Parental Fear

The Lord is my light and my salvation…whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life…of whom shall I be afraid?  Psalm 27:1

Fear.  Something parents have to fight on an almost daily basis from conception or adoption signing.  Will I carry to term this time?  What if those tests say there’s something wrong with the baby?  Then every little noise during the night…or no noise at all…what’s wrong?  As they start to crawl and stand and walk we realize how many dangers there are just in our home.  And then, the big wide world…how will I keep my precious child safe?  As our babies go to school we come to the realization that there are hours at a time when we have no control whatsoever!  Germs and sharp objects and other children and teachers and playground equipment and flying balls and…the list goes on and on.  And that’s not even peeking at our children’s own thoughts and feelings and perceptions.  Parenting is, by far, the most fearful endeavor I have ever undertaken.

I have a son in the Army Infantry.  He mentioned in passing that they’re told very clearly that each of them is “expendable” and they are treated as such.  Another of my four sons is making plans to join the Air Force in the very near future.   I was asked recently if I was afraid for my boys.  It was one of those moments that seem to last forever in your head, but in reality, the asker probably didn’t even notice my hesitation.  But in that moment I thought back through all the fears I’ve had as a parent of four boys.

Fears beginning with the spotting during my first pregnancy and extremely preemie twins, to the toddler who climbed a 30 foot pine tree, and the many, many, many trips to the ER with unknown illnesses, gashes and breaks, and intoxication levels that should have killed.  Fears of what I would find as I searched drawers and backpacks.  Racing heart fears with the middle of the night phone call or no call at all.  Fear as they led a son away in handcuffs.  Fear as I held a sobbing child with no knowledge of how to comfort his pain, and fear of the rage and violence building inside a young man that had enough strength to do serious damage.  Fear as they left the nest and fear as they returned.  Fear of their lack of fear.  Fear of their ignorance.  Fear of the consequences of their choices.  Fear of my own inadequacy.

In some twisted way I understand the “you are expendable” message given to my son and many other mothers’ sons, and now daughters, in the infantry.  I’m guessing the ones giving that message would be shaking-in-their-boots afraid if they had to face the women who gave birth and/or raised those soldiers.  Not one of our children is ever expendable to us.  That’s where the fear comes from.

But, in that moment of hesitation in answering, it wasn’t just the fears that ran through my mind, it was the faith that has been built through those fears.  The peace that flowed through my mind and heart in those minutes before I answered was palpable, it was refreshing and quenching and I could almost see the Lord smiling at me through the tears that clouded my vision for a moment.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  Psalm 34:4-5

I wish I had known this peace when the fears began, but I am thankful for the lessons learned through those fears.  The Lord is the only one that has real control.  The only one that knows my mama-fears and understands my heart.  Jesus is the only one that can really give me any comfort and strength when I have no ability to fight the fears myself.  When I seek the Lord, he does answer me.  Sometimes with a yes and sometimes with a no, but always with my best, and my sons’ best in mind.  I may not look radiant to most, but I honestly answered that question with “no…I’m not afraid…the Lord has delivered me from all my fears.”

Lord, you are our deliverer, our strength and shield from all those things that we fear.  Please remind us to seek your face, to look to you and not the things we fear.  Your plans stand firm forever, Lord, and we trust you from beginning to end.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stacey Ray

Stacey has been married to Rex for 25 years and together they parent four sons ages 17 to 23. Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development. Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s current favorite quote is: “To be significant, all you have to do is make a difference with others wherever you are, with whatever you have, day by day.” (John Maxwell, “Intentional Living”).

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