Our children have many normal fears that other children have — fear of the dark, fear of trying new things — plus a few extra fears such as fear of abandonment or fear of dangerous neighbors that children who come from stable families do not have. We have worked extensively and very intentionally with the children with the goal that they literally fear nothing and no one except God.
The other day it dawned on me to try to instill this fearless attitude in the children in a tangible way, so I headed determinedly to our porch and began raising the tire swings two to three feet higher than they had been previously. The kids all came to watch, mouths wide open and with looks of terror on their faces, and they asked why on earth I would do such a thing. I responded confidently, ¨You should fear nothing and no one except God. Don’t fear these tire swings.¨
And I left the scene, watching very intently from a distance as the three remained gathered around the tire swings, each wanting to see if he/she could mount the new challenge but filled with the fear of failing. The oldest and youngest half-heartedly tried, but Gleny backed away from the dreadful thing as if the tire swing itself might come after her and fulfill her moribund expectations. Gleny continued trembling and crying (even though no one was telling her she had to attempt the new challenge) while Diana and Jason tried repeatedly and eventually succeeded, which left the intimidated Gleny not wanting to be left out but still held entirely captive by her fear.
Gleny then approached me as I stood passively removed yet intensely interested, and sobbed, ¨Mom, I can’t do it. Help me! I can’t do it!¨ I said lovingly yet firmly, ¨You can indeed do it. I’m not going to help you. You are letting your fear dominate you.¨ Searching her mind frantically for a resource beyond Mom, light shone in her eyes as she said, ¨I’ll bring a stool!¨ I congratulated her for her creative thinking, and she returned quickly with a plastic kitchen stool to help her mount the seemingly impossible tire swing. Literally quivering, she got up half-way and then fear drove her back to solid ground. After several efforts she at last achieved the goal of mounting — and enjoying rather than dreading— the rush of swinging high in the air.
Later that day as the children passed by the tire swings I overheard them grumble, ¨Ugh, Mom raised the tire swings to teach us not to fear anything but God…¨
And my heart rejoiced.