Heartbeat. Moving. Stillness. Cramping. Spotting. Hospital birth. Homebirth. Breastfeeding. Formula. Acid Reflux. Sleep schedule. Colic. Vaccinations. First food. First tooth. Crawling. Walking. Falling. Bumps. Bruises. Stitches. Blood work. Fevers. Viruses. Well-checkups. Ear infections. Night terrors. Eczema. Croupy coughs. Allergies. Hurricanes. Terrorists. Veggies. Protein. Calcium. Iron. Vitamins. Omega - 3s. Probiotics. Wheat. Gluten free. Dairy free. Cage-free. Socialization. Sandboxes. Cat urine. Bullies. Day care. Nanny. Pre-K. Private school. Public school. Home school. Bus rider. PTA. Grades. Cavities. Braces. Snakes. Bee stings. Mosquito bites. Broken bones. Puberty. Clicks. Friends. Drivers Ed. Dating. Prom. Graduation. College. Roommates. Rent. Cockroaches. Jobs. Marriage. Grandchildren. Rinse and repeat.
What do all these things have in common? Well, they give us gray hair for sure (I’ve counted 9 as recently as yesterday. One for every year I've been a mother. Cry with me please!). But, this incomplete list also produces fear. And I’m sorry if you are on the PTA, but, yes it scares me, and there is never coffee at any of the meetings so…moving on.
Fear creeps into our minds and steals our peace the moment we find out we are pregnant. Every twinge and cramp brings all kinds of worries to our minds. We wonder if the baby is ok. Is he/she growing? Moving? Deep breath…
Our carefree days are gone. We no longer feel the freedom to run from one adventure to the next because now there is a long list of worries to consider. If you think I’m exaggerating, take a look inside the diaper bag of a newborn. You have a teeny tiny person who can’t even lift their head by themselves and yet we pack the back of the car to the roof with items this little bit might need on a one hour excursion.
Because we are desperate to manage and control every possible scenario we may encounter. We never want to be found lacking in our ability to do this parent thing. We want to feel confident and sure of ourselves. We are all trying to appear like we know what we are doing when really we are all scared out of our minds and our sense of control is flimsy at best.
Fear drives us to put covers on our outlets and baby gates on our steps. Fear compels us to purchase expensive video baby monitors and pacifier wipes. Fear steals our time as we search WebMD for answers that we hope will give us peace of mind. Fear convinces us that our best efforts at mothering will produce psychologically and emotionally screwed up kids and so we buy more books and stop using the word “no” so we don’t accidentally smash little princess’s fragile self-esteem (I’ll give you a moment to do some excessive eye-rolling. In fact I’ll join you).
Our mothers and grandmothers shake their heads at us and say things like “I didn’t have those things back when I was having babies and you all turned out just fine.” We respond with “True. Buuuut….”.
Babies R’ Us banks on the fear of millions of mothers. We want to ensure our children’s safety and so they sell us the most expensive car seat (with matching stroller that such and such Hollywood actress uses so it must be the best, blah, blah, blah) with the highest safety ratings, trying to convince us that this guarantees our children will be safe. But there are no such guarantees. Not really. Even the best of the best can’t make those kinds of promises. We put our trust in them anyway, hoping we don’t find ourselves in the margin with those who experience a manufacturers’ defect.
The struggle is real. I hear it all the time in conversations with other moms. I see the lines in their furrowed brows as they talk about the fears they are wrestling with and their lack of solutions. They refer to the research they’ve read in mountains of blogs and books. Everything from establishing sleeping habits, to teaching toddlers not to scream. Whatever issue we face as parents, there’s probably a book (definitely a blog) written on the subject. And I have read many of them with trembling hands and that same furrowed brow.
One of the greatest tragedies that result from living in constant fear for our children is that we cease enjoying these childhood years. There is no joy to be found on a sunny day at the park when you are on edge about skin cancer and dehydration.
If one spends too much time Googling, they will find all sorts of things to add to their list of fears. Trust me. I’ve done it. My current worry is a small “owie” my toddler has that she keeps picking at and reopening. The other day she had blood smeared all over her leg like she was an extra in Braveheart or something. It’s a tiny cut that should have already healed. Now I’m worried about staff infection. Oh dear. And I know that there are many solutions. Band-aids being the most obvious. But she has a meltdown every time I put one on her so I rub on some more anti-bac salve and pray we don’t have to amputate.
Where does this fear come from? What do we do with all of this ridiculous, and sometimes not ridiculous, fear? How do we find relief for our mothering hearts?
While searching for answers can be good and helpful, we are never going to be able to deal with the root of the anxiety in our souls until we start looking elsewhere for solutions. We may be able to curb the fear that rises up in us by arming ourselves with techniques, equipment, information and anxiety meds, but these things will not remove fear. The entire bottle of Lavender oil isn't enough to calm us in the deepest part of our hearts.
We fear, because we love these little people. Yet, perfect love removes all fear (1 John 4:18), so our love for them is very flawed. Imperfect. Laced with anxious tendencies.
No one knows the danger that is lurking, the evil waiting to devour our children, better than God. He knows, not just the wickedness of the broken world that wants to harm them physically, but He also knows the depravity of sin within their own hearts that brings tragedy much greater than anything that could happen to their bodies. Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Oh dang. And so Jesus prays to His Father in John 17, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” He doesn’t pray for us to be safe. He prays for us to be saved. Think about that for a minute.
God is the perfect Father, who loves perfectly, never motivated by fear, like we are. He does not pave the way for us to live without pain and suffering, neither does He leave us alone to figure it out. Because of His perfect love for us, we don’t have to be afraid. We can trust that He is keeping us from the evil one. This doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen, it means that the evil one cannot have us. Believers belong to Christ. The only thing we really have to fear is eternal separation from God. Everything else is extremely minor in comparison. And through Jesus’ work on the cross, the way has been made to save us from that separation. So while we are still facing hardship, and while we are watching our children suffer hardship, we can have peace knowing that God will keep us, and our children, from the evil one. He will be with us in every situation. We cannot be lost again. Whatever we face. He is our only true hope.
When my husband and I board a plane to go somewhere without the kids, I am reminded of the reality of Jesus as my only true hope. I really enjoy flying, but there is this moment that comes every time the plane starts to take off that I kinda panic. My one thought is, “If this plane crashes, my children will be orphaned.” And in that moment, I cannot get off the plane. I cannot force the pilot to land the plane, run home and scoop up my daughters. I cannot even access Google to find the DIY way to parachute out of a commercial aircraft using only a handbag and a cardigan! All I can do, is ask Jesus to be with my children should they be orphaned today. He is my only hope in that moment. All of my resources are useless. There is nothing else I can do. All I can do is trust God, knowing that He won’t always keep my children from sorrow, but that He will be with them as they go through it. And guess what? I always feel His peace in that moment. Every time. Every flight.
I know that He loves my children even more than I do and that He will keep them with or without me. What a sweet relief this is. The peace of God is truly beyond my understanding. It seems too simple. It seems like there should be more to it, more work that we need to do to achieve peace. We like feeling powerful and in control of our lives, but that control is not real. It is an illusion.
We are all fooled by false security. We all want something tangible in our hands that we can use to protect our loves. We desperately want peace of mind. But after all the books have been read, and hours on Google are spent, will we really have peace? Lasting peace that cannot be stolen? Who, but God, has that kind of peace to give? Who, but Jesus, can we trust when life is completely out of our control?
Some of you are facing insurmountable pain and grief. Sorrow is very real for you right now. The worst that you feared would happen, happened. Will you trust God now, even still? Do you believe He can give you peace and calm your fears? Has He already? How can you encourage someone else who is living in the shadow of fear?
My prayer for you today is that you will trust God with all of your fears. Even the ones about your children, their safety, their development, their health, their education, their spiritual well-being, their whole selves for their whole life. I pray that today you will be able to rest in the comfort and peace that only Jesus can give.
“…Put your trust in the LORD. There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good?’ Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD! You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:5-8 ESV