I find myself saying it again and again to my children. Even when I know they’re fine, even when I know they’re really not doing anything dangerous, those two words somehow seem to escape my lips, sometimes even without me thinking about it.
I probably say it most often to my nine year old son. He’s the one who “needs” it to be said the most too. He jumps from the highest points, rides his bike the fastest, and is a wanna-be skateboarder and parkour jumper. He does those things as best as a nine year old can, but his heart beats for more danger. Higher. Bigger. Faster. He actually told me recently that when he thinks about doing dangerous things, he just knows that’s what he was made for.
Fortunately he hasn’t had any major injuries but he’s taken some pretty big spills that make me cringe to think about.
One day fairly recently, he was going to ride in the morning with Jason and without even thinking about it, I said those two words.
He looked at me, angrily to a point. “Mom, you don’t have to tell me every time. I know you want me to be careful.”
I sighed as they left. I really didn’t even mean to say it. It just came out. As I was drinking my coffee, it suddenly dawned on me what he actually said. And what he didn’t say.
He didn’t say that he knows to be careful. He said he knows I WANT him to be careful. There is a difference. Whether or not he really meant it the way he said it, it still got me thinking. A lot. About this whole safety thing. And I’ve been praying about it and thinking on it the way I do and I’ve come to a crazy conclusion.
I don’t want my children to live safely.
Say what again?
Let me clarify a bit. Do I pray for my children’s safety? Yes, I do. Do I want my children to be physically safe? Yes, I do. Do I sometimes want to hide them from this world, keep them tucked away in our safe home, shelter them from the darkness and hold them close? Yes, I do.
And therein lies the problem.
Selfishly, I want my children to live with me forever.
Truthfully, I know that’s not reality. Nor is that any way to live.
You see, there’s a spirt of darkness that exists in our world. It always has, since the fall of man. And to many of us, it seems that the time we live in is darker than ever. The world is fallen. The world is full of grief. The world is heavy and sad and burdened and lonely and hurting. So yes, it would seem appropriate that I shelter my kids from that.
However, that’s not how we’re called to live. We are called to be light in the darkness. And we cannot be light in the darkness if we are hiding. And I dare say, our children cannot be light, if I’m sheltering them from the darkness.
This isn’t to say we tell our kids all about the big bad scary world all at once and send them out without a care in the world. This also isn’t to say we don’t pray for our children’s protection and safety. I talk to my kids a lot about the line between being ‘aware’ and being ‘fearful.’ Sometimes those lines blur together a little bit.
But what I’m talking about here, is this idea of being careful. Being careful because we’re scared of being hurt. Scared of our children being hurt. Hurt by the darkness of the world, hurt physically or emotionally or whatever. And there’s an awful lot of stuff in the world that they need to be careful about. Sometimes I just ball up my fists angrily that this awful hateful world is the place where they are growing up.
But. Then I remember that while that is true, what also is true is that this earthly home is oh so temporary. And that the Bible specifically tells us that we were all born for such a time as this. As much as my daughter wishes she were born in the Prairie Days, that wasn’t the time God had for her. It’s here. Right now. I pray over and with all my children that they would know God’s voice and what He is leading them to. Now, and in the future. And that even as young children, He’s preparing their hearts for what He has for them.
Even if it’s something that requires them to not be so careful.
Because that’s the thing of it, mamas. When we’re careful, it’s because we’re afraid. We’ve seen so much and heard so much. So much in this world to be afraid of for our children. But when we listen to the media and watch our FB feeds anxiously and wring our hands and wait for the next big scary news, it causes us to go deeper and deeper into the perception that we need to keep our kids ‘safe.’ It feeds into our fear.
In the great words of Zootopia’s Assistant Mayor Bellweather, “Fear always works.” Think about it, when we’re afraid we feel powerless to do anything. And then do you know what I think happens? I think fear leads to apathy. It causes us to do nothing and say nothing, all in the name of safety.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children to live a life of fear. I don’t want them to make the safe practical choice every time they come up against opposition. I’ve learned more than ever over the past few years, that God doesn’t necessarily call us to a life of safety. When we feel uncomfortable, when we know we can’t do it on our own, when the world looks at us like we’re mad and we don’t know what we’re doing, then likely we’re doing what He’s asked of us. It’s not safe. It’s not a comfort zone. It might be a wild and crazy ride, and it likely means some bumps and bruises, but following Jesus will prove to be the best adventure.
When I think about the life I want for my children, I want them to run hard after Jesus. I don’t want them to see the rocks in the way, I don’t want them to hesitate because it looks a little dangerous. I want their eyes fixed on Him that fear fades completely away. Because being careful and safe sometimes puts God in a box of what’s possible. It basically says, “No thanks, God, I’ve got my safe little life figured out just fine, thank you very much.”
Here’s how I see it, mamas. You and I, and our children, are adopted as sons and daughters of the living God. We are not slaves to fear. We are His children, heirs to His Kingdom. We need to walk with that authority and pass that to our children.
So yes, the reality is that the world we raise our children in is broken. It needs Jesus. But who is going to be the light? Who is going to represent Him to the world? He creates beauty from ashes. He fathers the fatherless. He heals the sick. He comforts the broken. He saves the lost.
And somehow, He wants to use us to do His works. You and me. My kids. Your kids. To bring His Kingdom. For such as time as this. He uses us and He will use our children if we dare to put away our safety goggles and see the world how He sees it. To see people as He sees them. Our children are part of a generation rising up to proclaim His goodness. How can we expect our kids to be part of that if we don’t give them the opportunity? If we are scared for their safety or worried about what’s going to happen to them.
If my children hear the word from their Father, and are called to be somewhere that makes me cry out, “be careful,” then I want to know with confidence that I raised them to trust Him beyond anything that I can give them as their mama. And will I pray for their safety? You bet I will. But what I don’t want for them is to choose a safe life over following Jesus.
Because when we are too concerned about being careful, we miss out on what God is capable of doing through us. Through our kids.
I want to be part of a group of mamas who raise a generation of safety breakers and prayer warriors, those who know their identity and walk in that freedom. Those who see Jesus before they see the problems of the world. Those who refuse to live in fear, but are willing to be light, willing to be wild and free for Jesus.
Who’s with me?