Faith, life, Parenting, relationships, Spiritual Encouragement, Uncategorized
Comments 5

Fear, Failure, Faith, Google Search and Bear Poop

DSC00118



Parenting without fear is a myth, or is it?

If I’m going to be perfectly honest, and I should be since this is my blog, I have been afraid for over 21 years.

IMG_5254Fear became a constant companion since before my first child was born. Losing our very first pregnancy saw to that. So, while carrying Isabella, our oldest, my dreams were plagued with all sorts of wild nightmares and far-fetched fears, even if I did try to appear to be a normal person in the daytime. I was so afraid that I couldn’t really carry a baby to term.

Then I was afraid to actually give birth.

The following are some things we mom’s fear (can I get an Amen?):

I was afraid that the baby wouldn’t come out with all her parts in all the right places. I was afraid she’d be too small or worse, too big; that labor won’t go well, that she wouldn’t latch on or breastfeed well. That I wouldn’t make enough milk; that she’d cry too little—or too much—and that I might not have enough love.

What if I’m a bad mom?

IMG_4837

The baby is born! Then we’re afraid of, well, everything.

We’re afraid of germs and of weird poop in their diapers, we’re afraid of choking hazards and the accidental ingestion of baby oil, we’re afraid of them drowning in their spit-up. We’re afraid gas pains might cause them to stop breathing, we’re afraid of dropping them or forgetting them, or pulling their little arms out of their shoulder joints.

And that’s just in the first month.

We’re afraid of high places and deep holes, of judgmental looks and slow development. We’re afraid of laying them on their backs and on their tummies. We’re afraid of letting them cry because it might cause deep, long-term psychological damage. We’re afraid of them not walking, we’re afraid of them walking.

We’re afraid they aren’t learning how to talk.

Then we’re afraid of what they might say about the lady in the grocery store line. We’re afraid of bullies and kindergarten and broken bones.

We’re afraid they won’t have friends, we’re afraid they won’t make the team, we’re afraid they won’t learn how to read with the rest of the class.

Seriously, how we parents live with this fear is a startling testimony to the emotional capacity of the human soul. It’s enough to make me crawl beneath the covers with a bag of chocolate chips, a bottle of wine and Google Search. AMIRIGHT?

 

Speaking of Google, here’s some things I’ve actually searched:

<why are my kid’s toenails falling off?>

<strange bump on toddler penis>

<is my daughter a mean girl?>

<video gaming and frontal lobe brain damage in teen boys>

<chore charts do they work>

<is bedtime necessary>

<what is spice, urban dictionary, drug>

<how long can a child go without pooping>

That’s just a sampling of the questions I’ve had over the past two decades. It’s pathetic, really.

All this leads me to the conclusion that if anyone ever insists that they’ve made this or that decision for their child and they did not make it out of a place of fear, I will know they are just as big a ‘fraidy-pants liar as I am.

DSC01516Because parenting is scary as heck and no book, magazine, support group, forum, blog or supernanny can fully prepare us for the future of all things terrifying. And at the hub of all that reckless, spinning horror is this fear: I will fail them.

 

These bad things might not ALL happen, but if any of them do, it will certainly be ALL MY FAULT.

So we read books and follow parenting gurus, we join Facebook groups and play groups, we plan their education and try so hard. We land in bed at night exhausted from striving. We hide in the bathroom and cry. One mom told me years ago, “If I die, my tombstone should read: Here lies Becky, she tried so hard she died.” She meant it. She said it with all the heavy heartedness of a weary, wounded, weaponless warrior.

Because we live in the information age, we read stuff online and realize there is SO MUCH MORE TO FEAR! We learn about labels like “helicopter” and “drill sergeant” parents. We take online quizzes. We alternately check out into Camp Denial then overcompensate, overcommit, over-volunteer, over-discipline and overreact. There’s a lot of overdoing going on.

And don’t even get me started about the adolescent years. Here we are quite possibly ruining our kids six ways from Sunday and then ages 11-21 dish up more opportunities for epic failure than China makes dim sum.

And then they grow up. They move out and get jobs and the worst thing of all: they start driving. There’s no stopping the deluge of terrifying possibilities. We try to be chill, but the fear is always there. The struggle to remain calm is all too real.

My oldest, who is now officially grown and living on her own, going to college and working, recently went on an overnight hike in the Idaho forest with her friends. All girls.

Ok, I’m listening and nodding, and attempting to look like this is a perfectly reasonable thing for my darling baby girl to do. We’re eating dinner and I’m reminding myself to chew before I swallow.

Then she says this, “So on our hike in—it was about six miles—we saw bear poop and prints! We made a whole bunch of noise to scare them off, but really, I was pretty scared all night. It was rainy and windy and every noise I heard I thought, ‘bear!’”

Ok, the last part of that I made up because I could register nothing after “we saw bear poop”. Inside I was climbing the walls, screaming and crying and trying to breathe.

How am I supposed to stay cool?

“Don’t tell me anymore,” I try to smile as I choke down a bite of pasta.

“Geez, mom,” she scolds, “You can’t let that get to you….Does it really bother you?”

DOES A BEAR FREAKIN POOP IN THE WOODS?

IMG_5207

 

I am a fear-ball. On the outside I look like a normal person (maybe) but inside I am a churning, roiling, boiling ball of fear.

That’s the truth. I don’t think I’m alone. If you have a kid, you are, too.

Google and wine and chocolate chips and parenting articles and blog posts don’t help me keep from turning into a fear-ball.

There has to be a starting point, a place to stand upon, no matter how small, where we are free from fear’s control over us.

Besides hiding in the bathroom, or in my car in the driveway (these don’t really work…), I go over and over and over again to my Bible.

God’s word talks a lot about fear, anxiety, timidity, and worry. The Bible is one big collection of stories where God basically says, “If I’ve said it once I’ve said it 300 times, you don’t need to live in fear because I am near. Just breathe honey and repeat after me: God Is With Me.”

We know the drill. Fear not, be anxious for nothing, you’ve been given a spirit not of timidity, but of courage, take courage, be strong, fight the good fight, perfect love casts out fear. (Any quick Google search will give you a list of verses on fear and courage and faith.)

 But how do we get that inside us? How do we let that “peace of God that transcends all understanding” push past the tidal wave of fear to actually guard our hearts in Christ Jesus?

By going to the Bible again and again. There we read about Gideon, Deborah, and Abigail. We read about Stephen and Timothy and Mary and Joseph. We read about the women at the tomb and Lydia and Onesimus. We follow Paul and Peter and Barnabas. We glimpse into eternity with John. We see the grand story of God’s faithfulness told in the smaller stories, the personal stories. The fear stories.

God says Fear Not so many times because this world is a crazy bad place and fear is perfectly normal. The Bible teaches me that rather than frenetically bouncing between fear and faith, I can live at peace in the balance of tension between fear and faith.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” {Hebrews 11:1}

So fear could be the “insecurity of what we worry about and the terror of what we do not see.”

“Do not fear” is God’s phrase for reminding us that he can see every possibility and he’s got it. Faith is a viable option.

What I’ve learned about fear is this: All fear is rooted to our failure.

Our failure began, according to the Bible, the moment that sin entered the world way back in the Garden of Eden. There, Adam and Eve made the fatal error of not trusting God and they disobeyed him. Sin is often defined as “missing the mark”, just coming short of making the target. What is that but failure?

So I have this idea that my persistent fear is connected to failure is connected to my sinful condition.

God wants to redeem this fear and my enemy, Satan, wants to exploit it.

God wants to show me the way to freedom and salvation, while my enemy, Satan, wants to hedge me in to a place of paralyzing fear.

God uses my fear to draw me to him, invites me into his strength, peace, and holiness, while my enemy wants to isolate and terrorize me.

 

It comes down to one question: Who is for me and who is against me?

There is this tension, this beautiful balance of recognizing that my fear is a red-flag indicator of my fallen state—but it’s going to be okay because my savior is always pulling me out of the waves of What-If.

When the disciple, blustery out-spoken Peter, stepped from the boat and walked upon the stormy sea water, he only sunk because he took his eyes off of the God of the storm, Jesus. Yet even when he did look at the scary storm around him, Jesus, reached down and pulled him up. He didn’t let him sink to his death. {Matthew 14}

DSC01532

Fear is real. Parenting is a minefield. Jesus never leaves. So whether you’re a mommy or not, I want to encourage you to look to the word again and again, not just for comfort, but for the God who understands that fear comes with human territory and offers us courage, and that courage is trusting in him, working out our fears in everyday living with his strength.

God doesn’t condemn us for having fears. Bad things happen. We don’t know all the reasons why. We may even question his goodness. But I can say this: although most of my worst-case scenarios haven’t come to pass, a few have. Scary and bad things have happened, but I still belong to God. My position as his child remains secure and some of the most beautiful, purposeful seasons in my life have been in the real-time living of my fears and failures. Those times that I say “Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief“.

Fear not, for I am with you.

He really is.

Advertisements

5 Comments

  1. Niki Anderson says

    Great blog, Alyssa! One December before choosing my verse for the coming year, God told me I was fearful and led me to Isaiah 43:13 (“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you’.”) as my theme for the next 12 months. At first I thought, “No, I’m not a fear-wrought kind of person.” But I chose to believe God’s accurate knowledge about me, and for all that year he showed me every vestige of fear that stalked me. In the acknowledgment and revelation of all those subtle and not-so-subtle fears, He freed me from their bondage. It was a great year!

    • God did a deep work on me in 2001-2 regarding my fear. Like you, I point to that season and recognize it as a time where He lovingly, persistently kept instructing my heart.

  2. I have been dealing with a lot of fear lately. In my devotions this morning, which were a bit rushed because my 2 year old got up when I did, I managed to get from my devotional reading that fear is dark unbelief. Unbelief that God cannot or will not care for us. He took care of Elijah and He takes care of the sparrows. Why not us?

    • It is a dark place, to be sure. When I was gripped in fear (I wrote about that in an earlier post “Kill the Madwoman”) it was like I was enveloped in an internal darkness. I had to learn to confess my proclivity/addiction/tendency to fear as sin, then I was free — not from ever having fears, but from being controlled by them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s