I write a lot about raising kids. I spend a great deal of time doing that. This last weekend I sat with my oldest child at a college where he has been accepted to continue his education next fall. I wondered how in the heck we had gotten that far already. Wasn’t it just last year we were packing him off to kindergarten with his new backpack full of brand new crayons, pencils, paper, and safety scissors?
Since that day I have lost count of how many safety scissors I have purchased for my four kids. I probably continued to buy those round-ended scissors for them much longer than was necessary. But I wanted them to be safe. I didn’t want them to get hurt. I still don’t.
I don’t want to risk them getting hurt emotionally or physically. I worry that they will make a choice that can negatively impact them for the rest of their lives. I worry about cyber predators that stalk unsuspecting young people. I don’t want my kids to be unsuspecting. I want to protect their hearts and minds from the evils of this world. Ultimately that’s it.
For when I boil it all down, the things I want to protect my children from are things that are truly not of this world.
The Bible teaches that we do not fight against the evils of this world, but against powers and principalities we cannot even see or hope to defeat on our own. It’s a wonder I ever sleep at night. Not only do I have those seen and imagined dangers to worry about, the real battle is with unseen foes. Terrific. It’s probably a really good thing that they are unseen. If you’ve ever read a Frank Peretti novel you might get just a visual taste of what we are up against. (Frank is quite descriptive)
If I thought seeing my two oldest boys grow up and out from under was tough, I was ill prepared for what was to come with my daughter. For some reason, the risks seem greater, the dangers more…. dangerous for her. As she turns thirteen and insists on growing up, I may have to resort to medication. For her dad.
I suppose every father (or all the great ones) look through princess glasses when they look at their daughters. No matter how tall, mature, or developed (sheesh) a girl becomes, her dad sees that little girl in the princess costume that once sat in his lap and adored him. Great fathers have great love for their sons, but they cherish their daughters.
As parents we can choose to walk this child rearing path in fear or in faith. It’s a choice we make. Every day. To walk in fear is to say that I am choosing not to turn my fears over to the Lord in prayer. Instead, I am going to hold tight to them and keep them safe with me. I do not trust that the Lord will worry enough for my children, so I will do it myself. I think the lesson for us to learn as parents is that we cannot fight this battle for our kids standing up.
This battle is won on our knees.
That’s not to say that we are absolved from doing all that we can to infuse our children with noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable things. We are to fill their hearts and minds with the things of Christ and show them with our lives what it means to truly love Him and be loved by Him. We must be wise, and do our best to help them navigate the pitfalls that litter their paths. With our help, they can sidestep many of those. And for the ones they step right into in spite of us or while we are not looking, they will then experience the overwhelming grace of the Father who loves them as He leads them out again.
It’s then that we parents get to be God with skin on. Because it doesn’t matter how many safety scissors we buy them, they will still have trouble in this life. I think it is easier for Christian parents to put their lives in God’s hands than it is for them to give their children’s lives that same opportunity.
I look at my three adults-in-training (my little ones doesn’t quality for that yet) and I realize that my role as parent is probably as crucial as it has ever been. And it is probably most crucial now that I give their lives over to the One who holds them in His hands anyway. I don’t want to walk in fear for my children.
I want to walk in the freedom of great faith, knowing that God has His hand on them every step of the way, and that I can trust Him with my fears.