As we approached the field, I noticed several little boys in baseball caps, pants and cleats. It was my 6-year-old son’s first ever baseball practice. A pace or two behind me, he wore beat up tennis shoes, a pair of jeans, and the glove I’d bought him (which suddenly looked more to me like a toy than an actual mitt).
Like it has for so many years, fear sidled up like a friend beside me. “Dressed like that, he’s going to look and feel foolish.”
I looked back at my boy who was now bent over trying to tie his shoe. Fear goaded, “And he’s going to be late, too.”
Somewhere in just this short walk, insecurities from my past came flooding up, fueling my anxious father’s heart. I yelled, “Come on! Hurry up and tie your shoe or you’ll be late!” My voice was seeping fret and frustration.
He fumbled with his laces. I winced. Little fingers don’t respond well to a parent’s urgency.
Sometime early in my life, fear came knocking like a door-to-door salesman. Seeming to know me well, it promised its protection in exchange for a home with me.
I don’t remember making this bargain. But looking back, I can see the evidence of it smudged all over my life like greasy fingerprints on a mirror: All the things I didn’t do, the relationships I ran from, the thoughts I held inside, the good image of myself I tried to project.
And now, harassed by fear that Saturday morning on the way to baseball, I turned fear loose on my boy.
Graciously, the Father edged closer than fear. He affirmed me and called forth something more in me than I was aware I had.
Like a man waking from sleep, I remembered the truth that all that had my attention isn’t what gives a kid confidence. A father does.
Still tying his shoe, I looked again. What a great boy. What a joy to be his father. Fear didn’t want me to see. God did.
“You know what, buddy? I’m sorry I raised my voice. We’re doing just fine on time. And you’re going to have a great practice today, I’m sure of it.”
I can’t guarantee my son a life free from pain. But I can walk with him. And I can point him to the courageous One who, with the Cross before him, felt greater fear than either of us ever will, and still obeyed.
If you’re in the Baltimore area, I hope you’ll join us this Thursday from 7 – 8:30 in Towson for our final night of our “Growing Digital Natives” seminar. Elise Rittler, LGPC, will be speaking to us about how to handle anxiety in your home. Elise’s insights have been a huge gift to many, myself included. I know they will be for you and your family, too. For more information or to register, click here.
Question: Has fear tried to keep you from seeing and loving others well? How have you responded? Leave a comment below.