My husband is a pediatrician, and it seems that over this weekend we've seen a number of accidents involving children and ATVs. No deaths (though there was one a few weeks ago near where I live), and Keith himself hasn't treated them. He's just heard through the grapevine.
It only takes a second for something really bad to happen. Maybe it comes from already having had a child die, but I often look at my girls when we're all laughing together, and I say to myself, "I am going to bottle this up." The truth is you just never know what's around the corner.
Even if we eliminate as much risk as possible, though, you never can be sure. And that's what's so hard as a parent. Are you going to live your life petrified that something could happen, and so become overprotective, or are we going to release our kids, confident that no matter what happens we're all in God's hands?
That's a really hard point to get to. I've had several experiences in my life where I had to come face to face with God and realize that He is my foundation, and not my husband, not my kids, not anything else. It's an awfully uncomfortable feeling, because for some reason we often think that as soon as we do surrender everything to God, and say to Him, "You are enough," that He's going to swoop down and steal everything that matters to us.
Nothing could be sillier. Do we think our kids are safe as long as we don't surrender them to God? And yet that process of handing our kids to Him is such an emotional one, because we are so wrapped up in them. How could we possibly separate from them?
It's not that I think anything actually will happen to my kids. And sometimes I get this cold chill run up my spine when I wonder what I would do if... But the truth is that if that day did come, I know God would carry me through it, because He carried me through before. But since that day is not here yet, I would rather live in the here and now and enjoy my kids, instead of worrying about all the things that I might one day have to deal with! If we can get to that point of trusting God, it is much easier to cope with today.
I've written a couple of articles about this. You can read one here. Here's how another one begins:
A little girl disappears without a trace. A three-year-old drowns when he wanders off from a family reunion. Hardly a day passes without hearing horrors like these, making you shiver as the unthinkable flashes through your mind.
Becoming a parent is not as simple as entering other stages in your life. It's more like being engulfed by a violent tornado and flung into the land of Oz. Everything is foreign and frightening. Once you're a parent, the world, instead of being full of possibilities, offers unlimited dangers.
For the most part this is instinctual. God wired us to be fiercely protective of our children to ensure we would care for them. Why else would we endure people who cry incessantly and throw up repeatedly? Last year as my daughters and I were emptying one of our compost bins, I inadvertently hit a mouse's nest with my shovel. As five pink babies fell to the ground, their screeching mother bravely darted in and out of the bin to rescue each one. She needn't have bothered; I was far too queasy to kill either her or her squirming offspring. But it was a vivid example of how mothers will sacrifice themselves for their children. As soon as we become parents, we instinctively wrap our arms around our kids and hold on tightly so nothing bad will happen.
The problem, of course, is that no matter how hard we try, we can't protect our kids from everything. And when we do try, we may have the opposite effect: we may raise immature children who make poor decisions. Obviously this is not our intention. Yet it's easy to fall into this trap if we let our fears for our children take our eyes off of God.
But let me say this first: I used to pray constantly for my kids' safety. All my prayers went like this: "Dear God, don't let anything happen to them. Put angels around them. Protect them. Etc. Etc."
Then Columbine happened, and I heard the story of Cassie Bernall saying "yes" when the gunmen asked her if she believed in God. And I realized that's what I would want my children to do, too. There was something I wanted even more than safety.
I started weeping as soon as I thought of that, because it felt like they were already dying. And yet that realization started to free me. I had to focus not only on their physical safety, but even more importantly, their spiritual growth.
What about you? Is this something you struggle with? Are you scared to trust God with your kids? Tell me about it in the comments!
My talk, "Do You Believe God Loves You?", focuses on why it's so hard to surrender things to God. You can puchase the CD or the download here.
About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.