Mar 032014 7 Responses

Fear: Clowns in the Closet

I know of two main antidotes to fear.

A young friend of mine doesn’t want to sleep in his bed these days.  If you ask ‘why not?’ he’ll tell you ‘because there might be clowns in the closet’—not monsters or robbers or even teachers, but clowns. (See: What Makes a Little Boy Cry)

There has been a rise in self-proclaimed coulrophobiacs over the past twenty years.  Most people who claim to be afraid of clowns, aren’t.  It is simply a good way to gain attention—to confess an alleged weakness without really revealing anything personal.  I seriously doubt that Sean Combs (P.Diddy) gets cold sweats when he sees a clown, yet he has a “no clown” policy in his contract.

While the fear of clowns might not be realistic, there is something very innocent about a four-year-old that is afraid of clowns.  We can identify with what is going through his mind.  We can imagine his little eyes peeking out of his covers toward the closet door.  We can see his imagination running wild dreaming of big red shoes, white faces, and multicolored wardrobes masking evil men who seek to do little boys harm.  We know too well his fear of being alone with no one to protect him from the clown fury that is surely coming his way.

I’ll never forget the last time I needed my father to take away my fear in the middle of the night.  In the afternoon my parents rearranged their bedroom furniture.  That night I was certain I had heard something in the kitchen.  I went into my parent’s room to wake my dad.  He awoke at a far faster pace than I expected.  Before I could say anything he jumped out of bed and began to run in the direction of the kitchen.  Unfortunately it was the wrong direction.  Before I could get his attention he had planted his face in sheetrock which buckled him to his knees.

Of all the times I cried out for my father out of fear, he never did such a good job of taking away my fear as he did that night.  From that point on whenever I would hear something that would scare me, I would remember watching the shadow of my father crumble in the darkness and my fear would be turned to laughter.

We can relate to my young friend not only because we have been in his trembling footed pajamas, but also because fear is not something saved for four-year-old children in dark rooms.  I know it’s just as prevalent at 36, and I assume at every age after that.

His fear is the same as our fears.  Yet unless John Wayne Gacey lives in his neighborhood, there is no legitimate reason why he should fear that clowns might be hiding in his closet, but good luck trying to explain that to him.  Instead, his parents will have to be patient, but as he matures he will stop being afraid of clowns and will stop fearing the possibility that they might be in his closet.

Chances are, most of our fears are no more legitimate, yet good luck trying to convince us. Our fears feel as real to us as his do to him. Yet when we have fear, I think God sees us in our footed pajamas and welcomes us into His arms with the hopes of making us feel loved and safe. Showing more patience than any earthly parent, He speaks words of reassurance and comfort:

  • “Fear not.”
  • “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • “Be still and know that I am God.”

There are a thousand different clowns which we can be afraid of today, but we haven’t been told to fear any of them. Instead, God continually reminds us that we have no need to be afraid. Fear is not necessary, because God is sovereignly in control. Nothing happens without his divine permission and everything will be used for His glory and our good. (See: You Aren’t What You Feel)

So if you are afraid today, consider either:

the words of God and release your fear

or imagine my Dad face-planting himself into sheetrock

One of those thoughts should take away your fear.

7 Responses to Fear: Clowns in the Closet
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