Her head thrashed from side to side, as she tried to anticipate the monster’s assault.
Eyes welling, she was on the verge of really cutting loose when my husband batted his hand against the glass, where the “monster” was reaching out its tentacles, and laughed.
“Silly!” he said. “That’s so silly!”
He did this over and over again: as the water sprayed and foam splattered, as the gigantic mop head dragged across the top of the vehicle like a mutant spider, as the dryer howled.
Our toddler smiled, though tears stilled pooled in her eyes.
She extended her dimpled hand toward the glass and laughed. She started saying, “Silly! Silly!”
The irrational fear had lost its power and, watching her, I saw a picture of myself.
I am especially susceptible to irrational fear after the birth of a child. My newborn looks at our world through such unsullied eyes, and I want to keep her and her older sister from being exposed to pain.
Hence, this week’s far-from-silly headlines—Ebola, ISIS, deleterious strains of flu—have caused me to thrash from side to side, trying to anticipate our world’s next monstrous assault.
Determined to conquer fear, as I do not want my children to learn from my example, I traced the tentacles back to their root and realized that my fear comes from lack of control over death.
I want to know my children will live long enough to grow old. I want to know they will die happy and warm, with their own children, and their children’s children, holding hands around their beds.
And yet I cannot know this.
And it’s the “not knowing” that makes me feel so desperate. That causes me to scan headlines and read articles and scour grocery carts with sanitizing wipes and glower at people who dare cough within a hundred feet of my newborn child.
“I didn’t dwell on it,” she said, using a freckled finger as a placeholder in her book. “Fear did nothing to increase my quality of life.”
She was in the midst of reading C.S. Lewis’ autobiography, and she reminded me of everything he had gone through in his life: losing his mother to cancer when he was a young boy, marrying in middle age only to lose his wife, Joy, to the same dreaded disease.
Without facing hardships, C.S. Lewis wouldn’t have been a writer of such range and depth. Without having faced hardships of her own, my best friend wouldn’t be able to counsel me about life.
Therefore, if my children live lives exempt of hardship like this mama heart wishes, they will not have the same depth of character as those who have walked rockier paths.
So I must trust God to give me wisdom to raise these beautiful daughters of mine into women who do not fear the unknown, but embrace life . . . regardless if it’s a journey of hardship or ease.
Have you ever struggled with fear? How did you overcome it?