In the forefront of my mind this week has been the safety of my children. About a week ago, in a neighborhood very close to mine, a little 8-year old girl was kidnapped while walking with her mother in broad daylight. By God’s grace, she was found late that evening and returned to her parents, due to the heroic efforts of the community and local police. But I can’t stop thinking about my own children, the three beautiful daughters I call mine, and the responsibility I have as their mother. What would I have done in that situation?
We all think we will turn into huge, green, mama-Hulks if something ever threatened our babies—but the truth is, we won’t. At least, I know from experience that I am not the badass in a crisis that I wish I was.
Before David and I had kids, I owned a yoga studio for a hot minute. And one sunny Monday afternoon I was walking into the building to open for classes that evening. A car pulled up next to me and a man yelled, “Hey! Do you know what time it is?” I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was way off, and fumbled for my keys, but before I could even put my thoughts together the man was out of the car and grabbing me. I yelled and fought and eventually realized he wasn’t trying to take me, he was trying to take my bags, so I let them go and ran inside. He drove off with a young child in the car who watched the whole thing.
Besides being the reason my yoga studio bit the dust, this incident made me realize something about myself. It made me see that I am only human, and not a sleeper MI-6 operative just waiting to blow my cover. It also made me realize that we are really never as “safe” as we think we are. So, how are we supposed to handle this reality as moms, as parents?
My husband and I have had many (quite civil of course) disagreements about the difference between taking a leap of faith versus just doing something that is plain stupid. I tend to lean towards the mentality that doing something that seems stupid (like evangelizing in a bad part of town late at night for instance) but is for the Kingdom is ultimately worth the risk. He is more of the mind that deliberately putting oneself in a “dangerous” place or situation, whether for God’s glory or not, is being careless with one’s responsibility to their dependents.
I really can see it both ways. I’ve had a hard time weeding through what is Truth and what is not, with regard to this topic. When it comes to my own safety, I feel much more comfortable taking liberties and leaps of faith. I know that God loves me, I know He will give me as much strength as I need to get through hard things, and I know if I die I will go to heaven. But when it comes to my children, I find myself floating about in a land of fears that revolve around their safety and my role in it.
One thing my husband and I have discussed is the question, “Whose responsibility is it to protect our children?” The two obvious answers are ours and God’s. Scripture is clear that we are to cherish our children as blessings from the Lord (Psalm 127:3), we are to teach them the right way to live (Prov. 22:6), and we are not to hinder them from pursuing God (Matt. 19:14). There are so many verses (literally hundreds) about God’s protection of us, I can’t even begin to list them here. There are stories of parents’ heroic efforts to save their children—Jochebed, the mother of Moses, disobeyed Pharaoh’s orders and smuggled her baby into a basket and sent him down the river. Then there are stories like Abraham and Isaac, that fall into the “leap of faith vs. stupidity” category, where Abraham nearly kills his own son because God asked him to. And then you have the ultimate example of God the Father sending his only Son to earth to be tortured and killed for our sins. That hardly seems like protection! But God the Father is perfect, a perfect parent. What does He know that we don’t? He knows the real threat.
We need to know our enemy. We have to ask, “What are we protecting our children from?” My weak, fearful heart is usually worried about the external threats—the kidnappers, the rapists, the pornographers; these things are surely pure evil and I have seen their lifelong, damaging effects in the lives of some of my friends. Yes, I absolutely want to do what I can to prevent these horrible things from happening to my children. But I believe all of the Bible, not just some of it, and I know God wants me to see that there is a still greater threat to my children than these external tortures.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12). I don’t say this to darken your view, but to encourage you in your walk as a parent, as to where to direct your focus.
The real threat is sin—not the sins of others, but our own sin, because it separates us from God, which leads to eternity in hell. And the real threat to our children is their own sin, which we are called to enlighten them to and call them to repentance. Stupidity is not a sin. Not being a black-belt ninja warrior is not a sin. Being a victim of assault is not a sin. Fighting against evil with real weapons is not a sin. But not trusting God is a sin.
So, my takeaway from this week has been Pray, and trust God first. I cannot ultimately control what happens to my children. I can keep them in a plexiglass bubble their entire lives and make them wear sunscreen and teach them karate; I can be proficient in the use of all kinds of weapons and train for every foreseeable situation, but God is in control of their lives. He sees the unforeseen. He holds them in the palm of His hand.
I confess, I don’t understand why things have to be so evil in this world sometimes, but I don’t have to understand. One day I will know. And for now I have to acknowledge the part I have played in making this sinful world the way it is, rather than pointing the finger at others. No sin is less evil than another, no person more righteous than another.
I will leave you with this:
“In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:10-11