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“Fear is one of those things that grips us all. My grandpa was one of the toughest and bravest men I knew and yet he was still terrified of snakes, a creature I’m willing to hold. But snakes aren’t mine to fear. I have plenty of misplaced anxieties: spiders, heights, shallow conversations, but my greatest fear was something much more sacred. I only voiced it to a few people throughout my life and now I’m sharing it with all of you.
Nearly seventeen years ago, I was terrified the child I birthed would never love me. I was afraid she would never want to know me, meet me, hug me, hear me… and like most fears, it left me frozen.
This photo is everything to me. It’s a visual reminder of the joy within. It’s evidence of a relationship that is growing more comfortable and deeper as the years pass. It’s confirmation of a blessing I never saw coming and of a good God who wanted nothing less than to make beauty from my ashes.
Eight years ago, I felt called into student ministry. I felt God nudge me. I felt His spirit answer a prayer I had cried out in frustration for years, ‘God, if you love your people, why would you allow so many bad things to happen to them? To me?’ At the time, we were attending one of the biggest churches in our community. I was sitting in the pew listening to our pastor explain Genesis in a way I had never considered it before. God created the world and then gave man dominion over it. Man, in turn handed the land over to Satan when they sinned in the garden. They traded the goodness of God for Satan’s deception and in that moment the contract changed. All throughout scripture we read about Satan roaming the earth seeking those he may devour.
This truth alone seems grim. It was enough to begin to restore my faith in a loving God but it didn’t offer hope for the things I had endured. Same church, same pastor and I was listening as he spoke on hell’s tragedies becoming heaven’s testimony. There was the answer I had been praying for. I had walked through hell and made it out alive, fairly sane, and still full of so much life. It was my job to go back with buckets of water for those still consumed by the flames. (Favorite quote: ‘I love when people that have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.’ Stephanie Sparkles) I felt a deep desire to dive into high school ministry but was equally terrified by the idea. I knew I had a story that could relate to many of them, they needed to see that you could face a hard life and walk out of the other side but exposing my own hardships and struggles didn’t sound easy or fun… so I ran.
Eight years ago, the guilt was overwhelming. I knew without a doubt I was supposed to be using my story to help others and I couldn’t run from that calling any longer. I found the high school student pastor, introduced myself, and dove in. One week later I received a phone call that would rock my world…
‘Is this Raquel? This is Bethany Christian services. Your birth daughter’s parents have contacted us and want to know if you would be willing to meet? They said your birth daughter would really like to meet you.’ I still remember where I was standing and the feeling of utter shock and disbelief. The fear I had held onto for so long was being torn down, one brick at a time. Fear really is an all-consuming force and I believe it holds us back from so much goodness. Despite this news, I found ways to manipulate the fear in ways that still allowed it to follow me. ‘Well, she’s only 9. She may still lose interest in me.’ But God fought for my joy, He redeemed a part of me that I felt was lost forever.
If there is anything I’ve learned about fear, it is this. Fear thrives in darkness. Had I exposed my fears to my birth daughter’s mama, she would have likely been able to put them to rest. I sat in assumptions for far too long. I wasted too many sleepless nights on thoughts that never deserved space to grow.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Raquel McCloud, 31, of North Carolina. Follow her family journey on Instagram here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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