Parents Are Afraid Too
by Kim Allen, Director of SHINE Children's Ministry
Confession time: I have always struggled with fear. At times, my thoughts have been completely irrational, but that doesn’t mean that my fear wasn’t real to me. To the contrary, it was overwhelmingly real. In my old age, it has lessened both in frequency and severity, but every once in a while those demons come back with a vengeance as if to say, “We haven’t made her miserable in a long time. Let’s get back to work!”
I think my issues with fear boil down to a deep reality within that I don’t want to readily admit: I am not in control. Any mom who hasn’t had this conversation in her head cannot be my friend (translation: I can be friends with every mom I know). We putt-putt along, under the fleeting, illusory notion that everything is under control. But, in essence, as one friend put it, “I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
When the Parkland, FL shooting happened, I was reminded again of the deep pain and sorrow of our world--a world I cannot control. I thought, “You are kidding me. ANOTHER school shooting?” How does this keep happening? Right on the tail end of that tragedy was news out of Austin, TX of mysterious bombings, randomly across the city. What has this world come to?
Parents everywhere wonder how to navigate this ever-increasing tension, both for themselves and their children. What do we say to our children when these things happen? What do we say to ourselves? Sometimes, I am sorely tempted to stick my head in the sand and avoid the headlines altogether, as if that will make it go away.
But I can also testify to this deep, resonating truth: the Sovereign God is with us. As the psalmist says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,” from Psalm 46. Folks, that is our comfort. It’s all we have. The good news is that it’s all we need. Some questions simply cannot be answered. Why did this child die from cancer? Why are there shootings in churches and school? Why are there homeless people?
Raising Boys and Girls, a counseling team based in Nashville, TN, addresses this in their newest book, Are My Kids on Track? 12 Emotional, Social and Spiritual Milestones Your Child Needs to Reach, with an accompanying podcast. In reference to children’s faith development, they write, “Answers are important in the early stages of a child’s faith development. Children need direct teaching. We want to teach, but we also want to listen . . . We want to give them room to ask questions--at every age. Some of those questions have concrete answers and some don’t. The questions that don’t have answers are answered in the mystery of God.” They give the example of a mother’s response to her child in the face of death.
- “I don’t know why He lets certain things happen, but I do know He loves us.”
- “I know our trust in who He is matters more than our understanding of why He does certain things.”
- “He’s still good even when He lets things happen that seem bad.”
- “I know He loves us no matter what and always wants to know how we feel.”
They add, “We want to lay a foundation that creates space for both the truth and the mystery of God.”
To reach a place of being at peace with not knowing all the answers is a sign of maturity at any age. It has been a long journey for me--one that’s not quite done if I am completely honest. There are still questions for which I want answers. But in the place of answers, sometimes He gives us only Himself. He is our refuge and strength, beckoning us to trade the illusion of control for the reality of peace that sustains us, especially when there are no easy answers.
The Breadbox is our Children's Ministry email. This monthly publication arrives chock-full information about SHINE, but also tips and resources on how you can disciple your small people.