July 29, 2020

These days fear can creep into my heart uninvited. And trying to not be afraid is a bit like trying to tell yourself to not think about the monster under the bed. The more you try, the bigger the idea of the monster becomes. “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” (John 14:27 KJV). Those words were spoken by Jesus during his last supper with his disciples. Those comforting words mean little unless you trust the person saying them. Trust must be earned, and it is earned through personal experience.  

When we were on vacation with our family at Smith Mountain Lake earlier this month, our youngest granddaughter, Marie-Hélène, usually a self-assured and confident 3-year-old, was neither when it came to the pontoon boat.  Even my Nana presence wasn’t enough to convince her. My daughter-in-law Kristie used her considerable persuasive tactics encourage her. Kristie, ever the good mom, told her about the snacks she’d packed.  That was enough bait to get her on-board.

We got her all lathered up with sunscreen, swimsuit, rash guard, water shoes, hat, and personal floatation device, and made our way down to the dock, and onto the boat. She had my hand in her vice-like grip as we pulled away from the dock, but her fear didn’t prevent her from remembering the snacks. She went through a pack of gummy bears before we had sailed beyond the cove.

A person sitting in a car

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Marie-Hélène with Uncle Dan

Dan, her uncle and captain, asked if she wanted to drive the boat.  Now I was the one who had a hard time letting go of her hand.  She made her way tentatively over to the cockpit and crawled up on Dan’s lap, and he let her hold onto the wheel and push the throttle.  That’s when I saw her dimples appear, a portent of giggles to come.

On the next pontoon adventure, she didn’t need to hold my hand for long, although she didn’t forget to ask for snacks.  By her last trip, she was all giggles when her dad turned her upside down.

A person holding a baby in a body of water

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Marie-Hélène with her Daddy

A hand to hold, a supply of snacks, an opportunity to have some sense of control, and being in the presence of people you trust is enough to make one little girl feel safe. A daily dose of those works wonders for fearful hearts. 

Take heart! (Holding a hand, accomplishing one thing on your to-do list, and spending time virtually or in person with a trusted friend can help!) ~ Anne

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