I think we all can remember that moment. Your parents kissing your forehead, your tiny little five year-old frames tucked safely into bed as your night light casts its soft glow across the darkened bedroom. You are just about to drift of into sweet slumber when you happen to glance over at your closet. Its door is cracked open ever so slightly, just enough to hint at the dark abyss that waits beyond. You wonder, “Was it like that before the lights went out?” As you stare even harder at it, you decide with the utmost certainty that it is indeed opening wider by the second. Terror grips you as you let out an unconscious guttural wail, “MOMMY!”
Inevitably, your parents always seemed to have a way to sooth and quiet your spirit, convincing you of your safety by riffling through your closet with a flashlight or climbing under your bed and assuring you that there is not, in fact, a 12 foot tall monster with horns and fangs plotting your demise. You would fall into a pleasant slumber, resting in the security of your parent’s word that nothing could harm you.
Unfortunately, this kind of terror isn’t limited to childhood. There are a host of terrors that plague us well after pigtails and teddy bears. Who do you turn to in the darkness? What do you do when the monsters don’t go away?
I found out rather quickly that monsters were real, and they surrounded me. From a very young age, I was bullied. Almost the entirety of my school career I was tormented by adults and children alike. I was called fat and ugly in more ways than I can recount. I actually had teachers tell me I was stupid. It got so bad by the time I got to high school, the police had to get involved. I also was very tall and mature for my age and adults would often forget I was still a child. Burdens were placed on my shoulders no child should have to bear. Before I even reached my sophomore year of high school, I didn’t trust anyone or anything.
My childhood, my innocence, was gone. I could no longer pretend the world was a wonderful place, the good guys always win and everything in the end would be okay. I knew better. The world was dark, scary and cruel and I struggled to want to remain a part of it. I battled heavily with depression, anxiety and even thoughts of suicide. Even though I had grown up in church, I had long since abandoned my beliefs for a sense of belonging. I thought if I just tried to befriend the world, it would befriend me back. A few years of poor choices, partying and drug experimentation blew that theory out of the water. I had reconciled with the Lord by my senior year of High School but still walked around in fear. These monsters in my closet just wouldn’t seem to go away. All the hurt, pain, fear and doubt were just waiting behind the door to attack.
I was terrified every day of my life that I would never be free. I was certain that my past was always going to be there to haunt me. No matter how much I believed in the Lord, I just couldn’t seem to shake it. You see the problem was is that I had a 2 Timothy kind of faith. I had “a form of godliness but denying its power”. I believed in God but I still felt alone. I just assumed that I was meant to live with this weight on my shoulders and that there was nothing I could do about it.
I was consumed by fear to the point I had to take medication. It was awful. I felt like a zombie, a shell of a person just sort of ambling about and taking up space. This went of for two horrible years. Then something wonderful happened. The Lord opened my eyes. I couldn’t tell you exactly what set the thought in motion but I just remember I was driving in my car, thinking about life and it was like a light just turned on inside. Jesus came to set me free from sin and bring peace. Why was I living this way?
I thought of this verse in 2 Timothy 1:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel...”
So I prayed and asked Jesus to help me. I simply said, “Jesus, be my peace.” I said it over and over until I felt this warmth and calm wash over me. From that point on, every time fear, doubt or self- hatred try to consume me, I would just say, “Jesus, be my peace.” He showed up every time, without fail. After a few months, I was able to get off medication and begin to live a life I once could only dream of, a life of freedom.
I’m not going to pretend that the world isn’t a scary place. Five minutes of the nightly news will prove that theory wrong. But they don’t have to haunt you. You were not meant to live in pain, fear or torment. There will be good days as well as bad but His position never changes. He is always with you. He’s right next to you. Jesus says in Matthew 28:20, “…lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the world.” What a comforting thought. There will be things that try to shake your faith and test your confidence. The pain of our pasts can be a powerful enemy. But rest in knowing there is a great big God who fights for you daily, even though you might not see it. You have a big strong daddy who’s ready to chase your monsters away. You just need to call and ask him to turn on the light.