We took our first trip to the lake this summer. The Oklahoma sun was showing no mercy, so getting in the water was the only way to survive the heat. But I am not into water sports or activities, and neither is my husband. We stood with the water up to our waists and watched my brother and sister-in-law take our kids out on canoes and paddle boards. They were having so much fun, jumping off the paddle board into the water over and over again. My brother looked over at us and said, “Look at Moriah, she is fearless!” I smiled because Moriah, my ten-year-old, was in fact fearless in the water. I saw her confidently jump into the middle of the lake, swim, and climb back onto the paddle board. She was doing things that I was afraid to do.
When I was about her age, I was invited to my first pool party. I arrived late and everyone was already in the pool. I had never been in a pool before because I was raised in India. I didn’t want to embarrass myself by asking anyone to help, so I sat down near the pool and watched my friends. They began to wave and invite me to join them in the water. I slowly scooted my bottom to the edge of the pool and jumped in. I quickly realized I was in the deep end. My feet couldn’t touch the ground and I couldn’t get my head above water to breathe.
I panicked and tried to move towards the legs I could see underwater in front of me, but no matter how much effort I used, it was as if I was stuck. I thought surely they would feel the movement in the water with me kicking, but nobody was moving towards me either. Finally, somehow I came up out of the water. As I looked around, I realized no one even knew that I was drowning . . . they were all laughing and having fun. What seemed to me like an eternity of agony was simply seconds — seconds in which I could have died and no one would have noticed.
This moment, this memory, kept me in fear of ever getting into any pool, lake, or ocean. I had no interest in learning to swim or do any water sports.
For me, part of facing my fear was to make sure that I didn’t allow that fear to walk into my future. I wasn’t going to let my fear keep my daughter captive. I enrolled my kids in swim class and took them to the lake. I made sure my daughter felt safe and enjoyed the water, even if it wasn’t with me.
That day at the lake, watching my little girl fearlessly accomplish things that evoked fear in me as a little girl, was liberating.
But it takes so much courage to let your child go with someone else to do something you are afraid to do. It reminds me of the story of Moses’ mom, Jochebed, who was a slave and lived in fear of the Egyptians. Life for a Hebrew mother like Jochebed was especially terrifying after Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live” (Exodus 1:22 ESV).
Jochebed knew that she wasn’t going to let the fear that kept her a slave, also be her son’s demise. So she took her three-month-old precious baby boy, put him in a basket, and watched as he floated away in the river. If you know this story, you know that Pharaoh’s own daughter found the baby and took him as her own.
Though her infant was initially returned to her nurse, the boy was eventually given to Pharaoh’s daughter and Jochebed had to watch from a distance as another woman named and raised her son. I imagine part of her deeply grieved what was taken away from her, but I think she was also so grateful that her son was the first in their family to experience a life of freedom from slavery, because of her courage. Moses would then go on to liberate all the children of Israel from slavery.
Jochebed brought freedom not just to her son, but her entire people group because she wouldn’t let fear walk into her future.
For me, watching my daughter fearlessly navigate the lake was breaking a generational curse. It’s over now, fear has lost its power.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
Proverbs 31:25 NLT
Whatever fear has taken away from you, it doesn’t have to dictate your future. Take a small step of courage and speak these words over yourself today: “Fear is not my future!”