Fear Not-Protecting My Kids
“Parents, we can do this. We can take our parenting fears to Christ. In fact, if we don’t, we’ll take our fears out on our kids.”
By Max Lucado
No one told me that newborns make nighttime noises. All night long. They gurgle; they pant. They whimper; they whine. They smack their lips and sigh. They keep Daddy awake. At least Jenna kept me awake. I wanted Denalyn to sleep. Thanks to a medication mix-up, her post-C section rest was scant. So for our first night home with our first child, I volunteered to serve as first responder. We wrapped our eight pounds and four ounces of beauty in a soft pink blanket, placed her in the bassinet, and set it next to my side of the bed. Denalyn fell quickly into a sound slumber. Jenna followed her mom’s example. And Dad? This dad didn’t know what to make of the baby’s noises.
When Jenna’s breathing slowed, I leaned my ear onto her mouth to see if she was alive. When her breathing hurried, I looked up “infant hyperventilation” in the family medical encyclopedia. When she burped and panted, so did I. After a couple of hours I realized, I have no clue how to behave! I lifted Jenna out of her bed, carried her into the living room of our apartment, and sat in a rocker. That’s when a tsunami of sobriety washed over me.
“We’re in charge of a human being.”
I don’t care how tough you are. You may be a Navy SEAL who specializes in high-altitude skydiving behind enemy lines. You might spend each day making million-dollar, split-second, stock market decisions. Doesn’t matter. Every parent melts the moment he or she feels the full force of parenthood.
How did I get myself into this? I retraced my steps. First came love, then came marriage, then the discussions of a baby carriage. Of course I was open to the idea. Especially when I considered my role in launching the effort. Somehow during the nine-month expansion project, the reality of fatherhood didn’t dawn on me. Women are nodding and smiling. “Never underestimate the density of a man.” you say. True. But moms have an advantage; thirty-six weeks of reminders elbowing around inside them. Our kick in the gut comes later. For me it came in the midnight quiet of an apartment living room in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as I held a human being in my arms.
The semi-truck of parenting comes loaded with fears. We fear failing the child, forgetting the child. Will we have enough money? Enough answers? Enough diapers? Enough drawer space? Vaccinations. Educations. Homework. Homecoming. It’s enough to keep a parent awake at night.
I will someday ask God, “Why were you so good to my daughters and me?” and he will answer by pointing to Denalyn. “She just kept talking about you and your kids.” Denalyn takes regular prayer walks though our house, stepping into each bedroom and living area. She pauses to pray for her daughter and husband. She takes full advantage of the invitation of Lamentations 2:19: “Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.”
Handling Parenting Fears
Parents, we can do this. We can take our parenting fears to Christ. In fact, if we don’t, we’ll take our fears out on our kids. Fear turns some parents into paranoid prison guards who monitor every minute, check the background of every friend. They stifle growth and communicate distrust. A family with no breathing room suffocates a child.
On the other hand, fear can also create permissive parents. For fear that their child will feel too confined or fenced in, they lower all boundaries. High on hugs and low on discipline. They don’t realize that appropriate discipline is an expression of love. Permissive parents. Paranoid parents. How can we avoid the extremes? We pray.
Prayer is the saucer into which parental fears are poured to cool. Jesus says so little about parenting, making no comments about spanking, breast-feeding, sibling rivalry, or schooling. Yet his actions speak volumes about prayer. Each time a parent prays, Christ responds. His big message to moms and dads? Bring your children to me. Raise them in a greenhouse of prayer.
When you send them off for the day, do so with a blessing. When you tell them good night, cover them in prayer. Is your daughter stumped by geography homework? Pray with her about it. Is your son intimidated by a new girl? Pray with him about her. Pray that your children have a profound sense of place in this world and a heavenly place in the next.
Accepting Parenting Fears
Parents, we can’t protect children from every threat in life, but we can take them to the Source of life. We can entrust our kids to Christ. Even then, however, our shoreline appeals may be followed by difficult choice.
The hard reality of parenting reads something like this: You can protect, pray, and keep all the bogeymen at bay and still find yourself in the ER at midnight or a drug rehab clinic on visitors’ Sunday, choosing between two voices: despair and belief.
God has a heart for hurting parents. Should we be surprised? After all, God himself is a father. What parental emotions has He not felt? Are you separated from your child? So was God. Is someone mistreating your children? They mocked and bullied His. Is someone taking advantage of your children? The Son of God was set up by false testimony and betrayed by a greedy follower. Are you forced to watch while your child suffers? God watched His Son on the cross. Do you find yourself wanting to spare your child from all the hurt in the world? God did. But because of His great love for us, “He did not spare His own Son but gave Him for us all. So with Jesus, God will surely give us all things.” Romans 8:32 NCV
“All things” must include courage and hope.
Late that night a quarter century ago, I gave my daughter to God. As I rocked her in our just-bought rocker, I remembered the way Abraham had placed Isaac on the altar, and I decided to do the same. So following the centenarian’s example, I made our apartment living room Moriah and lifted my daughter toward heaven. I can’t raise this girl, I confessed, but you can. I give her back to you. Must have been a sight to behold, a pajama-clad father lifting his blanket-wrapped baby toward the ceiling. But something tells me that a few parents appreciated the gesture. Among them, Abraham, Jairus, and of course, God.
This excerpt was taken from Max Lucado’s book Fearless.