Sunday, June 30, 2013

Facing Fears

"BEEP!  BEEP!  BEEP!" the smoke alarm rang out.  My oldest climbed onto my lap shaking and crying.  "Why is the smoke alarm beeping?  Is there a fire?  Why is it beeping, Mommy?"  It was beeping because our smoke alarms have a beeping problem.  They are networked and use our home's electricity to function but, every few months, they beep at random.  It almost always happens in the middle of the night when we are dead asleep.  We have replaced the batteries countless times to no avail.  And all this beeping has caused my son to develop a great fear of the sound.

I was winding up our bedtime stories and with those three little beeps, I had a kid that was not about to go to bed.  When he's nervous, his questions go into overdrive.  He will often ask the same thing over and over again because he doesn't like the answer.  He kept wanting to know why it was beeping when he truly wanted to know why we couldn't figure out how to make it stop.  After at least ten minutes of weaving our way through everything from the mechanics of a smoke alarm to our plan in case of a real fire, I needed this child to feel safe.  I needed him to know that he was protected.

In our church, we are doing a study called Gods at War and it talks about all the places we turn when we need comfort.  Food, shopping, alcohol, love...All things that are great in moderation.  But if we turn to them for comfort before turning to God, we are left wanting.  We just want another meal, another outfit, another drink and we never quite feel fulfilled.  This has been simmering in the back of my mind all week and, when my son said he was afraid, I thought it would be a great opportunity to teach him where he should turn for comfort.  And so we prayed.

I prayed for God to ease the fears in his heart.  I prayed for God to wrap a shield of protection over him so that he knew he was protected.  I wrapped him in a big bear hug and told him God is always there when he's afraid - He's never alone.  Then I said a silent prayer that it would bring my son comfort.

The next day we were driving under cloudy skies and thunder started rumbling overhead.  My son said, "Daddy,thunder used to scare me just like smoke alarms.  But mommy said to pray when I'm afraid and God will help me.  I tried it last night."  

"That's good, buddy," my husband replied.  "Did it work?"  

I was so glad he asked him that question.  He could have just agreed with me or let it go but, instead, he probed further to find out what was happening in our son's mind.

"Yeah, it really did.  I'm going to do it the next time and the next time and the next time," he told my husband.

I really and truly hope that I can do the same.

What irrational fears do your children have in their hearts?  How do you help them to move forward when they are paralyzed by fear?

P.S.  After a visit from the electrician, we learned our smoke alarms were overheating.  It has turned into a massive research project for my son.  He wants to learn everything there is to know about smoke alarms...Learning happens all sorts of ways, doesn't it?

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