I sat on the edge of my daughter’s bed as she listed off a number of reasons she’s afraid of the dark. After validating her fears, I admitted that I sometimes get scared of the dark, too.
“You DO?” she asked with eyes wide. “But you’re a grown-up!” she exclaimed incredulously.
“Grown-ups get scared, too,” I replied.
“But why?” she asked.
“Because just like you, we can’t see in the dark and we get afraid that something dangerous might be hiding there,” I said.
Even after some further explanation, my sweet girl just couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that an adult would be afraid of the dark. She was in disbelief and told me that she wouldn’t be scared of anything when she grows up.
And I hope she’s right. But I won’t be surprised if she calls me one day many years from now seeking comfort from the frightening shadows that hover about.
Because this stage of life—as an adult, as a wife and mother—is scary, too.
With each passing day I become increasingly aware of the darkness that hangs over our world. And I can’t always see the danger that lurks. I’m less certain now about what ills are hiding around the corner than I was as a child. But I know for sure that whatever it might be is far scarier than what I once imagined. No longer is it the fear of monsters or mysterious noises in the night that keep me awake, but the fear of something far more sinister.
Words like assault, murder, and tragedy swirl around furiously in the blustery hours of everyday life. I know all too well that danger doesn’t just skulk in the dark, but in the daylight, too. And no matter how clear my eyesight or how bright the sun shines, I still can’t always see it.
I fear for the ones I love most. And while I like to think that I am my children’s ultimate protector, it’s just not true. The darkness of this world is simply more powerful than I am.
We live in an era of school shootings and blatant disregard for life. The actions of those who have dark hearts are outside of my control. And danger makes its way into the most unexpected places. This digital age is steeped in confusion and uncertainty as predators routinely pose as friends. The path from childhood to adulthood seems far more difficult to navigate than just a decade or two ago. And at times I find myself paralyzed in fear that my children won’t make it to adulthood. There’s evil disguised by masks of innocence and even I am not so wise as to not be fooled.
And although each member of our small family is in good health, I know that guarantees nothing. Cancer has become a household word. Tragic accidents routinely occur. Disease and death often strike when we are at our most unsuspecting. And if there’s one thing I’ve become keenly aware of, it’s that parents, and spouses, and children die.
I am scared of what this dark, broken world has in store for me, for us.
And yet, as a mother, I am called to be courageous, to lay my fears at the foot of God and bravely march forward. He promises to be a light in the dark, to lead me, to be by my side every step of the way on this perilous journey.
Yes, this stage of life scares me. I’ve been handed the responsibility of protecting those I love, but I know that I don’t fully have the power or intuition to do so. I timidly put one foot in front of the other, afraid of what might be looming around the bend.
But this scary stage of life also provides me an opportunity to teach my children the power of faith. To help them bravely move forward, even when the darkness threatens to hold them back. And to trust that even in the darkness, God will light the way.
I cannot always protect the ones I love, but I can lead them through the dark with confidence, knowing that God is leading me.
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