Can I let you in on a little secret? We’re all a little afraid.
Fear controls us. It captures us. It paralyzes us. It dominates our thoughts, and it can easily poison our mind, our memories, our dreams.
It's the topic of so many conversations I have. So many parents. So many people. Parents who have lost children. Parents who have sick children. Parents who have healthy children. People with no children… Let's be real. People in general.
Fear is commonplace. Fear can be overtaking, but listen, fear is normal. So, so normal.
How do you deal with the fact, as parents, that you cannot protect your children from all of it? How do you deal with the fact that bad things happen– and they even happen to innocent lives? How do you deal with the fact that there is sickness and pain and dysfunction and brokenness that you have no control over, and at any moment, all of that can seep into your lives and families?
Many of us don't deal.
I know I didn't.
I spent so many days in fear when my Charlie was in the hospital. I did not sleep. I could not handle even being away from his side for more than a few hours without calling his nurse at least five times, and yet, even when I was at the hospital, I was still worried about him and then also worried about what a horrible mom I was being to my older son, Lincoln, by not being the one there to raise him. Then every single test. Bloodwork. Echocardiograms. EKGs. Every sniffle. Every blip on the monitor. I lived in a heightened state, because any little sign could have meant my baby was slipping away from me.
And then the dreadful day came, and I had to stand tall and face it that I would grow old on this earth without him in my arms. As composed as I tried to be, I could not catch my breath when I found out it was really the end.
It was in that moment, that the fear of losing him lost its grip on me.
And in the coming days, weeks, and months, fear has been replaced with ache.
And I watch my older son grow, embracing life fully. He doesn't go a day without some new bump on his head or another skinned knee. I watch him, and I know… I cannot let fear hold me any longer.
Anecdotal evidence rarely helps anyone, and though I am a Christian, no amount of verses could convince my stubborn heart to trust.
And yet, I have loved, and I have lost, and on the other side, there is so much hope.
I see that I have nothing to fear. Hope is stronger than fear. Love is stronger than fear, especially a mother’s love for her child. I have seen nothing else on this earth stronger than the bond between a bereaved mother and a child she can no longer hold.
I know that fear distracts us. Fear paralyzes us. Fear robs us of our capacity to follow love and embrace every moment we have. Fear is not fair. Fear does not play nicely.
If I could do Charlie’s life all over again, I would made every effort to push fear aside. I would have replaced my fear with more kisses. More laughs. More opening my eyes to the little joys, the little smiles, the little moments. I would have soaked in them. Memorized every hair on his head, breathed him in, sitting for hours with him laying on my chest. I would have cherished it all.
I can’t do it all again with Charlie, but I can with Lincoln.
Hear this, friends… throw fear to the wayside. Let it crumble in the dust beneath your feet. You have nothing to fear. Love conquers even death. Standing on this side of fear, I see that it’s only a distraction. It’s a meddler. It wants your gaze and your heart and your mind. Friend, give yourself to love instead. Give yourself to presence. Give yourself to strength. Give yourself to cherishing all of your ordinary days, all of your joys and pains. Give yourself to living the life before you.
Sweet friend, we’re all a little afraid. Let’s all be a little brave. Let’s give ourselves to love over fear.
Trust me. It’s worth it.