Is your parenting perspective based on fear or faith?
When I finally had my first child at the age of 37, I was elated. I'd wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl, but I'd never understood how much love I could feel for someone I didn't even know. The rush of love for her, totally unearned, was like nothing I'd ever experienced. I could barely stand to put her down for those first few weeks. My parenting perspective at that point was totally consumed with awe, not particularly faith or fear.
One day, as I laid her in her crib during nap time, all that love came crashing in around me. Thoughts of every bad thing the world could do rushed in like tiny glass daggers aimed at her fragile body. Germs were everywhere. She was vulnerable to everything from kidnapping to SIDS. I could never leave the house with her again. I had to scour every possible surface with bleach and not let anything touch us. Except, bleach might hurt her too. What if I hurt her while trying to protect her? For a moment, time seemed to stand still. I realized I could never live that way, but how could I ever forget the danger I'd just seen? Back in real time, I sunk to my knees in front of her bed and cried out to Jesus. Help!
In my spirit, I felt Jesus enter that room, full of peace, and kneel down beside me. He looked at me with compassion and tenderly said, "You cannot parent from a place of fear. Yes, there are dangers all around. She will get sick, and she will get hurt. She's vulnerable, and that's all part of life. Excessive fear will rob you of joy, and it's a liar. Change your parenting perspective to one of faith, not fear."
So, with great relief, I did. The dagger-like thoughts that seemed to have frozen in mid-air all around us faded away. I stood up, took a deep breath, and went to do some dishes. Parenting perspective, changed to faith, not fear. Now, it's an everyday task to remember that commitment.
In the ten years since then, I've realized that my fears came honestly. I have vivid childhood memories of praying earnestly for God to heal a premature baby in the NICU. She didn't make it, and the tiny casket at the funeral undid my little heart. Among other losses seared into my memory, my dad's best friend and his son, my dear friend, died in a horrible plane crash when I was 11.
I didn't talk to anyone about my emotions surrounding these things. I don't remember ever bringing it up in counseling. Why would I? They weren't MY family. But they were our church family, as close as anyone to us, and they were gone. When I realized how my unhealed hurt affected my children, clouding their lives with fear, I did some hard work to heal.
God showed me how the parenting perspective of fear, not faith, gives us a false sense of control, telling us that the only way we can protect our children is to keep them safely in our arms. In fact, both of the children in the examples above went to heaven while under the direct supervision of their parents. That knowledge challenges my assumption that if my children are with me, they are safe. As much as I'd like to provide complete safety, life doesn't always work like that.
In order to control our thoughts, we can bring our fears to the Lord in prayer. We can fill our minds with worship music, sermons, and Scripture reading, which help keep our focus on God. If you have memories that have hurt you deeply, I invite you to work through those emotions and heal for the sake of your family. There's nothing shameful about going to an anointed healer for help. One of my anointed healers was a woman who happens to be a licensed EMDR therapist. My gratitude for her is unending.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:15-16
The gift of parenting well is as much an offering to the Lord as anything else we do. We offer our efforts to God, knowing that He can multiply it many times over, allowing us to steward well the days that have been ordained for us to parent these precious gifts.
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:6-7
Ask God for help to trust Him and change your parenting perspective. Trust God to protect all that concerns you. Children are on loan from Him for a little while. It's our job to carefully guard what has been entrusted to us. This message isn't an excuse to be irresponsible, for the Lord sees the heart. We must do our absolute best to raise them well. We must protect them from obvious dangers and stupidity. And most of all, we must PRAY. God will give guidance and shift each parenting perspective to faith, not fear, when our eyes on Him.