Disarming Fear {in You and in Your Own Little Mare}

by ArabahJoy on May 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

I don’t know about you, but certain things about motherhood terrify me. Fear, panic, worry, and anxiety are common to mankind, and females are particularly prone to give in to it. Perhaps you’ve noticed it in your little one?

Science tells us that when alarm triggers the human adrenal glands, we respond either by 1) fighting or 2) “flighting.” As Christians, there is a third option we have at our disposal, one clearly taught and modeled all over scripture. I consider this to be one of the most important things I can train my daughters in.

Let me illustrate….

When a trainer encounters a horse that demonstrates anxiety, the first thing she does is train him how to put his head down in order to relax. Doing this releases endorphins and helps combat the anxious behaviors. {Besides, the horse cannot “run wild” with its head down.}

I saw a trainer working with a horse once, teaching the horse how to lower his head. She applied gentle pressure through the reins. At that point, the horse threw his head back, demonstrating a fight/flight response. “He thinks he knows the right answer to the question,” the trainer said. “He thinks that by throwing his head up and inverting, he’s going to get a release in pressure and chances are, in the past, he has.”

She went on to say, “So he thinks he knows the answer to the problem, but the answer is wrong. What I want him to learn is that he will find release when he drops his head.”

Through applying gentle, consistent pressure to the horse, the trainer taught him that by lowering his head, he could gain the release he wanted.

Similarly, many of us need to be retrained in dealing with our fears and anxieties. Then we can effectively train our children.

Having to deal with deep embedded fears in my adopted daughter forced me to deal with unseen emotional fears of my own. I had been “trained” that by running, or avoiding, or controlling, or bucking, or by kicking hard enough, I could get the release I wanted.

My adopted daughter learned that fighting for control and isolating herself from others were essential for her survival. We both learned wrong the first time around. We both are relearning the Jesus way.

“For when He was reviled, He opened not His mouth…but entrusted Himself to Faithful Creator.”

The Bible teaches it is through lowering ourselves and submitting to the Lord’s reign on our lives that we find release from the pressure and the anxiety that so quickly mounts.

God has made a natural stress-reliever and it’s called submission.

If we learn to approach life’s moments with submission to whatever He brings our way, we are well on our way to disarming fear and disabling anxiety. When we teach our children to humbly submit to God and His plans, we teach them the biblical alternative of trust and unshakable confidence in God.

I am currently preparing a fun journey for my children for this summer in which together we discover the character of God (you are invited to follow along and join in by subscribing to my blog here.) When we understand God’s real character, we will trust Him and submit to Him.

In my study of Genesis 16, I discovered this concept of submission in a transformational way.

When God appeared to Hagar, the one used, afflicted, destitute, without rights, and all alone, He revealed a bit of the future to her. He told her about the baby in her womb and He let her know that He had a plan. He knew what He was doing and could be trusted. He also told her, “Go back and submit to Sarah’s authority.”

Hagar’s first response to the difficulty and pain in her life was to run away. But after she encountered God and saw Him accurately, she was able to override her own inborn instincts, lower her head, soften her body, and submit to Sarah.

God ~ revealed to Hagar as El Roi ~ effectively disarmed Hagar’s flight or fight response. Hagar returned to Sarah and Abram.

If we allow God to reveal His nature to us, He will teach us how to disarm our own wild mare responses… and help our daughters overcome theirs as well.

Because the state of our deep inner peace is a natural indicator of our submission. And gentle submission is something we can learn.

“Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, being submissive…” I Peter 3:4-5

Related Post: When You Feel Like Quitting


Arabah Joy and her family have served as missionaries to East Asia for the past ten years. She has been married to Jackson for the past eighteen years and they have four children, both adopted and biological. She has also authored a guide on how to increase energy and has recently released an eBook on living Complete in Christ. Mostly though, she is a broken woman redeemed. She writes about God's sufficiency to transform at Arabah .

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Bree-Anne May 23, 2011

I am in awe of the goodness of God and His soverignity! This post was very timely for me to read. Thank you and please know that your post helps at least one little ol’ country girl to lean on her Savior more. To Him be the Glory!

Amy Kempf May 23, 2011

I too have an adopted child {5 yrs of age}. He at times will show great anxiety and resistance to our authority. A survial instint to fight and live. How did you overcome this tendancy in your child?

Kelley Wallace May 23, 2011

Thank you for sharing your insights into anxiety. I have struggled with anxiety since childhood. I have never considered Hagar’s story from this perspective. Very helpful.

Amy May 23, 2011

Thank you for posting this!! What a wonderful way to start this day!! Blessings to you!!

I Live in an Antbed May 23, 2011

Submission to authority is a key to so much of what our walk here is supposed to be about. We discuss it almost every day of our parenting, it seems. I was also thinking, while reading your words that as we lower our heads in prayer, our spirits are able to calm down as we lay our hearts before.

Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home May 23, 2011

There is sweet peace in trusting God that he knows what he is doing.

Arabah Joy May 23, 2011

Bree-Anne, Praise the Lord! Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Kelley, bless you, sweet sister. I have had deep fears myself, so I know what it is like. What really helped me was to identify the core lies that sourced the fears. Sarah Mae’s book on core lies is helpful if you haven’t read it. Once I knew the specific lies at the root, I was better able to combat it with the truth and submit to God’s sovereignty and plan, even if I didn’t understand what He was doing or why. Submission is very helpful, because it is in essence letting God be God which frees you up from fear and control. I am praying for you tonight!

Arabah Joy May 23, 2011

Amy, thanks for your comment and your question about your adopted child.

I am certainly no expert. Our daughter is 4 years old and we’ve had her 3 years. For a while I had no idea what to do, what the issues were, I was just sort of thrown for a loop! Then, I realized that the issues she was facing were really spiritual issues at their root. Yes, they were emotional in nature, but even beyond that, they were spiritual. So knowing Satan’s schemes and how he fights became essential for me to learn. Basically, his main tool is lies. Fear stems from lies and identifying these in your child is an important part of the battle.

I identified two main lies for my daughter: 1. I’m going to be abandoned again. and 2. I have to take care of myself (control). These lies produce some very odd and even illogical behavior, but that is what lies do, don’t they? Knowing what they are equips me to handle them with her.

I offer her reassurance and truth directly related to those core lies, even doing it throughout the day when she is not experiencing panic. When she panics, I have learned to read her signs, which can be very deceiving (it often looks like rebellion) And I then go over very familiar calming questions, such as, “Does Mommy love you? (yes) Do you love Mommy? (yes) Mommy is here to help you. God gave you to mommy and He gave mommy to you so we can always have each other” etc.

Also, my daughter has food issues. Making sure she has regular snacks has been VERY helpful for our progress. It doesn’t have to be alot, just frequent, because one of her fears is that she will not get food. I don’t know if that applies to you or not…

Lastly, I would recommend Dr. Karyn Purvis’ book “Empowered to Connect” which is very helpful in highlighting the basic issues and strategies for children adopted from hard places.

I hope this helps, I’d love to hear how things go with you…

Beth Werner Lee May 23, 2011

So timely, thank you.
Last week Thursday and Saturday I fasted.
On Thursday it was revealed to me how I have lots of fear (that I didn’t face but ate instead).
On Saturday it was “Put on Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to satisfy its desires.”
On Sunday I had a strong reaction to something wrong but trusted my husband to intercede for me, and waited upon the Lord…still the feeling of fear in my gut though! It’ll be a long road, I suppose. But I like the image of the horse lowering its head. Thank you.

Arabah Joy May 24, 2011

Beth, I’m praying for you! Thank you for being sensitive enough to what God wants for your life to spend time fasting and praying. He came to set us free, praise His name. I am learning to use fear (and other negative emotions) as a trigger for submission, a lowering of the head and heart. Perhaps you may try it and let me know how it goes? Whenever you become aware of the fear, drop to your knees and practice surrendering the heart to the LORD…over and over. It is having profound changes in my life. Bless you, sister…

Melissa May 26, 2011

Ever since my kids (5, 3, 1.5) came along I’ve had terrible issues with anxiety, especially at night. All fears rise up and are named in that darkness. It’s been years of this, and I finally (finally!) started turning over in bed and praying for others, specifically and by name. If we can take accusations and fear and turn them to prayer and submission, the Lord brings us the rest of the way.

Hilary June 7, 2011

Beautifully written and wonderfully timed for my circumstances. I am desperately trying to let go but keep grabbing hold again. thank you.

Nikki June 13, 2011

Wow! Did I ever need to hear this! When my oldest daughter (will be 7 in July) was a baby, I was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. My minister mentioned something in passing about a song he wrote thanking God for his angels watching over his daughter and it created an image that brought me so much peace. I still really struggled, but was able to get to a point where I didn’t immediately cry at the thought of losing her. Fast forward a few years and now I have another baby girl, she’s 4 months old. Some of those old fears are resurfacing in the last week or so. Fortunately, I do recognize them for what they are and am better able to pray through it and put my reliance on God, but sometimes it is a constant battle.

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