Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

Isn’t it funny that after you kill a spider you instinctively look for another one?

Suddenly, you are aware of the eight-legged danger that might once again invade your home. The room you found the spider in is not the same for a while because every time you turn the light on, you dread finding another dark spot.

That’s what fear is like—it’s looking for something even though it might not be there; it’s allowing something to reign in your mind that haunts you. There are times you think you’ve squashed it, yet you are always left wondering if there’s more. The room I found fear in? Motherhood. And, for a while, that fear changed me.

It’s funny that in 2011 my husband described me as “free-spirited”. Looking back at the pictures of the curly-haired girl with a bright smile, I agree. She was. She’d jump in the river, get lost in the woods, and move to new places just to have adventure. So, how did that carefree girl become the 32-year-old woman staring down at the whites of her knuckles, cringing against troublesome thoughts, trying to catch her breath?

Well, for one, she became a mother.

Cue the spider.

A few months after having my second child, I knew something wasn’t right. The joy I knew I should feel was as far out of reach as a kite tangled around a power line. I would look at my son’s fresh face, and I would wonder if he could breathe OK. At the slightest pink in his skin, I would wonder if he was getting a rash. I would listen to his chest, and I would count his breaths while squeezing crib rails and praying over him and over him and over him.

I would Google things and scare myself, I would make everyone who came over wash their hands, and I would stare at them the entire time they held him and cringe at the thought of them dropping him. I would check his temperature even if there were no signs of sickness. I would routinely do these things as if in doing them, I was keeping my son safe. My heart would fall, my breath would catch, and I would feel such a hollow heaviness in my chest. Sometimes I would even pray until I felt lightheaded and sick.

To combat the vivid blackness of fear, I shut down.

I didn’t want to go anywhere and I didn’t want anyone to come over. I wanted my little family to be isolated so we could be safe. In my mind, at the time, it was the only way to protect my son. It wasn’t until I went to the doctor in the belief that I had pneumonia (the pain in my chest was that intense and it was that difficult to breathe), that they listened to me and knew what really troubled me—postpartum anxiety/OCD. I talked, they listened, and I cried.

When the fear tumbled out of my mouth, it sounded absurd. I felt like I had been keeping a mouse in a lion’s cage, and when I released it, I realized it didn’t have the power I thought it did. For months it took my happiness and left me staring at the same walls, repeating the same what-if scenarios, and it distanced me from those I love—even my own husband.

The fear wrapped up in my postpartum anxiety wanted to be my undoing, but when I finally saw it for what it was and knew its name, I decided I knew a name more powerful: Jesus.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” -1 John 4:18

Leading up to my diagnosis, I allowed myself to live in torment. My fears picked at my brain, and I wasn’t surrendering them to God as I should have. I wasn’t allowing Him to perfect me but I was clinging to what was ripping my very identity apart. When I came to my senses and spoke openly about my fear, I realized the ugliest thing about me was the fear I constantly wore. Fear made me act ugly because it made me untrusting; as a result, it made those around me misunderstand and maybe even resent me because they didn’t know why I kept pushing them away. And, let’s face it, fear is unattractive; people are not drawn to fearful individuals because fear is certainly not an admirable trait.

“…my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9

My weaknesses are fear, anxiety, worry, doubt, and the “what if” mentality. I need to do ONE thing when I am confronted with fear—TRUST. Why is it that I am sometimes more persuaded by what I read on Facebook or what I see on the news than I am by God’s truths? I need to be like Paul and “know whom I have believed” and I need to know “that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him…” (2 Timothy 1:12). I need to rest in God’s keeping. I need to know that even though I sometimes don’t deserve to be kept in His hand, I can still feel the warmth of it.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” -2 Timothy 1:7

The first five months of my baby’s life are a blur, and this saddens me. I allowed the devil to steal the joy God meant me to have in motherhood.

There is a difference between healthy worrying and obsessively worrying. It’s always been said that you can’t live in fear—and, you can’t—there is no life there. Fear reduces you down to merely existing until the next bad thing you fear “might” occur. There is no growing or thriving in fear: It is an overwatered plant with rotten roots. I decided to stop watering my fear, to stop looking for it; instead, I went to scripture and found verses to recite as a way to heal.

One of the worst aspects of OCD is having to obsessively repeat something for fear of losing control of a situation. When I was at my lowest, I decided that instead of having to recheck all the things that “might” pose danger to my family, I mostly need to check my heart. I need to learn to return compulsively, obsessively to Jesus. In doing so, I’ve learned to relinquish, repent, renounce, and reclaim. These verbs have one thing in common—they must be repeated. In doing them again and again, I can find relief and return myself to Jesus and allow him to give me the “sound mind” I so desperately crave.

Now when I find myself overwhelmed and the tightness in my chest gathers over my ribs like a dark cloud, I must first relinquish control.

Fear says I am in charge; trust says God is. When I allow myself to be persuaded more by worry than by faith, I must repent of my doubts and acknowledge the places I am weak and allow God to be strong. I have to decide to vacate fear and renounce the devil’s hold on my life, for that’s not the life God intends to give me.

Finally, ultimately, I must reclaim the life God meant me to have. My children deserve a happy mother whose eyes are not staring blankly while envisioning terror but one whose eyes are fixed on their precious faces, and, more importantly, on the Giver of Life.

What the devil meant for my undoing, God meant for my redoing.

You may also like:

My Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like I Fail Over and Over Again

Dear Husband, Thank You For Loving Me Through the Storm of Anxiety

I’m Not a Lazy Mom—I Have Anxiety

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Stephanie Duncan

My name is Stephanie Duncan. I live in Tennessee and I teach high school English. I have been married for seven years, and I am a mother to two beautiful children, a girl and a boy.

God Had Different Plans

In: Faith, Motherhood
Silhouette of family swinging child between two parents

As I sip my twice-reheated coffee holding one baby and watching another run laps around the messy living room, I catch bits and pieces of the Good Morning America news broadcast. My mind drifts off for a second to the dreams I once had of being the one on the screen. Live from New York City with hair and makeup fixed before 6 a.m. I really believed that would be me. I just knew I’d be the one telling the mama with unwashed hair and tired eyes about the world events that happened overnight while she rocked babies and pumped milk....

Keep Reading

This Will Not Last Forever

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman looking at sunset

“This will not last forever,” I wrote those words on the unfinished walls above my daughter’s changing table. For some reason, it got very tiring to change her diapers. Nearly three years later, the words are still there though the changing table no longer is under them. While my house is still unfinished so I occasionally see those words, that stage of changing diapers for her has moved on. She did grow up, and I got a break. Now I do it for her baby brother. I have been reminding myself of the seasons of life again. Everything comes and...

Keep Reading

God Calls Me Flawless

In: Faith, Living
Note hanging on door, color photo

When I look in the mirror, I don’t always like what I see. I tend to focus on every imperfection, every flaw. As I age, more wrinkles naturally appear. And I’ve never been high maintenance, so the gray hairs are becoming more frequent, too. Growing up a lot of negative words were spoken about me: my body, my weight, my hair, my build. Words I’ve somehow carried my whole life. The people who proclaimed them as my truth don’t even remember what they said, I’m sure. But that’s the power of negative words. Sticks and stones may break our bones,...

Keep Reading

Your Husband Needs Friendship Too

In: Faith, Friendship, Marriage
3 men smiling outside

As the clock inches closer to 7:00 on a Monday evening, I pull out whatever dessert I had prepared that week and set it out on the kitchen counter. This particular week it’s a trifle, but other weeks it may be brownies, pound cake, or cookies of some kind. My eyes do one last sweep to make sure there isn’t a tripping hazard disguised as a dog toy on the floor and that the leftover dinner is put away. Then, my kids and I make ourselves scarce. Sometimes that involves library runs or gym visits, but it mostly looks like...

Keep Reading

This Is Why Moms Ask for Experience Gifts

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter under Christmas lights wearing red sweaters

When a mama asks for experience gifts for her kids for Christmas, please don’t take it as she’s ungrateful or a Scrooge. She appreciates the love her children get, she really does. But she’s tired. She’s tired of the endless number of toys that sit in the bottom of a toy bin and never see the light of day. She’s tired of tripping over the hundreds of LEGOs and reminding her son to pick them up so the baby doesn’t find them and choke. She’s tired of having four Elsa dolls (we have baby Elsa, Barbie Elsa, a mini Elsa,...

Keep Reading

When You Just Don’t Feel Like Christmas

In: Faith, Living
Woman sad looking out a winter window

It’s hard to admit, but some years I have to force myself to decorate for Christmas. Some years the lights look a little dimmer. The garlands feel a bit heavier. And the circumstances of life just aren’t wrapped in a big red bow like I so wish they were. Then comparison creeps in like a fake Facebook friend and I just feel like hiding under the covers and skipping it all. Because I know there’s no way to measure up to the perfect life “out there.” And it all just feels heavier than it used to. Though I feel alone,...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

To the Woman Longing to Become a Mother

In: Faith, Grief, Motherhood
Woman looking at pregnancy test with hand on her head and sad expression

To the woman who is struggling with infertility. To the woman who is staring at another pregnancy test with your flashlight or holding it up in the light, praying so hard that there will be even the faintest line. To the woman whose period showed up right on time. To the woman who is just ready to quit. I don’t know the details of your story. I don’t know what doctors have told you. I don’t know how long you have been trying. I don’t know how many tears you have shed. I don’t know if you have lost a...

Keep Reading

I Was There to Walk My Mother to Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Hand holding older woman's hand

I prayed to see my momma die. Please don’t click away yet or judge me harshly after five seconds. I prayed to see, to experience, to be in the room, to be a part of every last millisecond of my momma’s final days, final hours, and final moments here on Earth. You see, as a wife of a military man, I have always lived away from my family. I have missed many birthdays, celebrations, dinners, and important things. But my heart couldn’t miss this important moment. I live 12 hours away from the room in the house where my momma...

Keep Reading

God Sent Me to You

In: Faith, Motherhood
Newborn gazing at mother with father smiling down

I was a little unsure As I left God’s warm embrace: What will it be like? What challenges will I face? There were so many questions Running through my mind. I asked around for the answers I was hoping to find. Who will hold me And cuddle me tight? Who will rock me To sleep at night? RELATED: The Newborn Nights Feel As Endless As My Love For You Who will comfort me When I’ve had a rough day? Who will be there To take my worries away? Who will nourish me And make sure I grow? Who will read...

Keep Reading