Ophidiophobia: abnormal fear of snakes
For as long as I can remember I have been terrified of snakes. And not just your average, “Ew, gross! Get that thing away from me!” But like an actual paralyzing paranoia that I hid from people for the majority of my life.
- I scream when I see snakes on television
- I fold my sheets under my feet at night so snakes can’t sneak into my bed
- I have extreme difficulty walking across empty fields; it’s almost impossible if I’m alone
- As a child, I didn’t want to play in my backyard because I thought there were snakes back there
- When I went to visit my mother recently, I ran from the house to the garage for fear that a snake might catch me in the ten feet between each door.
- I enjoy hiking, but I will typically scream three or four times at least, because, “I thought I saw a snake!”
- I get pretty freaked out when I see snakes at the zoo. I usually just try to walk past them as quickly as possible and pretend they aren’t there.
- Throughout my life I have had incredibly scary nightmares about snakes surrounding me, giant snakes eating me, and more recently people turning into snakes.
It’s bad. Really bad. I didn’t even realize it until after I got married. Up till that point, no one had been close enough to notice just how bad it was.
We spent our honeymoon at a beautiful and romantic cabin in Colorado. My adventurous husband and I embarked on our first hike together, and to my complete and utter terror, he asked me to stray from the trail and climb the side of a hill. It wasn’t a grassy hill either; it was just dirt! In an attempt to continue the facade that I was as fearless as he believed me to be, I tried to climb the hill. It was very slippery, and with each step I took it seemed like I just slid further down, and then bugs started flying out of the dirt! My fear overtook me; I ran away from the hill, crying and defeated. I could not conceal my fear any longer.
Shock, hurt, and confusion ran across my husband’s face as he realized just how terrified I was at the possibility of encountering a snake. He felt like I didn’t trust him to protect me, and I felt like he didn’t understand, and was just trying to push me too far out of my comfort zone.
We’ve been married three years now, and a few weeks ago we were talking about my fear of snakes on the way to church. It started out as a joke; I’m not even sure how it got brought up. The tone of my husband’s voice changed, “Seriously, though,” he said, “it holds you back. I want you to be free to do the things that you love. You love being outside, and this irrational fear of snakes is holding you back.” It was a sobering statement. I had not taken it seriously, and for the rest of our drive to church, I sat quietly contemplating whether or not it was a fear that I could overcome.
We arrived late to church, found our seats, and blended our voices into the congregation’s praise. At one point in worship, I sat down, and held my head in my hands, trying to drown out the distractions, and meet with God. I heard His voice; He greeted me kindly. Then He showed me my heart. He pointed to my fear of snakes, and said something along the lines of this, “You ask Me to take away all your other fears; fear of rejection, disappointment, failure, death, and mental illness, but you refuse to surrender this part of your heart to Me. When you do this, you are refusing to surrender all of your heart to Me; you are instead saying that you think you can take care of yourself better than I can. You think that you don’t need to surrender your fear of snakes to Me because you feel like your fear will protect you. You have made fear an idol because you have trusted it over Me. Therefore, fear has become your master, and that is what has ruled over your life.”
I realized the truth of these words and acknowledged that they were in line with Scripture. I was deeply humbled. I repented of my sin and surrendered all of my heart to God; all of my fear, even the fear of snakes. Peace washed over me.
The following weekend my husband and I went to a large ranch with his family to celebrate the Fourth of July. We did all sorts of outdoor activities, and while a little bit of the fear was still in the back of my mind, it didn’t control me anymore, and I didn’t let it hold me back.
What is your will submitted to? God or fear? Are you walking in surrender? Have you surrendered every part of your heart to God? Or are there still a couple of rooms you want to keep to yourself?
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” Psalm 37:3
“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7