Fear, a Four-Year Old, and Fatherhood (H, T)
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Okay, I admit it – the verses typed above are GREAT verses…but I rarely obey them. What I mean is, I cave to fear almost all the time. When I do, it affects everything in and around my life. My thoughts. My behavior. My responses. My willingness to take initiative. My leadership. On and on. I love the verses. I claim the verses. I believe the verses…or do I?
This morning, me and Seth (my 4 year old son) had a ‘man to man’ conversation after we dropped Luke off at 1st grade. Seth, who is in Wee School here at WBC told us (Katie and I) yesterday that he didn’t play during recess (or whatever they call it), but stood by his teacher because he was too tired. Red flag! Seth never gets too tired to play. This meant he either had a deadly disease and we needed to get him to the emergency room immediately, or something else was going on. He seemed rather healthy (he played at home all afternoon), so we determined something else caused him to stand by his teacher during playtime. Come to find out there is another boy in another class who apparently ‘makes fun’ of Seth. So, instead of risk being made fun of…Seth chose to stand by his teacher at recess.
I will spare you the details of our ‘man to man’ conversation (by the way, any parental help anyone would like to suggest would be appreciated and helpful!), but here’s the thing that struck me while I talked with him: He told me that he was just going to go stand by his teacher while everyone played again today. That broke my heart! Not just because he was scared, but because I knew that in reality there was nothing to be afraid of and that if he didn’t face it head on, he would spend much of what is intended for joy and fun in panic and fear. Fear over something that was never going to really materialize, in other words, would paralyze him from enjoying his life. I know his teacher would take care of him. I know other teachers would take care of him. I know the Wee School Director would take care of him. I know that my office is about 40 yards from where he is…so I would take care of him. He wasn’t going to get hurt, nor would it be allowed for continued ridicule. I knew that, so it was easy for me to tell him he didn’t have to be afraid. But he didn’t believe it.
As of yet, I haven’t convinced him that everything is going to be okay for him. So, unless he miraculously takes some of my advice, he will spend another day watching everyone else enjoy playtime while he stands in fear by his teacher (he made me promise, by the way, not to tell his teacher). I long for him to believe me so he won’t waste his life fearing something that just isn’t going to happen. If he would only trust me…I’m his father, I know these things for crying out loud…I will make sure he is taken care of…he could enjoy his life (or playtime!) if he would just choose to trust me.
Do you hear yourself, Matt?
“Be not frightened. . . for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
“Fear not…for I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”