained alone, the fear remained.
We talked through her need to face her fears. Yes, she could temporarily distract herself. But the impact on herself, and others, was still an incredible loss. Running from her fears impacted the entire day.
"I will not risk open war."
"Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not."
With her distractions removed she began waking me up again.
I reminded her how Jesus had helped her win victory and peace through prayer and the sword of the Spirit (scripture). She had nodded. She knows.
I remember when a Christmas season rolled around and she first saw cards and decorations calling Jesus “the Prince of Peace”.
Excited, she’d run to me with a card. “Do you see this, Mom? That’s who He is! He’s my Prince of Peace.”
We already have a Prince of Peace Jesus Story Box Story, because it is the first name of God that is precious to her. She knows by experience that Jesus brings her peace she can’t manufacture on her own.
But fighting is hard. And we all get tired. She’d tried the option of not fighting, and had gotten beaten up.
None of us are meant to fight alone. Alone, we lose. Every time.
“Fear does not go away just because you get older or bigger.” I told her. “Adults have to respond to fear, too. Some face fear with Jesus, and win the fight. Some run away from their fears, and get beat up. It is good for you to learn how to fight fear now, so you can overcome it your whole life. You can win the fight with fear no matter what size or strength or age you are as long as you call on Jesus, because He is the One who defeats fear. Love alone can cast out fear. And God is Love.”
* * * Her Newest Jesus Story * * *
She wants to call this her David and Goliath story, because her nightmare was about a giant killing her. And, miraculously, because she came against her fear with the name of the LORD Almighty, with one small stone-prayer, her fear was defeated.
Battles with fear aren’t often won this way (in my experience). But it’s pretty special when they are.
I told her an important point is to not assume all battles will be won the same way. The point is that you choose to fight.
You do whatever the Lord tells you, you fight, and you win.
Some battles are won through repetitive walking in obedience day after day (like Jericho, Joshua 6:3).
Some are won through such a long, hard, exhausting fight that your hand freezes to your sword (like Eleazar, 2 Samuel 23:10).
But some are won in a moment. Through the name of the LORD Almighty.
We are celebrating this kind of victory today.