My oldest and middle sons went to the doctor today for their annual checkup. The doctor told my husband that my middle son needed to get his MMR and chickenpox vaccine. Now my middle son has always been a champ at taking shots, barely even registering something was happening. My oldest son is a different story, and has always hated doctor visits period, let alone getting shots. As the nurse left to get the vaccines, my oldest said to my middle, “I’m sad for you. This is going to hurt.”

My middle son has never been afraid of shots before, but the suggestion that he should be afraid put him in full panic mode. He cried and flailed and screamed, and what had should have been an easy visit turned into a traumatic experience, all because someone else said he should be afraid.

How many of us are afraid of facing something because someone else told us we should be? How many of us internalize the negative attitudes of another and decide not to risk it because what if they’re right, even if we’ve had prior positive experiences with the very same thing? How many times has excitement or curiosity or even a “what if” been killed inside of us by someone who asked if we were scared?

I learned the lesson years ago that our words have power, and the capacity to create life or death in the heart of the listener. Even so, it is my responsibility to confront death sown in my spirit by the careless, or the anxious, or angry words of another. I have the power to prevent that seed of fear from taking root, and can decide that even if someone else feels negatively about a situation, I don’t need to; I can appreciate their concern and still not be dictated by it.

This isn’t an encouragement to be brave or do hard things. It’s the same reminder that if you put your feet on the floor today, you have power within your circumstances, and in this case, just because someone said you should be afraid or something is going to hurt you, doesn’t mean you have to agree.

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