This is one of those days when I could let fear run over me like a freight train, crippling me and keeping me from getting where I need to go. But I chose to let God's love throw that fear right out of my path so I can breath easier and move on.
Abby is getting on the dreaded yellow school bus this afternoon and making the three hour ride to Phoenix on I-10, not my favorite stretch of highway. She's heading to the state competition for One Act Play. I'm thrilled for her, but I always have to deal with a familiar set of fears when I let one of my children go somewhere like this.
If you live in Arizona you know how often I-10 has to completely shut down in the passage between Tucson and Phoenix because of some accident. There are no access roads out there and the smallest of collisions (if there is such a thing) can cause traffic to come to a complete halt because no one has any way of moving around it.
Did I mention the yellow school bus? Not my favorite mode of transportation on a busy highway either.
Several years ago while Daniel was off at youth camp I made the HUGE MISTAKE of watching a television movie about a Texas youth group that had encountered a flooded river on their way home from camp. They were riding in 15-passenger vans just like Daniel's group. I watched with horror, fixated on the TV like a deer staring into the headlights of an oncoming car, as teens clung to trees for their lives while raging waters threatened to take them under. Eventually a number of these kids did drown. True story.
What in the world was I thinking watching such a movie at such a time? Imagine the paralyzing fear I had to deal with the rest of that week!
Road trips are one of the many fear-inducing things I don't especially relish about raising kids. But I'm at that stage where you have to let go a little and trust that God is taking care of them.
In fact, I'm at that stage where, according to experts like James Dobson, I have to be letting go a little more every day. He says in the article here that real love demands freedom. "There comes a point where our record as parents is in the books, our training has been completed, and the moment of release has arrived," says Dobson. He's not just referring to letting your child get on a yellow school bus and ride down I-10; he's talking about parents of teenagers giving increasing amounts of responsibility and freedom to their growing kids so those kids will begin making wise choices on their own... hopefully. And if they don't, they fall flat on their faces, not yours.
That's where I'm at in the parenting gig - at the place where it gets riskier and riskier to let go, but I have to. It's a scary place to be, as many of you can attest.
But you may be at a totally different place in the parenting continuum and yet that place may be equally frightening for you.
Throughout parenting we have to be willing to move on in the process, to make the tough decisions, to take the unpopular but effective route, to say no, to say yes, to let go.
- Maybe it's time to put your baby on a schedule and let them "cry it out" a little if need be.
- Maybe it's time to let your child go on his first sleepover.
- Maybe it's time to discipline them for something you've been overlooking up to this point, but now you know it's time to hold them responsible for their actions.
- Maybe it's time to let your child fail at something - a school project, a test, a sports try-out, a friendship, a business venture, etc.
- Maybe it's time to send them off to college while you stay home, alone for the first time in years.
- Maybe it's time to allow your daughter to have a relationship with a boy, ever so supervised of course!
- Maybe it's time to tell them to "move out!"
It's tough to let go if fear is tightening your grip.
In fact fear keeps us from doing a lot of the things we know we're supposed to do - not just in parenting, but in every avenue of life.
The solution? According to the Bible it's twofold:
- Let God's love (His love for you, His love for your child, His love for your spouse, etc.) cast out that fear, get rid of it. 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear..." If you walk in God's love, you'll be able to do what He's calling you to do without fear of the future, fear of the what ifs, or fear of failure.
- Fear God instead of man. Galatians 1:10 and Colossians 3:22 remind us that we should be more intent on pleasing God than anyone else, even our children.
Fear is a mighty force, but it doesn't have to cripple us and keep us off the right path. We can come to terms with our fears, take them to God and allow Him to transform our fears into courage. Fear puts us on the wide path that leads to destruction. Courage places us squarely on the narrow path and gives us a gentle push in the right direction.
And that's what I want to throw out there for us to mull over this weekend.
Don't let fear tighten your grip, dear friend. Let go and trust God to bring about His desired outcome. You can trust Him and you can walk without fear.
- What fear is keeping you from doing the very thing you know you're supposed to be doing?
- What is your greatest fear in parenting and how has it at times crippled you?
- How do you overcome your fears to do what is right?