We drove to the top of the falls and filed out of the van. Impending dread started creeping in. “Oh no, we are going to stand at the top of the falls with our little ones”, I thought. There were 6 mere boards between my children and sudden, sure death. Walking up to my husband–who was not nearly as concerned, I mentally knew they were safe. Their father was watching them–perhaps not as closely as I would have liked (do you know what I mean, moms?). Still, I started to snap, barking out orders for them to do pretty much nothing short of breathing and looking at the falls. My husband told me repeatedly I needed to relax.
I could do no such thing. My heart was gripped with fear. No matter what I told it, it wanted to protect and control each of my little ducks until I could tuck them safely back into the van. It was not an entirely irrational fear. Children are unpredictable and dart this way and that without warning. There IS great danger on the other side of those wooden boards.
But there is great beauty on this side of the boards. And for me to keep and control them safely away from the views so that my own heart is not fearful is to deny them the opportunities to know and experience God–His creation and His beauty, in this case.
I went to the van with the baby and the weight on my chest quickly dissipated. My other children were still there, near the falls, with only wooden barriers, a held hand, and verbal instruction fencing them in. They were with their father. As I left, I realized I had to trust them to his care. I trusted he would watch and protect them as they walked down the 450+ stairs along the falls. I drove the van down to meet them and I was no longer afraid. Was it because I couldn’t see them and the particular dangers they faced? Was it because I transferred my trust to their father? Did one cause effect the other? I don’t know.
I know that I have been to mountains by myself without that same retching response which grips me when my children are near heights. On my own, I can take in the sights and enjoy the views. But with them, I cannot take my eyes off of them–to a fault.
Whatever the case, these little lessons are instructive to me also when applied to growing children who face other kinds of cliffs and dangers: the real-life pitfalls young people must face as they grow into adults.
As with my little ones near the falls, I am prone to want to control and manage many aspects of my growing children’s lives. I feel so much better when they are tucked safely into harnesses. Yet as they grow, I have to resist those fears. I am not talking about abdicating our parental duties. We need to communicate and correct them with the fences of God’s word and keep calling them to follow the narrow road of obedience to Christ.
My kids are not yet grown and our story is being written, yet humbly speaking from where I stand today, I know God is asking me to “let” Him be their God. How will they learn to know God for themselves if I am always removing the danger, always curbing the risk? May I not keep them on the safest, blandest trails–miles away from the danger so that I can gain a false sense of control. He has been a God to me! I trust Him for myself. Can’t I trust that He will be a God to them?
If their salvation depends solely on me, I have already mortally failed. I do every day! But if the Father is guiding them along the path, He is the one who is able to keep and protect what is His. He is mighty to save! May I let them grow up and not keep them from seeing the amazing and breathtaking views of God Himself.
In writing a piece like this, I am revealing my heart and my fears as a mom. I realize many of our readers are not mothers. Though I try to steer away from “mom posts” for that reason, I pray these lessons about control and trusting God rise above my particulars and that women can discern how God is calling us each of us to trust Him more.
In Christ’s love, Erika