Passing Down Fear


Eliot inherited many traits from me, including a love and need for people, and for gift-giving.

And somewhere in the bloodstream fear passed through, right into the umbilical chord to his tiny baby-being.

When I was little, fear was my friend and my foe.

I loved watching Are You Afraid of The Dark? at 4:00 every day after school, and once it was bedtime, I kept a light on.

When I was in high school, I experienced a grueling few nights of deep anxiety, a heavy, spiritual something lurking there in the dark.

So, since becoming a mother, I’m trying my best not to show my fearful parts.

I’ve tried to remind myself that spiders are God’s creatures, too, and that dark is dark because it was created to be.

Still, Eliot fears.

He covers his ears and closes his eyes if a movie character is too intense; if noises are too loud, he screams and runs into his bedroom for safety.

I don’t quite understand it yet, but there’s an urgency in me to walk with him through it.

I don’t want him to be afraid of being afraid, but I also don’t want fear to control and debilitate.

I want him to rejoice when all is well, to grieve when he finds brokenness– to know God in all seasons of his life.

So, my role becomes more exposed, my every move seen by these little boys in my midst.

I’m reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark, and every night when I go to bed, things are different now. The dark is more of a friend, more of an experience, more of a peace.

She says:

“To be human is to live by sunlight and moonlight, with anxiety and delight, admitting limits and transcending them, falling down and rising up.”

So what does it look like to have a healthy fear, to let little ones hide from the mean characters they see, but to understand that in the world, there are broken things bumped right up against beautiful ones?

We stand in the balance, we are the in-betweeners, the ones who see glory and agony all in one space.

May we reach past our own fears and grasp Spirit-in-humanity wherever we can find it, most especially with our children by our side.

One thought on “Passing Down Fear

  1. This post brings to mind my favorite scripture passage about darkness….Psalm 139. We sang a song in Concert Choir a few years ago that was a powerful and moving setting of this text….the harmonies and the dissonances were perfectly matched to the meaning of the words. The title of the song is “Lord, Thou Hast Searched Me” – here is a link – …..(I think the tempo is too fast)

    and here are the words, since they are hard to understand just by listening to the choir.

    Lord, thou hast searched me and dost know
    wherever I rest, wherever I go.
    Thou knowest all that I have planned,
    and all my ways are in thy hand.

    My words from thee I cannot hide;
    I feel thy power on every side –
    oh, wondrous knowledge, awful might,
    unfathomed depths, unmeasured height!

    Where can I go apart from thee,
    or whither from thy presence flee?
    In heaven? it is thy dwelling fair.
    In death’s abode? lo, thou art there.

    If I the wings of morning take,
    and far away my dwelling make,
    the hand that leadeth me is thine,
    and my support thy power divine.

    If deepest darkness cover me,
    the darkness hideth not from thee.
    To thee both night and day are bright;
    the darkness shineth as the light.

    The fourth stanza is amazing…..even if I run away from You, it is Your hand that is guiding me. Wow.

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