For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1:7
Andy and I spend a lot of time seeking God in prayer when it comes to raising our little guy. If God has shown us anything about Cale, it’s that, even at just 21 months old, He has created him to be adventurous, independent and fearless. Truthfully, none of those attributes come naturally to me; I like the safety and dependency of my comfort zone, but if I’m going to honour these attributes that God has placed within my son, it is my job to keep him from becoming cautious, dependent and fearful.
From the moment he became mobile, Cale has kept me on my toes. Whether it’s climbing up and down flights of stairs or finding the tallest jungle gym on the playground to zoom down the slide of, this kid is determined to do it, and to do it alone. How dare I try put my hand on his back or hold his hand? He is fearless.
The other day, a friend and I were playing with our boys on a jungle gym. As usual, Cale was enjoying himself- climbing and sliding, climbing and sliding, over and over, until he found a part of the jungle gym he had never seen before… It was one of those balance beams that you walk across to reach the other side of the jungle gym. Sure, it had a net, but just looking at it made my palms sweat. (Rhyme not intentional) I tried to distract Cale, encouraging him to go down the slide again instead, but he wasn’t having it. Usually, that’s when I would tap out and send my hubby in, but he wasn’t there. I decided that I would stand at the bottom and help Cale along but 1) I’m slightly, a lot, too short and 2) Cale wasn’t sure how to do it so he was gesturing for me to do it with him. This is where I had a choice… Either I put my own fears aside and help my little guy do this thing that he really wants to do, or, I transfer my fears on to him and risk him never attempting to do it again. So I climbed onto the balance beam. I held Cale’s hand with my one hand, held on for dear life to the support bar with my other, and shuffled along the beam. And you know what? We survived! And the huge grin on Cale’s face when he got to the other side was absolutely priceless.
This is what I have learnt:
If I’m going to raise Cale to be fearless, the first step is to gain control over my own fears.
Allowing him to do these things, knowing that he may get a few bumps and bruises along the way, has not been easy for me. If it were up to me, I’d wrap him in bubble wrap and never let him out of my arm’s reach. Never. I have always been quite fearful and apprehensive; Climbing, adventuring, heights, etc. are not my thing. Throughout my life, I have let my own fears hold me back from so many things, so I am determined to not let my fears get in Cale’s way too.
It’s about leaning on Jesus’ strength
As with most everything in parenting, I so often doubt my capabilities as a mom. I don’t feel adequate enough to hold up to the responsibilities and calling that come with raising this little life that I love so very much. Then I remember that it’s not about me. God chose me to be the best mom that Cale can have. The word used for “power” in 2 Timothy 1:7, is “dunamai” which literally means “I am able”. God has not created me to fear my role as a mom, He has made me able. Able to do the things that don’t come naturally to me, able to care for and love for my boy, able to be all that being his mom entails.
It all has to be rooted in love
When I think back to the day Cale was born, I remember it all so vividly that it feels as though I’m reliving it. Looking down at this life that had grown inside me for 9 months, a perfect mixture of myself, my husband and God’s goodness, I instantly knew a love that I had never known before- A love so fierce, so gentle and so, so deep that I could explode under its magnitude. I promised to care for him and protect him for the rest of his life. I’ve had to learn that that I can’t keep that promise literally. I can’t be there every second of his life, I can’t stop him from getting hurt, or sick, or upset. I can have faith and trust God that the Holy Spirit will be with him when I can’t be (Which is, by the way, one of the best pieces of encouragement I have ever received, from one of my dearest mommy friends) I can’t always protect him from the hard things that, let’s face it, he has to experience if he’s going to make it in this world. But I can be there, with open arms, to shower him with love when things don’t go as planned.
Fearless does not mean foolish
Please don’t get the wrong message here, I will not let my child do something that will blatantly put his life in danger. I understand that a certain amount of fear is there as an innate form of protection. I will not allow my child to jump in a fire just because he isn’t scared to do it. What I’m talking about is teaching my child to know the difference between having a fearful, and a sound mind. Where a fearful mind is irrationally cowardice, a sound mind is directed by wisdom. Sure, sometimes fearlessness comes with a bump or two, but that’s how we learn and, in turn, increase in wisdom. There are some things that Cale needs to learn for himself and others that I do need to step in on. My biggest lesson has been deciding which is which-A wisdom journey of my own.
As much as it goes against my need to protect Cale with every fibre of my being, I do know this… if I stop him from doing every little thing that could be even the slightest cause for concern, he would never grow in wisdom, he would never learn to try again, and he would never have the opportunity to conquer the mountains of life. If I am going to raise Caleb fearlessly, I need to hang on to 2 Timothy 1:7 ” For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” This applies to both of us. My adventurous, independent, and fearless 21-month-old, and me.