By Nancy Canwell
If only I hadn’t watched that movie!” That’s what I said to myself during a Sabbath afternoon hike with my husband and daughter. Sure, I was a grown-up now. But when I was 10 years old, I’d watched a movie called The Night of the Grizzly. It was terrifying! And I’d feared bears from that day on.

We were hiking along a narrow, remote logging road, and I felt unsettled. The left side dropped down into a deep ravine, and the right side was covered in thick brush. I was leading the way when suddenly I saw some kind of animal race across the road and scramble up a tall fir tree. It was only about 50 feet away, but it moved so fast that I couldn’t tell exactly what it was. Then another one ran across the road and up the tree. Now I stopped, and my husband walked up behind me. That’s when a third one darted across the road and scampered up the tree.

“That was a bear cub!” my husband exclaimed.

“Well I just saw two others run up the tree,” I said. “So if those are cubs, then the mother bear must be. . .” But I didn’t get to finish my sentence. Right then the mother bear came out of the brush about 75 feet in front us. She was jet-black, and she was big! Even though she was on all fours, her head was higher than my waist! I froze and stared at her. She froze and stared at me. Several long seconds passed. And then with a huff, she ducked back into the thick brush and was gone.

The three of us backed away nervously, watching the brush for the mother bear, until we were completely out of danger. I couldn’t believe what had just happened! I’d faced my biggest fear since childhood—and I had survived!

What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of the dark or thunderstorms? Are you afraid of spiders or snakes? Are you afraid of heights or deep water? These things do call for caution, but you don’t need to live in dread of them. You’ll probably outgrow many of your fears in time. But with the right help, you can begin to conquer them now. Talk to a parent, grandparent, teacher, pastor, school counselor—someone you trust. They can help you.

But the One who can help you the most is Jesus. He understands your fears better than anyone else. Talk to Him about them. Ask Him to always be your protector. Read calming Bible texts. My favorite one when I was your age was Psalm 34:7: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (NIV). I still like that text! I like to picture angels surrounding me when I’m afraid. Another favorite was a promise in Isaiah 41:10. The Message says it this way: “ ‘Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.’ ” Picture Jesus being right there with you when you’re afraid—because He really is! Even though you can’t see Him, He’s there—always.

The best thing to do with fear is to take action. Face your fear head-on the way I faced the bear. You can do it! And when you do, you’ll feel a little stronger, a little more grown-up, and a lot more confident!

*Texts credited to Message are from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.