I’ve always been freaked out by mice. I even struggle going to Disneyworld, because I’m afraid Mickey is going to start chasing me! It’s actually not quite that bad, but it’s still a pretty embarrassing fear. At this point in our young marriage, I had done a pretty good job of hiding my fears and frailties from my amazing wife Ashley, but she was about to learn in dramatic fashion that her husband wasn’t nearly as tough as he pretended to be!
She was doing crunches on the floor in the front of the TV while I was doing no physical movement at all lounged in a recliner. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a quick movement in the corner of the living room and I turned my head to see two beady little eyes staring back at my. My fear was staring me in the face.
I gathered my wits and summoned my courage. I was going to take care of this mouse! I refused to be bullied by a rodent in my home in front of my wife! After all, I was the “man of the house” and I was about to teach this mouse a lesson. This was a moment of destiny!
I tiptoed to the kitchen and found a large pot and started moving towards the mouse. In hindsight, I’m entirely sure what I was planning to do with the pot. I think I was planning to capture it under the pot and then I was hoping Ashley would know what to do from there!
As I took a step towards “Mickey,” he saw me and then he made his move. I remember thinking to myself that mice are much faster than you’d think! He started running towards Ashley who was still on the floor doing sit-ups, but he didn’t see her because he was looking back toward me as he ran. Before I could say anything to warn her, the mouse had run into Ashley’s side and scurried his little mouse feet up onto her stomach!
At this point, all chaos broke loose! There was literally shrieking, screaming and crying. It was a full-blown hysterical meltdown. Finally, Ashley had to say, “Dave, pull yourself together! It is just a mouse!” She’s still the brave one in the relationship!
We survived the mouse attack, and we’ve laughed about it a lot since then, but that incident also taught us a valuable lesson. Many of the things that cause us worry and stress in marriage are no more threatening or dangerous than that mouse, but we let them rob of us our peace or distract from the issues that really are worth our attention.
We are not meant to live in fear, so when little fears like mice or big fears like the fear of rejection or even death come knocking, we can respond with more courage if we’ll remember the following truths:
1. God is with you and He is bigger than whatever you’re afraid of!
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
2. There isn’t enough room in our hearts for both fear and faith, so each day we must decide which one gets to stay.
This is an extension of the first point. The more faith we invite into our lives, the less room we have for fear. When you feel like worrying about something, try praying instead. Invite God to replace your fear with faith.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6
3. Remember that FEAR=False Evidence Appearing Real
I didn’t invent this definition of fear, but ever since I first heard it, I’ve remembered it. I hope this sticks with you too. The reality is rarely worse than the fear itself, so let’s take charge of our thoughts and our lives.
4. Remember that courage is a choice, not a feeling.
We can’t always control our “feelings,” but we can always control our choices. When we feel fear, we can still choose courage by facing our fears head on. As we do, our fears will start to feel smaller and smaller.
The story above is from the chapter, “Love Conquers Fear” in my new book The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships.
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