I have a confession to make. I have terrible irrational fears concerning my children. When I say irrational, I mean… out there. Sometimes, when driving with my daughter in the back seat, I’ll be gripped with terror that I’ve left her somewhere and have to check the mirror to see if she’s still there. Weird, right? It gets weirder. Our backyard is a child’s wonderland—slides, swing sets, trampolines… the works. Needless to say, my daughter loves playing outside. If she runs out even thirty seconds before me, the thought crosses my mind, “What if she gets abducted?” It’s not only the thought. I have graphic images of these horrors taking place that play out in my mind. For example, if I watch a movie with alligators in it, my mind automatically jumps to how I can prevent my child from ever being around one. I wake up constantly in the night to check on my nine month old son because I’m spontaneously gripped with the fear that he might have stopped breathing. The list of horribly graphic scenarios that have run through my mind seem endless. I know all this sounds morbid, but I need to get it out there. I have an irrational fear that improbable, but terrible, things will happen to my children.
For the longest time, I kept these fears to myself. I’m sure my wife would hear me sit up in bed with a loud, soul clenching grunt and wonder what was happening. Finally, I confided in a few friends who are also fathers about what was going on. I was shocked to hear that one of them was going through the same thing. That made me wonder how many other people suffered from these types of fears, whether about their children or anything else.
I, by no means, can claim any type of expertise in disposing of irrational fears, but I have learned a few things to help manage them.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”—Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
You might not can help whether or not a thought pops into your mind, but you do have control over whether or not to entertain it. When a terrible thought enters your mind, stop what you’re doing and attempt to think rationally. Think hard about the reality that, not only does God exist, but he cares for you and your children. That is not to say that bad things don’t happen to Christians or that we shouldn’t take rational preventative measures to ensure our children’s safety, but that we should filter every fear through God’s Word. He is sovereign and nothing is outside the bounds of his control. Rest in the fact that the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God of the universe is working all things for your good. He is not absent from our lives, but is ever-present and nothing catches him by surprise. Instead of falling deeper and deeper into your imagination, take control and let these fears drive you to remembering who God is.
Isolation begets self-deception. We can convince ourselves of any number of irrational things if we have no accountability. Chances are that you’ve been overprotective at times and your spouse is unsure what to make of it. Talk to her about what is going on. Get it out. I know it can feel embarrassing to admit irrational thoughts, but you won’t be able to work through it unless the people closest to you know what’s going on.
When I have irrational fears about my children, I pray immediately that God would protect them and to give me the strength to trust him with their souls and lives. I am the immediate protector of my family, but God is the ultimate protector. Nothing gets by him. Pray that God would give you the peace to hand over the things you have no control over, to be diligent in the things you do, and to recognize the difference.
Easier said than done, right? But think about it. There are no blind spots. God sees everything you don’t. Rejoice that the mighty creator of the universe knows you by name and cares for your family infinitely more than you do. Rejoice that you have a family to care for. Rejoice that God hasn’t left us to figure out how to glorify him in our families, but has revealed that in his Word. Rejoice in the countless blessings that come from being a child of God and a leader of your family. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”—(Phil. 4:4)
Am I leaving anything out? What are some of your irrational fears and how do you deal with them?