Monday, December 23, 2013

Overcoming Fear

At Connor's 3rd grade Christmas party!  I begged and pleaded with Connor to wear more festive Christmas clothes.  We compromised on a green t-shirt.

At Cooper's first grade Christmas party.  Yes, we are playing the same toilet paper wrapping, snowman game.  Thanks to Pinterest, I think every mom in the school selected the same party games!

A few weeks back, Connor and friends nestled into the backseat of my minivan.  The conversation flowed between important topics such as coolest superhero to best Lego set.  Somewhere along the way, Connor tossed out the fact that his mother would be running the Boston Marathon this year.

His friend listened and then recounted last year's Boston Marathon tragedy.

I replied, "This year the Boston Marathon will be a lot safer."

"Well, how do you know?" his friend popped back.

Of all the times I've released that pat response, I've never once had someone question my certainty.  Leave it to a kid to say what everyone else is thinking!

I can predict that the Boston Marathon will be safer, but I can't guarantee it.  Few things in life can be guaranteed.  And because of that, I have a choice to live in fear and avoid the race altogether or charge forward despite any risks. 

I replied, "I don't know if the Boston Marathon will be safer this year, but I do know that God doesn't want me to live a life gripped with fear.  I know God has a plan and I can trust in that plan whatever it may be."

His friend seemed satisfied with my answer and the conversation jumped back to Ninjas and the possibility of a Zombie apocalypse.  I, on the other hand, mulled over our conversation.  Honestly, I never thought twice about my safety during the race.  Lightning doesn't strike twice, right!  But it could happen.  And knowing this fact, I have the choice of how to react to fear and uncertainty.

Like the answer I offered Connor's friend, my choice was made; I vowed to run the race and live a life untethered by fear.  And more importantly, I wanted to teach that lesson to my children too.

Sometimes fear can be healthy and wise.  We fear jumping off a cliff, or touching a hot stove, or walking on glass.  But there is the other kind of fear.  The silly, debilitating sort that hinders us from experiencing a rich, full life.  Fear of failure, embarrassment, or disappointment.

This weekend, Cooper had the opportunity to sing a Christmas song in front of the church.  At the Saturday evening service, his premiere performance was to take place.  As we neared the stage, Cooper's knees began to shake.  He clutched my hand.  His stage freight registered in his palm and radiated up my arm.  He was unable to shake his terror and so he settled in backstage and watched from the sidelines as his friends belted out the lyrics and performed the choreographed routine.

I was disappointed, sad that he let fear hinder him from joining his friends in an amazing experience.  And so Cooper and I had a conversation about fear and how it zaps us from experiences and life.

On Sunday morning, the opportunity arose for Cooper to return to the stage.  His fear popped back, but I continued to whisper the mantra "Don't let fear win; never let fear win."  With much trepidation, he joined his friends on stage.  I watched from the sidelines as my sweet little boy caroled and swayed with the group.

When the music ended, his face was aglow.  He breathed, "Can I do again?"

"Fear didn't win," I beamed.  "Aren't you glad?"

He smiled and nodded.

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