I learned a new word the other day- tokophobia.
Any guesses on what this word means?
I’ll help you out.. fear of childbirth.
Now, it is pretty common for expectant women to have worries and anxieties related to childbirth but, tokophobia can become so severe and debilitating that it causes women to go to extreme lengths to avoid getting pregnant or avoid natural childbirth.
The term caught my attention because I experienced this phobia myself when I was pregnant with my daughter- I just didn't know there was a name for it! I'll never forget the feeling of such intense fear and panic that washed over me when I realized I was in labor and that my daughter was coming. It was a paralyzing emotion that I went into a state of delirium. In my mind, I rationalized that if we didn't go to the hospital then labor wouldn't progress, the baby wouldn't be born and all would be well. Never mind that I was 9 months pregnant, 60+ pounds overweight, had a bulging sack, and was already 8 centimeters dilated! Fear took control and all reasonableness and rationalization went out the window- I became a mad-woman completely out of touch with reality! Thankfully my husband wasn’t having any of my nonsense and physically made me go to the hospital.
Fear is such a powerful motivator it can make us do things that defy logic and common sense. Don’t believe me?
How else do you explain the run on toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic? Irrational fear of not having enough bath tissue for a respiratory illness? Come on- what did one have to do with the other? Fear. Plain and simple.
Take a look at the headlines on any given day- stories that frighten get more attention and provoke action over those that contain rational facts and arguments. Heck, marketing has been using fear tactics for years to boost sales and politicians use fear to gain votes and compliance.
Basic self-preservation and comfort are such strong influencers that it is easy for fear to manipulate even the strongest of wills and none are immune.
We must be careful because fears that go unchecked have long-term consequences as they tempt us into making terrible decisions, keep us trapped in a state of desperation while cloaked in a layer of false comfort and preservation. Fear can blind us and keep us from our fullest potential.
Fear defeats more people than any other thing in the world. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
So how do we rid ourselves of unnecessary fear?
Not an easy challenge, as fear is a basic human condition. But, that’s where we need to start-
Recognize fear. See fear for what it is – an emotion that drives your thoughts, feelings, and even body sensations.
Understand that fear is a powerful force that needs your attention. Instead of avoiding it- meet it head-on and spend time thinking over its origin, validity, and impact.
Put fear into perspective. Fear is a temporal condition that does not belong in the life of a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Over the years, I’ve experienced many challenges where fear raised its ugly head and I had to work through the process of dealing with it and learning to put my trust in God in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.
I have to remind myself of God’s faithfulness and consider other people’s mistakes. One such story frequently comes to mind… Moses and the Israelites. God wanted to have an intimate relationship with the Israelites and invited them to Mount Sinai to fellowship with Him. Yet, the Israelites were too afraid and instead sent Moses up the mountain alone. Moses put aside his fears, received God's blessings, and enjoyed direct fellowship with the Lord while the Israelites missed out on His presence altogether. Fear held them back from God’s best.
When we fail to recognize fear and allow its voice to dominate it will drown out God's voice. We will no longer be able to hear and receive direction from the Holy Spirit because we are listening to a voice of death instead of the voice of life.
We will miss God’s invitation.
God calls us to ascend the mountain with Him. He has nothing to be afraid of and as His children, we, in turn, have nothing to fear. The Bible tells us in 365 passages to “fear not.” Daily reminders that when we walk by faith God will always lead us into perfect peace and lasting truth.
The key to overcoming fear is to take our hope out of this world- a world filled with temporal things and place it in the eternal- to be willing to not only listen to the Spirit of Truth but dare to boldly ascend the mountain because of Christ's perfect love.
Those that know Jesus the Messiah, have nothing to fear because nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
Walk by faith because fear has no place. Perfect love casts it out every single time.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:10