My husband has this habit that I know he’s not aware of. It took me a while to realize he wasn’t doing it on purpose, at least not consciously. When he drives, if the car in front of him flashes a turning signal or their break lights come on, he will suddenly speed up. It’s like the signal tells his brain, “Go Faster!” This is exactly the opposite of what we are supposed to do in those situations. Now if you know me at all, you know that I’m not easily scared riding in a car. My dad was infamous for being a…..creative driver. Regardless of how much practice I’ve had, sometimes Ryan’s habit scares me and I shout out in fear. When I do say something he usually replies with, “I know, I see it.” That frustrates me because it certainly doesn’t seem like he sees it. Speeding up doesn’t feel like the right action. Occasionally we disagree because I think he’s taking unnecessary risks and he feels he has everything under control.
Recently this situation occurred and it made me think about reactions. More specifically it made me think about fearful reactions. Sometimes fear is so strong we can’t help but shout about it. Listen to the things in this world that people are shouting about. In todays activist society it seems everyone is shouting about something. But when you really listen to the things people are saying, do you hear fear? My husband also likes to jump out and scare people. Our daughter will scream out when he does it to her. Sometimes she knows he’s there and she still screams out. It reminds me how our fear is sometimes valid and sometimes just our own anticipation.
This is especially true for parents. We see our kids making decisions that we don’t agree with and we try to convince them that our way is better. Usually parents speak from a place of wisdom and experience. But sometimes we speak from fear. We watch as our kids speed up when we think they should be preparing to stop. They take an action that doesn’t seem right for the situation. Sometimes we’re right. There have been times when riding with Ryan, I shouted out in fear and it saved us from a serious accident. But I must admit there have been other times when I’ve let fear get the best of me. Those are the times when we are the inappropriate ones. As parents, we don’t know everything. Often times we base our opinions on what we want them to do instead of on who they are.
Sometimes we need to heed fear and other times we need to guard against it. The difficulty lies in discerning which is which. Recognizing real fear allows us to take evasive action. To protect ourselves and our loved ones. But catastrophizing is focusing on fears that may not occur or are unlikely to occur in the situation. For instance the fear of getting in a car accident is real if there’s heavy traffic and the roads are icy. However, you can drive more slowly, take your time, or perhaps go a different route. Getting in a car accident is not as realistic a fear if you’re on a deserted dirt road. It could happen of course but it’s not likely.
Ask yourself is the worst possible outcome the only option? If so, then you’re likely letting your irrational fear lead the conversation. If there’s another more positive outcome that could occur, don’t rule it out. Unless there is plenty of supporting evidence for your reason to believe a certain outcome, you may be shouting out of fear. Be honest with yourself, are you only considering evidence that supports your argument or are you considering all the evidence?
As parents we need to be able to put into perspective what real fears are and what is only our anticipation of a life different from what we hope for. How can we know for sure what God has planned for our children? The short answer is, we can’t. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. We can educate our children and give them wise advise. But eventually we have to trust that we raised intelligent, independent, self-sufficient individuals who will need to provide and decide for themselves how they will live.
In the meantime we can pray. I refer again to the Bible in Mark 9:22-24 when a child stricken with what appears to be epilepsy is having convulsions and the boy’s father says, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” As you follow the story to verse 27 you see it reads, “But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” We might have negative beliefs about the choices our kids make but it doesn’t mean we have to cry out in fear. We can cry out for the courage to believe a change can happen even when we doubt it can. We may feel like shouting out of fear, but God is saying, “I know, I see it.”