Have you ever eaten those Harry Potter jelly beans? Or watched someone on YouTube play the "Bean Boozled Challenge"? If you're unfamiliar, these jelly beans have one "good tasting" jelly bean (like lime, coconut, or chocolate pudding) and one "bad" one that looks identical (that would taste like grass, baby wipes, or dog food). If you've played before, can you remember how you felt, hoping your selection was NOT the gross jelly bean? Maybe you were scared...maybe you reached for a plastic bag to spit into if you really needed it.
First, I want to tell you that fear and anxiety are normal. This emotion teaches us to run away from things that might hurt us--can you imagine if we didn't feel fear or anxiety if we saw a bear on our walking trail?
I want you to write down into a journal or on a sheet of paper something that you were scared of when you were little. If you can't think of anything, ask your parents if there's something they remember you being scared of, or write down something a book character/movie character you know was afraid of.
We all struggle with fear--again, this is normal! Around Halloween, people even pay money to feel fear! But how many times were you afraid of something and found out that it wasn't actually that bad? Maybe you were scared of the dark when you were little--was it that bad? Were there actually monsters under your bed? Telling yourself that it was okay probably didn't help though, did it?
Fear is real, and your fears are valid. That particular emotion is so strong, and so powerful, and sometimes, we can do some crazy stuff to avoid that emotion. Now, write down under your childhood fear what you're afraid of today--maybe it's the dark, maybe it's public speaking, maybe it's the future. Although I can't tell you what the other youth have written down, you might be surprised to know that you all probably have similar fears--growing up, the current world, failing a class, spiders, the list could go on. Think about your body when you feel fear, now. Where do you feel fear? Draw the outline of a body and circle where you feel fear (ex. if your palms sweat, circle hands). Next time you feel scared, pay attention to where you feel anxiety and fear. It is normal--tell yourself these feelings are normal, and focus on your breathing. It is okay. You are okay.
The Bible talks about fear. In your Bible at home or using an online Bible, read Isaiah 41:9-10. I want you all, in this time, to repeat this particular piece of scripture to yourselves during this uncertain time. It is important--why? Is there anything we should really fear when we have God with us? God knows we struggle with fear, and He reminds us in this scripture that He is with us, always, and that we shouldn't fear. Say it with me: God is with me. God is with us. We are not alone.
He will strengthen us through this fear. His presence gives us hope and gives us strength. Do not be afraid. Look at the fears you have written--picture yourself facing them alone, and then picture yourself facing those situations with God standing next to you. This is reality: you don't face these things alone. You face them with God--and you also face these fears with the support of your friends, family, and of course, your church family. God is greater than all of our fears and he will give us the strength to face them with time.
Think about the following questions:
1) When is it hardest for you to remember not to be afraid?
2) What causes you fear when thinking about the future? Talk to someone you love and trust about this.
3) How does it make you feel knowing that God is with you each hour of every day? Does it help you?
Stay strong. You are loved and you are not alone.