My daughter was afraid to brush her teeth.
Afraid to make the short trek down the hall and to the left to the bathroom, where in her seven-year-old mind, something lurked dark and deep. A fear unnamed and yet not unknown, a familiar fear that caught her in a cold-fisted grip too many times to count. You never knew when it was going to grab and clutch, you just knew at some point, it would again.
She wanted me. My company. My presence down the hall.
But I knew she needed More. Needed His company, His presence.
The only way to fight the dark is with light.
I told her I’d be right there, in the kitchen, and she could do it. But she couldn’t, and the tears came, hysterical and sure. I wiped her cheeks and whispered reminders of who she was. Daughter of the most High King. Child of God. Beloved.
She tried again. Failed. Feet frozen in fear right at the start of the hall.
This went on for a solid half hour. False starts and foiled attempts.
I finally pulled her back in close. She begged me to come with her. Bargained. Pleaded. Bribed. I said I couldn’t, that this was important. She needed to remember who she was. I promised I’d come as soon as she made it in there and turned on the water.
Then I leaned in tight and whispered a secret. “Remember—you have a superpower.”
She blinked, eyes hoping, wanting to believe but not quite able.
“A real superpower. Not like Elsa’s. Because of Jesus in you, fear doesn’t control you.” I whispered softer. “You control the fear.” I told her to rebuke it in Jesus name. That when she did, because of her authority as a follower of Christ, it had to leave. It had to.
She lined back up, shoulders back, staring down the hall. She whispered something soft. Then whispered again. Teary eyed, panicked, spun back to me. “It didn’t work, Mama!”
“Did you say in Jesus' name?”
Her head dropped. “No.”
Her head dropped. “No.”
“That’s the most important part.”
Red faced, puffy nosed, swollen eyed, she tried again. “I rebuke fear in Jesus’ name.” She took a step.
She. Took. A. Step.
Crying, speaking louder. “I rebuke fear in Jesus’ name!” Another step. Tiny and slow. “I rebuke fear in Jesus name.” Stronger. Clearer. “I rebuke fear in Jesus name.” Tears came fresh as she trod out of my sight and around the corner, interrupted only by sporadic, tear-soaked and broken declarations of “I want Mama!”
My heart would burst. “Keep going baby! I’m right here.” I wanted to go to her so badly. But victory was more important than comfort.
Crying harder now, but speaking louder now. “I rebuke fear in Jesus’ name.” Shuddering breath. “I rebuke fear in Jesus’ name!”
The water turned on. And I ran to her side. We celebrated, with foamy toothpaste grins and high fives and victory dance from her beloved stuffed giraffe.
Sometimes, my heart is seven, and I’m standing paralyzed in the hall, afraid to go any further. Afraid of the door behind me shutting forever and afraid of the one around the corner that I can’t see. Afraid that maybe I’ll get there, and it’ll be locked too. Afraid that I’m truly alone and on my own and the goal ahead of me is too large, too impossible, and too risky.
And then my Wonderful Counselor, my Prince of Peace, my Comforter, leans in close and reminds me who I am. Whispers that the same power that resurrected Him resides in me, and I am never alone.
I blink, eyes hoping, wanting to believe but not quite able.
I whisper His name.
And I can take a step.
My foot weighs a thousand pounds and I realize that maybe I don’t want the destination so badly after all.
That it’s too much. Too uncertain. It hurts too bad.
But victory is more important than my comfort.
So I walk.
The next week, she came to me from her bed in the nights, tears flooding. “Mama, I’m scared something’s going to happen to you. I can’t sleep.” Struggling breath. “I can’t make the bad thoughts stop.”
I walk her back to bed, my tired eyes desperate for sleep. I knew she’d pass out hard and fast if I allowed her to sleep in my bed with me—but no. There was another battle to fight. A bigger one than either of us knew.
So I tuck her back in her own room, the fear so strong now she can barely breathe around it. I hug her close as she cries, praying for peace, and remind her that the devil is a liar.
And I remember how often I forget that. How often I let the bad thoughts fly free. Let them circle and swoop like vultures, picking at the remnants of my joy. Snatching hope with sharp beaks.
I tell her that the fears she has were not true. That we were safe. And that God had a big plan for her. That because of what she had been through and conquered already, she was special. Her heart was sensitive for a reason, and this was training. Warrior Princess training.
She pulled the covers up to her chin and half covered the smile trying to peek through the tears. She liked that. “Mama? Have you finished your training?”
I let out a half laugh, half cry. Finished? No. I still fall. Still get up. Brush off the dirt and smear the sweat in my eyes and get back into the ring, despite the blood stains. Stronger. But definitely not finished.
I only shake my head. “No, baby. I’ve come a really long way. But I’m not done yet.” I kiss her, tell her that I’m going to bed and she had everything she needed to fight. She had Jesus. She had memorized Bible verses. And she knew what to do with them.
Then I prayed over her, anointed her forehead with oil, and walked out of the room.
Because sometimes, the only way to teach the warrior to fight is to give her a war.
She stayed. She fought. She won.
And I realized the power in being still. In pausing in the thick of our individual battle fields, breathing deep and knowing who God is and who we are in Him. Yet our instincts are to duck and dodge, to cower low, not brave the front line. Never that. Our defaults shout to run to safety, to Mama’s room, to pretend like it’s all a bad dream and bask in false security instead of the real kind.
We are fully equipped. We only have to utilize the weapons He already gave us. Victory is ours.
When we stay.