It's what I heard my eldest daughter, Grace, yelling at the top of her lungs as she took off down the road all by herself.
For the first time. On her bike. With no training wheels.
She screamed it with such relief, such exhilaration and such joy. With every ounce of my mothering heart, I felt how much she truly meant it. I couldn't help but jump up and down, rejoicing with her.
You see, it has taken much coaxing over the years for her to be willing to sit on her wobbly, unstable bike, let alone ride it. She just wasn't interested. She had other things she preferred. But most of all, she was downright scared. Scared to death she'd fall down, get hurt, and experience pain.
algophobia--the fear of pain and discomfortAccording to what I've read, an algophobic is someone who tends to overestimate how bad pain could be and/or the danger of any given situation. In most cases, he or she gets very upset and loses control when the threat of pain is present. The individual often starts to cry and usually expresses symptoms of anger, panic, terror, dread and extreme fear. Ultimately the algophobic's number one concern in life is to protect himself/herself from unwarranted pain and discomfort. When he/she feels safe and protected, all is right in the world.
Now I fully realize I am in no position to diagnose my daughter with a phobia, nor do I desire to have her labeled with one.
I am not a physician, but I am a mom who has lived with my precious daughter for nearly eight years.
I've witnessed a doctor's office visit in which it took three nurses to hold her down just to give her a shot. I've seen the dread and panic she experienced this summer during swimming lessons and the death grip she had on the lifeguard when she was forced to go out where she couldn't touch.
Hunched over, I have run alongside her, holding onto the bicycle seat because she pleaded with me not to let go.
And I have held her hand multiple times when she desperately wanted to get her ears pierced, but in the end, didn't feel she had enough strength to go through with it.
Through it all, I have prayed for her and have tried to help her battle her fears.
I have reminded her that Jesus promised us that in this world we would have trouble (pain), but we can take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
I have spoken the comforting truth that God is with us always (Matthew 28:20b).
I have reassured her that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
But to someone who feels trapped, even enslaved, by their fears, it's a struggle.
To believe. To rest. To relinquish control. To trust. To take a leap of faith.
So we continue to petition the Father on our daughter's behalf. We consistently renounce fear in her life. As we do, we step back and have the privilege of watching God unlock the shackles one by one around her heart and mind. Every time He does, we witness a miracle.
As difficult as the battles have been, the victories have been a hundred times sweeter. And, in the past nine months, there have been many sweet victories.
We have seen Grace face her fears head on and with God's help, overcome them.
Last fall, we were there when she pushed through her intense fear of pain and mustered up the courage to get both ears pierced. We were also there when she didn't need to be wrestled down just to get a flu shot, but endured it with bravery instead. And most recently this summer, we were privileged to witness our little warrior princess pedaling away freely on her bicycle, unencumbered by training wheels or fear.
After all, it's for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1).
"F-R-E-E-D-O-M!" May it be a rally cry for us all.
"I prayed to the Lord and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4 (NLT)