The "F" Word
October 28, 2022
By Stacee Helton
I really hate the “F” word. It’s ugly and it makes me very uncomfortable. Even though I am fairly certain that we are probably thinking of two different “F” words right now, I can assure you, I don’t like either one of them. The “F” word that I’m referring to today is fear.
I guess if there is one major fear that I’m “known for”, it would be my fear of animals. I’ve lived my entire life without pets (except for a couple of goldfish that didn’t even last a month), and phoning ahead before a visit to a friend’s house, to ask them to please “put their dog up” before I come. Once, I even became a prisoner in my home for a few minutes, until a sweet friend came and rescued me, by removing a cat from my carport. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.
For animal lovers, I know this blows your mind. It must be very hard to understand how someone could be afraid of a little animal. “Were you ever bitten as a child?” is always the first question I get. No, not that I can recall. I do remember that we had a dog in my neighborhood that would chase me on my bicycle and bark like he was going to devour me, if my legs failed me! But, I had already been fearful long before then. For the most part, friends and family have been kind about it. And while my husband may not have understood it, he has always honored it. He will say “Stace” (he has always called me that)… “there’s a dog over there. Walk on this side of me, and just keep walking”. My hero.
So, when my daughter and her husband decided to get a dog last year (her first one, because we sure didn’t have one while she was growing up), I’m ashamed to admit that my first thought was “how could she do this to me?”. (I know… that was so awful). But oh… my shame was immediate. How in the world could I seriously believe that she had purposely set out to hurt me by bringing an adorable puppy into her home? (The absolute cutest one I have ever laid eyes on by the way). She had every right to finally have a dog. But why did it bother me so much?
Because the time had finally come for me to face this fear, and I knew it. No more living day-to-day, expecting others to help me navigate through life, avoiding sweet animals that honestly, I was afraid of but didn’t really know why. I knew that if I wanted to spend any amount of time with my kids, I would have to be around their little dog too. So, I did what any fearful Momma would do: I prayed.
I prayed daily that when I met Teddy, I would not be afraid of him. Over the next month, my daughter Facetime’d with me every evening. When I answered the phone, Teddy would always be sitting there, as if he had been the one to call me up! I watched him play and eat, and truly began to look forward to my calls from him.
By the time I arrived in town for my visit, I was quite anxious to meet him; both in the good way, and the extremely-nervous way. He was a puppy, so I expected he would jump up on me. (That has always been the thing that sends paralyzing fear through me). But when they opened the door, there he sat. So good. So sweet. So incredibly adorable. And for the first time in my memory, I reached down and picked up a dog. (Awkwardly, of course. I had no experience in this area!). The kids’ mouths fell open, but I was the most surprised. My mind saw him as a sweet little toddler, and God had miraculously answered my prayers. He is so good.
Since then, Teddy has taught me many things, and at times, has probably made my kids question if I love him more than them. (So funny!). If I ever start to forget it, Teddy now serves as a reminder that God cares so deeply about every single detail of my life. And yours! Nothing is too small or insignificant that He won’t use to help us break free from the things that hold us captive. He is ready to help us… we just have to ask.