My favorite word is FREE. I love it. I love to say it. I love to see it. I love to experience it. I don't know how universal that is. I think it's pretty universal. For those of us that carry around a lot of fear, I think it's pretty universal. We want to be free. To look at something dangerous (and often it's only something a teenie-weenie bit dangerous) and to not be afraid of it - that's freeing. To stare down the unknown with a twinkle of daring in my eye instead of gaping at it with terror - that is what I long for.
And it's what I long to see in my children.
And when I do, I get chills. It thrills me to the bone. It ignites a bonfire of joy in my heart. And when it's not there, I get angry. I want to take fear by the shoulders and shake it out of me, out of my children. I want to rid myself of it the way I rid my house of mosquitos. Get out! Get out! Even if I destroy the lampshade in the process!
This week Dave Dave decided he was terrified of water. If he wasn't touching the ground he was having nothing of it. Oh how it frustrated me. But there was nothing I could do or say to free him from it. In fact, for the sake of my sanity and our relationship, I had to let fear with the round.
Anna Rose, on the other hand, has lost her fear of water. What a thrill! But she had her moments too. For instance, when we took a boat ride and she screamed bloody terror because she was certain the boat was going to flip. I said, "Listen Anna Rose, this boat has never flipped over and it will definitely not flip over today. But say, just pretending, it did flip over today - what's the worst thing that could happen?" "We'd fall into the water," she screamed. "But you love the water!" I said." And you know what she did - she just screamed at me for not understanding! You can't out logic fear. That's what that conversation taught me.
In fact, and I've been pondering this for a couple weeks now, I think there are only two ways to free ourselves and our children from fear. The first is prayer. The second is role modeling. When it comes down to it, my fear rubs off on my children. Sometimes it rubs off directly, i.e. if I'm afraid of wasps, there is a chance my child will be afraid of wasps as well. But it doesn't always correspondingly translate. My fear of my uncertain future at work, may look like a fear of shadows in my children. (In a way, fear of the future is just fear of shadows, isn't it?)
All that to say: If I want my children to be free from fear - I need to demonstrate a life free of fear. I wish there was an easier antidote - and for many of us who do not have great role models in this area - we may need to buck up and face those fears whether we have been shown how to or not. (My dad, I should note, especially on this Father's Day, was a great role model at fear facing - thanks dad.)
It's for this very reason I'm a Christian. As Paul told the Galatians: "It's for freedom that Christ has set us free." Which is only another way of saying what Jesus once told his disciples: "If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed." So be free my friends. It's my wish for you.