I started praying 1 John 4:18 before I even held my son in my arms. It was January 2011 and I was boarding the plane that would carry me and my husband across the ocean to a bustling city in Ethiopia. I hadn’t stepped onto a plane in years and was now forced to confront one of my deepest fears. Flying.
As I buckled into my seat I listened intently as the flight attendant gave us the safety instructions. The plane began to taxi and sweat beads formed on my palms and brow. I tried to swallow back tears thought I could calm myself by reading the Bible sitting in my lap. My hands shook as I fumbled with the pages and I glanced down to find the words blurred together. I closed the book and my eyes and as I did a verse came to mind.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” – 1 John 4:18
So I sat and repeated that verse over and over as the plane lifted off the ground and tears fell from my eyes. One thing prompted me to step onto that plane to begin with: love. I knew a little boy named Mareto was waiting for me on the other side of that flight. My son. I had been waiting for Mareto for years
My journey to my son started with praying 1 John 4:18 and over five years later I still silently plead with God to cast out our fears … for love and for peace.
It’s dark and quiet with just the gentle hum of a sound machine and dim glow of the smoke detector blinking on the wall. I’m laying on my side with a little boy curled into a tight ball snug against my body. His fingers grip my arm and I can feel his heart pound rapidly against my chest. A glance at the clock shows me that it’s just past midnight and I softly hum into his ear while hugging him tight and praying silently …
“There is no fear in love… perfect love casts out fear. Please. Cast out our fear tonight.”
Mareto struggles with anxiety. It’s particularly heartbreaking for me to watch because as someone who also struggles with an anxiety and panic disorder, I have an idea of what daily life is like for him. When Mareto wakes up in the middle of the night damp with sweat and panting in terror I ache with compassion because I can recall just a few nights earlier waking from a deep sleep consumed with panic. I don’t want that for my son.
So I pray and comfort and convince him of my love and God’s love.
I don’t always have the words to pray. Mothers often lift prayers in the form of inward groans, exhausted sighs, and quiet tears. When I’m aching for my kids and I can’t find the words, Scripture is the place I turn. God always has the right words and so I just repeat his promises right back to him. And I know that the God who was faithful to help me in my own fear will be faithful to ease my son’s fear as well. Because God’s love is perfect and God’s love is unfailing.
This is what I pray for Mareto in the dark of the night when it’s hard to sleep and we are weary and frightened. This is what I pray when we walk into a new environment and I see his eyes widen and dart around the room or the noise of the world gets overwhelming and he tries to shrink into himself.
And I pray for perfect love to cast out fear when I lay awake in the middle of the night overwhelmed with worry for the boy I love more than my own life.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear …Lauren Casper is the author of It’s Okay About It: Lessons from a Remarkable Five-Year-Old about Living Life Wide Open. She is a top contributor to the TODAY Parenting Team, and has had numerous articles syndicated by The Huffington Post, The TODAY Show, Yahoo! News, and several other publications. Lauren makes her home in Virginia with her husband, two beautiful children, and one fluffy dog.