This morning I woke up to the sound of my son coming in to my room, hugging me and saying, "I am so glad you are alive mama. I am so glad you are alive!"
I looked at him and said, "Oh honey, of course I am alive. Is everything OK?"
That's when Big told me that last night they woke up to gun shots ringing in the front yard. They ran out to get Paul, thinking we were being attacked. Paul had already flipped the light switches off and was ducking down to see a group of teenagers breaking off in pairs from our front yard after shooting a couple rounds off into black sky. They clung to their dad hoping he could make it better. After calling the police, he tucked the kids back into bed and sang over them.
This morning, their fear for me and for them was all they could talk about. I was writing at the coffee shop like I do every Tuesday night. I wasn't home, and so in their young minds, I was at risk out there with the bad guys. They were out there and I was out there, not safely at home.
As each of my kids came into my room this morning, all hugging me tight, thankful for my safety, my heart physically hurt for how to help them navigate through this. I wasn't sure how to do that.
I can't give them promises that I will always be there for them. Because I won't.
I can't tell them that nothing bad will happen to me. Because I don't know.
So what can I give them?
First off, this is not a story of living in the hood. This story isn't shared to get you to feel bad for us. It's not a story to gain attention or have some weird twisted story to brag about. This story speaks to what we do with the fear our children have. All kids have a fear of something. Fear of fitting in. Fear of being embarrased. Fear of talking to strangers. Fear their parents will split up. Fear there is something wrong with them. So the question then is, what do you do with that fear?
Second, as parents, I think it is very tempting to use our status in our children's lives to turn into the ultimate power. If you have a wound, I will make it better. If someone hurt you, I will go take care of it. If you have a need, I will fill it. It is nice to be needed and have someone rely on you. To be the hero. The one who saves the day.
But in the end, what good does it do to have our children put all of their trust in us? In a human being who will fall short, mess up and disappoint them?
Paul and I have as much as possible, whenever possible, try to point our children to the one who will not fail them. To the one who will ultimately heal and help them. It is our goal as parents to teach our kids to reach out to God in times of trouble, pain and joy. This is not without trying our hardest to be there for our children, to help whenever it is right. But we can't desire to be their ultimate power in life.
So each morning, we try, at breakfast to institute, "Feed your body, feed your soul." This is a time where we read a few verses in the morning to make sure that the word of God is in our children's hearts. Lately, we have been reading through the proverbs. But this morning I knew it was different and we would need a different kind of comfort and healing. So we read Romans 8:31+
"What then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
In reading this, it also brought to mind the verse that says, "perfect love drives out fear" which I think is 1 John.
God's love can drive out our fear and demons and insecurities.
I wanted my kids to walk away not living in fear. Not overcome with worry about who might get shot and killed in our yard. We are still trying to convince them that we won't die every time a thunderstorm hits in the middle of the night. Two years later, Big and Little will still crawl into our bed trembling that we will die when the thunder hits waking them up in the darkness of night.
It is my belief that fear, left in our heart will create a foothold for Satan to tear us down and keep us from thriving in life. When a small amount fear or doubt is left in your heart, the only thing it has the power to do is grow. It gains strength every time we experience something that reminds us of that fear. Then eventually, it will keep us fearful and unable to take chances, to trust, and to love.
So in this round about way, as parents, and just as people ourselves, the way to not live in fear is to cling to the one who has the power enough to love us out of the fearful place. To admit that fear. Surrender it. Lay it down. Give it over. Try to learn to trust a little bit more every day.
This morning we prayed after reading scripture together. We prayed that we could rest in God's love. We prayed that Satan wouldn't have a hold on our hearts in the fear we have about how scary the guns were. We prayed that God could create trust in our hearts. We prayed that his words we read would strengthen our faith and allow us live in HOPE that God, no matter what, will work all things to his glory.
We don't know what that means exactly. We don't really know what that looks like. I do know though that I could tell a difference in their smiles this morning. I am hoping that teaching them to give over their fear and worry and weakness, that they will start to cling on their own to a relationship with Christ.
He is much better savior than me.
And in the end, I have lived most of my life in fear. I would like to find a way to help my children live in love and courage by showing them how to surrender over the fear.