January 14, 2014
“Edy Jane, why are you up?”
It was about the fifth time she had gotten out of bed that night, and Josh and I had had it.
She was 3 ½ years old at the time. Sweet, smart, and somewhat resembling a Dr. Seuss character…
But her critical thinking skills were poor.
Having already used all the usual excuses- I’m cold. I’m thirsty. I need to go to the bathroom. Etc.- the blank look on her face told that she hadn’t planned ahead for this one.
The wheels spun wildly, and finally she produced the best possible excuse that a toddler out of bed and aware of her impending demise could come up with on the fly:
“Um…”(she paused here for dramatic effect) “I think I might be scared of something.”
Yeah, we laughed.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fear this week.
About when and why and if it’s ever okay to be afraid. About how I never taught Edy to be scared of the dark or of her room, but how naturally she seems to have come by it. About how thankful I am that my parents didn’t raise me in a household of fear but of faith. About how desperately I want to do the same for my children.
Because my kids are watching how I deal with fear, and fear is extremely contagious.
I jog in the morning, often while it’s still dark, and when people (that is, women) find out, I consistently get asked the same question. “But aren’t you afraid to run alone?”
“No,” has always been my standard answer, but I admit that a few months back all their questions got me to wondering. Should I be?
One morning not long after that, as I approached the park where I always run, I noticed a man wearing a baseball cap and leaning against a building across the way. It was still fairly dark out and seemed an odd time and place for anyone who wasn’t also exercising to just be hanging around. With all those “Aren’t you afraid?” voices lingering in my head, I got a little nervous.
As the path took me in his direction my heart rate began to rise. I didn’t want to give into the paranoia, but this was getting creepy. He just stood there, not moving a muscle. Was he watching me as I grew closer? Was he waiting for me? Should I turn back now, head home, and just pray he didn’t follow?
But I didn’t stop.
And he didn’t move.
He waited. Still as a stone.
I can’t believe this, I thought. They were right!
But it was too late now.
I came within about 10 yards of him.
My eyes focused. I was ready.
And he was a trashcan.
My scary man in a baseball cap waiting to attack me was actually a trashcan with some extra garbage piled on top.
Again, I had to laugh…and go get my eyes checked.
So is fear ever okay?
Yes, we fear God because the fear of God is beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10), and, yes, we respect dangerous situations and teach our children to do the same.
But what about the other fears? The ones that keep us from going out at dark, or talking in front of groups, or offering to help a stranger in need? The kind that cripple us and then bleed over onto our children so that they fear the dark, the stranger, the person in need?
God is pretty straightforward about those actually.
“Do not fear,” he says, “for I am with you.” (See Isaiah 41:10)
Simple, yes. Easy, no.
Tomorrow, our sweet Hads will go in for minor surgery.
While it is quite routine and something many of you may have also experienced, this is a first for us. I fought hard against it in the beginning, and though I now believe that it is the best thing for her, it goes against every ounce of my being not to let my mind go crazy with worry and fear.
I cannot protect her in there.
I do not know what will happen.
My flesh is weak.
So I’ve got a choice to make here. Fear or faith?
What’s it gonna be, Hannah?
So here goes.
I’m staking a claim in this one and holding on firm. I’m going to choose to actually believe that God wrote Isaiah 41 (and all those other bazillion “do not fear” verses) and that He wrote them as truth. I’m going to die to my natural scaredy-cat self and choose to trust.
Because I need Isaiah 41, and I need it to be real. Now.
Thanks to all who commented on last week’s blog. Reading through each one brought me such joy through the week, and I am so grateful that so many of you took the time to recall God’s kindness to you in such a public way. He was absolutely glorified!
The winner of a copy of God Bless You and Good Night is Melissa S. Congrats!
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