As a parent one of my nightmares is the thought of watching my child die. I can't even imagine the pain, the longing, the confusion, the process of grieving losing my own child, while they are still a child. I was chatting with the front receptionist at one of kids schools (my 4 kids go to 3 different schools) yesterday about the safety protocol should someone bring a gun into the school. It isn't hard to imagine both because of the regularity of gun violence in American schools but also because the media shows us every little detail. If I dwell on the possibility too long I want to bring my kids home and start homeschooling them (except for the fact that I tried that for six months and I am the WORST teacher ever to my kids.)
I try sometimes to answer my fears with the knowledge that ultimately I know the end game, I know the final chapter. I know that earth will be restored, that sickness, evil and death have been defeated. That we were created to live in the presence of an all loving God and that one day heaven and earth will be reunited as one.
But the reality of day to day life is that I would rather avoid pain. And the fear of pain leads me to this strong desire to control--my situation, my circumstances and my people. But my four little or not so little people have a different opinion. They can actually smell my fear and sniff out my efforts to control and usually they would rather move against it. They are in that stage of life where they are willing to take risks, sometimes without understanding the consequences. So I try, as much as possible to help them understand the possible results of their decisions but not to control their decisions. They, after all, need to figure out this thing called life. They have to figure out what is a healthy risk and what is reckless. When to play it safe and when to step out in the unknown.
Which means I need to address my fears, look them in the face and not let the fears control me or control my relationships around me. And usually that means I need to be willing to experience the pain of having my heart attached to 4 people whom I cannot control and who will make mistakes and suffer. I want to keep my heart open to suffer with them but sometimes, sometimes it seems easier to just shut myself off or shut them off from the rest of the world.
Lent is always a reminder though that my Father, my heavenly Father, choose to enter my pain, choose to feel my pain and to suffer, voluntarily so that one day, I wouldn't. God choose to feel what we feel, experience the consequences of sin, death, rejection, sickness and pain. Rather than control us, God let us decide and was willing to suffer with and for us to give us our freedom. And that is why fear must go. And instead I choose love. Even if that means that pain comes with it.