My confidence made me dream big and live large and loud. I was sixteen the first time I went to Europe. The thrill of exploring old cities with friends and meeting new people and being Jesus to those who may have never heard His name was immense.
There's another side of me -- one I buried as a teenager, that often rears its ugly head in adulthood. The same little girl who could do anything, also clung to her daddy in fear, at the bottom of Niagra Falls on the Maid of the Mist; and when looking up at the Canadian Rockies said "If I went up there, I would fall."
The two -- the explorer and the timid child have been trying to co-exist for a long time. I love the adventurer and I want to tell my fearful self to get over it. Fear can do nothing but hold me back. These days, the adventures and the worries are different in form, but they are ever present.
When I comfort a child back to sleep, I pray I would not pass on my fear -- that it would have no stronghold in our kids' lives. That they would "taste and see that the Lord is good" and that He "has not given us a spirit of fear ..." and that we can trust Him (Psalm 34:8, 2 Timothy 1:7).
As a mother it is my constant challenge to not parent out of fear and to open my children's eyes to the wonder of the world around them, but sometimes their independence and fearlessness frightens me. I am keenly aware of the worst case scenario in any given situation, but I am learning to let those thoughts work themselves out internally.
We recently discovered that Mary Elena (our baby, who is now three) loves the thrill of a rollercoaster -- high speeds and steep, sudden drops. She just barely reaches the height requirement for these rides, but once in her seat, she's all in ... all thirty-six inches of her. As we went on her favorite rides at Disneyland, she'd throw her hands in the air and laugh until the end of the ride, when she'd declare the experience "totally awesome!" The drop on Splash Mountain is over fifty feet and the speed is forty miles an hour, in a log without seatbelts, and she squealed in delight and wanted to go again. My little dare devil!
Our five year old, Nicholas, loves to swim. He's in and completely under, oblivious to the perils of the water. Up until last week, he'd only gone swimming in small groups of either close friends or family. Now that he swims, I've been less nervous about taking all four of my kids to a pool on my own, but last week we went to a party and there were few places he could touch the bottom of the pool. Even so, he was in and he was swimming -- until he wasn't. So I jumped in, fully dressed -- in one of my favorite outfits of the summer with accessories and shoes still on, surrounded only by people I don't know -- and lifted him out. When I asked him what happened he said "I just forgot to swim." As full as that pool and yard was, when he was in trouble his eyes found me, and even if they hadn't, my eyes were on him. That's what a mama does.
As I spend time with my kids, I realize that the part of me that anticipates danger is a positive thing if I direct it and use it well. That part of me remains vigilant so that my kids can have their adventures. My arms are around them as theirs let go, wildly waving in excitement; my eyes are on them when the waters overtake them, and my hands reach down to lift them up; my prayers surround them when we're apart.
In this new season of parenting when my kids are grasping for independence, it would be easy to think that the hard part of my job is over, but then I'm reminded that I am still being guided ever so gently by One I cannot see (Isaiah 40:11). And His eyes, His mind and His heart are on me and for me; That He created a world of places and ideas for adventuring and He wants us to taste and see that He is good.
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
In the fear, in the adventure, He is there.
I am excited to write with an amazing and diverse group of women this year. Read what Susan has to say about adventure unlimited, and then click through the rest of the blogs.