A thief could be stalking you. The thief I’m speaking of won’t take your car or household treasures. This one tends to hunt down, steal and then destroy your joy and confidence. It’s insidious and it feeds on your response. This thief is fear.
Last week I blogged about how the “fear of men” can prevent us from living out God’s call on our life. It can stunt our social and emotional growth and disrupt the fulfillment of our and God’s dreams for us. It steals potential happiness before we can even sense its presence. It can also interfere with how we parent.
I certainly know how parenting a child with social, emotional or behavioral challenges can be fraught with fear. Taking care of any child is a serious endeavor, and one with special needs brings new and formidable tasks into our lives. It is understandable that when our child has autism, ADHD, bipolar, anxiety or other challenges, we can fear how others will interpret the social missteps, emotional reactions or behavior outbursts. The key is not letting this snare stop us in our tracks.
I struggled with this when my kids were young. There were some family activities we avoided because I feared the misunderstanding of others. My husband and I didn’t take our kids camping because we didn’t want to inconvenience other campers (and feel embarrassment) if our kids started to fight or experience a loud meltdown. We didn’t want our family to appear uncouth or for us to be regarded as bad parents. Bottom-line, we were afraid of the opinions of others.
Thankfully, not everyone responds like me. Recently I met a mom (Leanne) who has a young child with autism, but she refuses to let the opinion of others get in the way of enjoying time with her child. Proverbs 29:25 tells us that “fear of man will prove to be a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” This promise of safety includes spiritual and emotional well-being. Leanne knows she can’t please everyone, but she rests in the truth that she and her family are who and what God intended. Your family may be atypical, but know that God created each child in your family specifically for you to parent. We can be considerate of others, but balance that with the call to live life with our kids. Trust God to keep you emotionally strong as you practice facing uneducated opinion.
So how do you answer your fear? With action! Go ahead and go camping, skiing, boating, to church and to the movies. Your child may present you with some interesting challenges, but God will guide you through them and through the fear of what others might think. Have a short speech or pre-printed card ready for the challenging times, “Sorry, we’re working on that,” or “He/she has autism and this is a tough environment.” Or you may choose to ignore any disapproving glances, knowing that you and God are working on something bigger–imprisoning that thief and gaining joy and confidence in its place! You go, my friend!