Last night I tossed and turned for hours. It was so strange–out of nowhere, I woke up with an overwhelming fear for my son’s safety. I was afraid that some day, somewhere, when I am not there to protect him, he would fall. Like, literally, fall–off a balcony, down some stairs, or over a rail.
As random as that fear seems, especially in the middle of the night when Isaac was safe and sound in his crib, the fear isn’t new. Ever since Isaac was born, I’ve had an irrational fear that he would somehow fall from a great height. Some of you might remember that during the first week of his life, I made my dad and brother tie a volleyball net over an open stairwell in our home. It was a major eyesore, but I needed it there. Otherwise, every time I walked by that stairwell it filled me with panic.
Since then, I’ve remained extremely nervous about “fall-zones,” like my parents’ balcony, or my mother-in-law’s stairs. If Isaac is remotely near either one, my blood pressure escalates and I quickly pull him (and by that I mean whoever is holding him) away from the edge. I have no idea where this fear came from, but it has persisted, and now it’s apparently waking me up at night.
What strikes me about this fear is the timing. Everything in our family has been great. Sure, school is busy and our lives are crazy, but crazy in a good way. Our family is in a season of great joy, and we spend most of our days thanking and praising God for His goodness.
That’s the funny thing about fear. Fear can slither in at any time, the good times and the bad. Just when everything is going your way, fear whispers: “This can’t possibly last forever. Something bad is bound to happen. Just. you. wait.”
I don’t know about you, but some of my greatest struggles with fear have occurred during the happiest times of my life. Usually my fear is rooted in some twisted belief about God’s character–that He can only use tragedy to grow me, or that He doesn’t want me to get “spoiled” by His blessing–but the result is always the same: it steals my joy. Rather than revel in God’s provision, I ruin the moment by worrying about the future.
I hate the way fear makes me feel, think, and live. I hate the way fear robs me of joy in the present. And I hate the way fear makes me treat other people. I know the fear is not from God, and that it is the handiwork of His Enemy. I hate it for that reason too.
However, as I work through this crazy fear about my son, there is one reason that I am grateful for fear, and I say this as I defiantly shake my fist at the one who meant it for ill:
Fear drives me closer to God.
Fear brings me to my knees in prayer, and it reminds me that this world is not my home. Fear points me back to the truth that one day, there will be no fear. There will come a day when I never again experience the not yet-ness of earth. Never again will my good days–not even my great days–be punctured by an ache, a gnawing, a fear, or the sense that even in the midst of seeming perfection, something is missing.
The feeling that I have, even in the most joyful seasons of my life, that feeling of temporality and of potential for loss, the feeling that there’s something more perfect than the perfection of this earth–that is my home calling.
One day I will have the perfect joy for which my soul longs. It will be the end of fear. My happy seasons of life will no longer be punctured by the fear of pain and loss, because there will be no more pain. “Perfect” truly will be perfect, as I dwell in eternity with my Savior, whose perfect love casts out fear.
As I pray through this fear about my son, that is my hope and my way forward. I’m going to meditate on God’s love, His goodness, and the home that He is preparing for me. Because I don’t know where my life is headed, but I do know that the end of this story isn’t fear. It’s never-ending joy.
Thanks be to God.