I’ve never thought of myself as fearful. I enjoy a good adventure. I’m a certified scuba diver, I’ve bungee jumped several times, I have made over ninety skydives, and I’ve traveled to Africa. I’ve really never been much of a worrier. I think I tend to take the path of least resistance and since worrying takes a great deal of mental energy, I’ve just tended not to do it and sometimes get annoyed with people who fret over every little thing. I’ve always thought that my carefree existence was because I have a strong faith. Sure, I’ve been through difficult times, but God has always seen me through to His best plan for me.
So why did my internal “freakout alarm clock” go off this week when my son was given the opportunity to go on a fall retreat with third through fifth graders from our church? Instead of being excited for him, my mind was filled with mental pictures of every possible thing that could go wrong and a million excuses of why he shouldn’t go. Plus I was sad that he would get to experience some very fun “firsts” and I wouldn’t be there to share them with him. K’s out-of-town and I have some other commitments so I couldn’t go along to chaperone. Several of my friends are going as leaders and they’ve promised they’d watch out for him, but I want to be the one to be with him.
How did he get old enough to go to a spend away retreat away from his mom, for crying out loud? When did this happen and who let it?
The retreat center sounds like so much fun. They have hiking trails, and a zip line, and horses. Good grief, this sounds like a dangerous place! What am I thinking let him do this? What if he gets hurt? What if he gets homesick? He’s still my little boy who needs to sleep with his Kitty.
My friends have been laughing at my apprehension this week and I’ve wondered where all this angst is coming from. And then last night on the way to the mandatory parents’ meeting everything became clear. I think I’m more fearful about everything right now because after several months of having my life turned upside down and inside out, I’ve realized how very vulnerable I am. Even though I knew that difficult times were always a possibility, and even though I’ve had bad times, I’ve never had to deal with as many scary monsters as I’ve had to face this past year. My security has been shaken to its core and I’ve learned that what I thought was faith in God may partly have been faith that God wasn’t going to demand too much from me. But now it feels like all bets are off. I see now that God can love me and still allow me to experience loss and pain beyond what I’ve ever imagined. And so when I think about sending this goofy little face away from my line of sight, I feel afraid.Tonight I was thinking about those first nights as a new mom. I would watch him sleep in his bassinet beside my bed. I would watch for the rise and fall of his little chest and would sometimes hold my fingers close to his nose and mouth just to make sure he was still breathing. I felt like if I took my eyes off of him for just one second, something terrible could happen. The weight of bearing the responsibility of another life was overwhelming at times. But I was so very tired. I remember praying, “Dear God, I need to close my eyes. Please watch Him for me and make sure that He keeps breathing so I can sleep for just a few minutes.” As if my wakefulness caused the air to go in and out of his little lungs! Before too long, I was able to relax and realize that these little people don’t belong to me. They are just gifts God’s let me love for a little while.
I think I’m beginning to understand why God put so many “Fear not” verses in the Bible. This world is a scary, scary place. If I let my thoughts wander too far these days, the fear could take my breath away. In the middle of my hyperventilations, I hear Him whisper, “Fear not, Amy” (I’m not sure if He calls me Whimzie or not). Don’t be afraid. Cast all your cares on Me, because I care for you.”
So tonight, once again, I resign as the Keeper and Controller of the Universe. I recognize that I never really was in control anyway and I rest in the knowledge that I do not have to be afraid, because God is with me. And he will be with my blessing of a baby boy this weekend and with my precious daddy and my wonderful mama and my sweet brother and my incredible husband and my amazing daughter and her unbelievable twin brother…and with you, sitting there at your computer. I don’t know what’s scaring you right now, but I know there’s a “Fear not” with your name on it. No matter what happens to us, He will see us through it. Believe and be brave.