My husband and I have been taking a class based on the book Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. One of the topics covered early in the book is different parenting styles. One of the most popular styles among Christian parents seems to be “fear based” parenting. With “fear based” parenting, the parents are literally afraid of everything, and therefore try to protect their kids from the world. Dr. Kimmel states that he would rather raise strong kids than safe kids. This might initially sound like you’re giving up safety and feel counter-intuitive, but reading it reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago.
One night I couldn’t fall asleep because I found myself anxious about my then 4-year-old daughter, Sarah. We had put her in a loft bed sooner than I felt comfortable with, but did so in order to create the space needed for her to share a room with her older sister. Sarah had been sleeping in the loft bed for nearly 9 months without incident. But for some reason, I couldn’t get the fear of her falling off the bed out of my head that night.
Frustrated, I prayed to God to please keep her safe, and to not let her fall out of her bed. I got up to go the the bathroom, and on my way back to my bed I clearly heard a voice in my head say, “But what if I did?” My heart stopped. “No, God. You wouldn’t do that.” I shook the thought and the voice away, convinced that it could not be God. Moments later, I heard a scream and then crying from down the hall. I ran to my daughters’ room to find Sarah on the floor, sobbing. Her older sister was beside her, comforting her. “Sarah fell out of the bed,” Katie said.
I picked Sarah up and looked her over, and asked her if anything hurt. She shook her head no. There were no bruises. There were no broken bones. Not even a scratch. Sarah described what she remembered. She had woken up as she “bounced” down the steps to her bed. But, she said, her blanket had kept her safe. She had been wrapped up in her blanket, much like a little burrito, and those layers had cushioned her fall and protected her from any injuries.
As I tried to fall asleep that night, I pondered why God allowed this to happen. My daughter was fine, but I had prayed that she would not fall. Why would God allow that to happen? It finally dawned on me that God may have allowed it to happen, but He had protected her. Wrapped safely in her blanket, he had provided a safety net for her fall.
It changed the way I pray. I no longer just pray that God will protect my children from the world, but instead I pray that He will be with them through it all. Bad stuff is going to happen – we live in an imperfect, sinful world and each day presents its hazards. The important thing is not that God protect my children from anything bad ever happening, but that He be with them through it all. I pray that my children will put their trust, their hope, in Him. With His comforting Spirit wrapped around them, they will survive the bumps and grow stronger in the storms. There will be times that they will be hurt – either physically, emotionally or mentally. But with Jesus, nothing can harm their soul. They are His.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39