Facing your demons: fighting fear with courage

The sounds of Africa by night can be scintillatingly soothing. I fondly remember lying in bed at night listening to the whirring of ceiling fans, the choruses of crickets, and the pounding of heavy showers on tin roofs.

But the sounds of Africa by night can also be chillingly haunting.

  • The shriek of a witch doctor performing a curse
  • The moans of a child hallucinating with malaria
  • The bloodcurdling screeching and droning chants of cultish groups performing exorcisms.

It was the last of these that I remember being terrified by as a child.

In Ivory Coast, we lived for a time near a compound of ‘Christianisme Céleste’ devotees. Their worship rituals didn’t seem quite so frightening by day, but during the night, to a young girl of seven, it felt as though gnarly fingers of darkness, carried by their songs, were reaching through my window… swirling round my bed and always on the brink of snatching me away.

It got to the point where I was terrified each night to go to bed, because I knew that awful singing, chanting, drumming and screeching would begin all over again.

One day, my mum decided enough was enough. I’ll never forget the steely look of indignation on her face as she took me by the hand, and marched me round the corner to the entrance of a compound with whitewashed walls and a blue sign.

Our appearance caused quite the stir among the crowds of devotees, who were dressed from head to toe in white. Why on earth was a white woman marching over with her young child?

It was more than a little intimidating when a young man promptly shouted at my mum to take off her shoes. (We didn’t know at the time that this was an important emphasis of this group – probably inspired by the story of Moses and the Burning Bush.)

I felt awkward and frightened. But my mum seemed wholly unperturbed.

I heard her assure them briskly in no-nonsense French that God would hear their prayers just as well if they prayed them with a little less volume and if they moved their exorcism circle to the other edge of their compound – not right beside our bedroom window.

Believe it or not, a short time later they actually obliged.

I’ve never forgotten that event. That day taught me something very important.

I learned that it’s only when we have the courage to face up to our fears that things can ever change.

Fear magnifies. It makes the shadows bigger and the nights longer.

Fear torments. It grows and multiplies like cancer, doing untold damage in the process.

Courage, on the other hand, switches the light on. It exposes the source of the fear. It makes the shadows disappear. It forces us to acknowledge that the fear is there. But the fear isn’t as big as it first seemed.

Courage motivates. What we fear is still present, but at some point the determination to face it takes over.

Courage gives you the gumption to march over there and give that fear a good talking to. Enough is enough! This far and no further!

Courage transforms. Just because you face something head on, doesn’t mean your circumstance will change. But something within you will. And that’s well worth fighting for.

Fear magnifies. It makes the shadows bigger and the nights longer.


How do we defeat the gnarly fingers of fear in our lives?

🌱Acknowledge the fear is there

🌱Decide enough is enough

🌱March right over there and give it a good talking to

Then see what changes take place!

H x

Published by Hilary

Mum of two girls 👩‍👧‍👧 positive inspiration 💡 parenting 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 health 🏃‍♀️ life 💓 faith 📖

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