When I was in the 3rd or 4th grade, our school invited some local firemen to visit and share with the school about fire safety. We learned to “Stop, Drop, and Roll” if you catch on fire, and then time was spent on what to do if a house ever caught on fire. 

They showed an instructional video detailing how you needed to keep your bedroom doors closed at night and could use the back of your hand to test for heat before potentially opening the door to escape. They explained where smoke detectors needed to be placed and how often to check and change the batteries. They emphasized the importance of crawling along the ground because smoke rises, so it’s easier to breathe when you’re close to the ground. They recommended that each family determine an exit plan should a fire occur and practice that exit plan to make sure that everyone could safely escape the house. 

Now I have always had a very healthy imagination and this fire presentation did not help it. I became very scared and anxious about my house catching on fire! My family didn’t have an exit plan–what if our house caught on fire?! One of my friends came over after school and we actually practiced taking the screens off of my bedroom window, climbing out the window, and safely jumping to the ground should there be a fire.

Now, if my house was going to burn down, I needed to have my most precious things collected and ready to take with me. I took a sweatshirt and used it to create a bundle full of my treasures, complete with a heavy rock to break a window if I needed to escape. Every night I would put my glasses in their case and then tuck them into my escape bundle. I didn’t sleep well and would often have nightmares full of fire. I would wake up each morning and be so thankful that my house hadn’t burned down.

I don’t remember how long this went on. A few weeks? A few months? But eventually, I relaxed and realized that my house and family were safe. Yes, accidents can happen and we want to be ready, but we don’t need to live every day afraid of what’s going to happen. The Bible tells us that God gives us a peace that passes all understanding and it guards our hearts and minds in Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Anytime I start to get scared or anxious and I don’t understand why, I can ask God for His peace and it will guard me. 

Here are some more tips for the next time you find yourself getting scared or anxious:

  1. Box Breathing. Count your breaths as you draw a box in the air.Breathe in for 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold it for 1, 2, 3, 4. Breath out for 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold it for 1, 2, 3, 4.
  2. Sing or listen to a song. One of my favorites is the Cares Chorus, #141 in the He is Our Song songbook. It goes, “I cast all my cares upon You. I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet. And anytime that I don’t know what to do, I will cast all my cares upon You.”
  3. Go outside in nature. Watch the birds and remember that God knows if a sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29-31). God sees you, loves you, and cares about what you’re going through.