My son is 8. We let him watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone two nights ago. “Tsk, tsk,” you might scold. Or, perhaps some of you are saying, “It’s about time!”

He loved it when we watched it. As we fell asleep his mind was churning with questions as he pieced together the elements of the story: “Why were Harry’s foster parents so mean to him?” “Why did Voldemort drink unicorn blood” “If Dumbledore is there, Harry will be ok, right? Why?” And, on and on and on.

At 6am the following morning, he showed up at my door. “Mommy. I’m so scared. I have been laying in bed for an hour. I couldn’t get out of bed. There was a scary monster laying next to me.”

While I knew that there was not a scary monster that had been in his bed, it was 100% real to him. Vivid, lifelike and powerful, in his mind — yet, in reality, it was only his own conjuring that had held him captive in bed for an hour.

As I reasoned with him that morning, asking him if that monster was real or imaginary and explaining that imaginary things cannot hurt us, I felt God (however you define the divine) grant me a peek into His world. How often must He see us hold ourselves back by figments of our own imagination. How often He must see us imagine outcomes that don’t exist (If I trust my heart, I might fail; If I move to that city, it will be too hard to start again; If I say ‘yes’ to that opportunity, there’s no way I can do it with the skills I have).

As a mother, reassuring my son, I knew with complete certainty that there were no monsters that he needed to fear. And, despite my son’s agreement that these monsters (that he was beyond-afraid of) were imaginary, he remained paralyzed last night as we tried to turn off the lights and go to bed. In my mind, I was thinking (with a slightly frustrated tone), “Why are we even spending time on this anymore? He knows they are imaginary! Why won’t he trust me when I tell him it will be ok?”

Like a lightning bolt I heard in my heart what God must think (hopefully in a less frustrated tone): “Why won’t you trust me, child, when I’ve told you and shown you and proved to you that I will care for you?” Let me be clear, the universe doesn’t lead us to a place of comfort — the universe leads us to a place of refinement, with challenges and failures and joys that bring us closer to God. Yet, in it all, we are not alone.

No matter the spiritual tradition to which your belief system aligns, we are fellow travelers plagued by the same self-doubt and self-reliance. Yet, we are not meant to do life on our own. At times, we need to tap into trust and release ourselves from false constraints that are holding us back from living into our potential.

Take a checkpoint: What imaginary monsters are holding you captive?

Isaiah 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
2 Timothy 1:7: For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.
Psalm 34:4: I sought the Lord, and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.

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