I felt like an idiot crying my ever-lovin’ head off in my kitchen. Thank God no one was home.
What is wrong with me? I cried out, startling the dog from her nap.
I kept staring at the text that had just come through letting me know it was time to schedule my son’s behind the wheel driver’s ed class. I had read the words and then lost it. The weight of a hidden fear I have carried for years erupting like an emotional volcano.
A fear that had begun as a dream….When my son was only two, I had a dream that he was driving our car and crashed. In my dream, I ran to his lifeless little body, sprawled out on the road.
Awful right?! (welcome to my nightmares!)
It was so awful and a dream that has stayed with me ever since. A dream I never told anyone about. And a dream that fueled a fear that I would allow to simmer until that day in my kitchen.
But that day as I stared at my phone I had to confront that fear. And it was hard. I cried. I yelled. I stomped. And I totally freaked out our poor dog!
“God, ask me to write 100 more books,” I pleaded, “but please don’t ask me to let my son drive!!”
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I had a full on temper tantrum with God for about thirty minutes. But then, when all my tears were spent and all my emotion laid bare, I quieted.
I took a deep breath.
And I surrendered.
I surrendered my perceived control for God’s full control.
I submitted my fears to His Sovereign will.
And I committed my child to his heavenly Father’s plan.
It was hard, but at the end of my emotional torrent, I meant every word.
For years I have been anxious of letting my son drive. For years I have feared having to let go. And for years I have tried to shove those feelings and fears down, pretending all was well.
But that day as my lack of control could no longer be denied, I remembered something—a fundamental truth I have preached and taught and shared with others, but a truth I had somehow forgotten to apply to myself: the need to allow yourself to grieve.
From my time as a grief counselor, I saw firsthand the importance of taking time to grieve. Those who did the painful work of grief—remembering, weeping, allowing themselves to feel anger, allowing themselves to simply experience the feelings—would eventually heal. They would always bear a scar, but the open wound would heal. But those who tried to shove the grief down, tried to hide the pain or ignore the wound, would carry that wound with them for the rest of their lives.
Maybe because I have worked with children for so long, I tend to put important things I want to remember into rhymes. And because I saw firsthand how important it is to let yourself grieve I put that principle into this rhyme:
Feel and deal and one day you’ll heal. But stow and go and one day you’ll blow.
And yet so true!
As I dried my tears that day in the kitchen, I felt lighter than I had in years. I had finally allowed myself to feel and deal with my fears—and to feel and deal with the fact that my baby is getting older and the childhood clock is running out.
I have loved being a mom to small children, and even though I love my older kids and find that this stage of parenting is pretty awesome too, I finally realized that I needed to allow myself to feel the loss of the little kid stage, and the perceived control it afforded me.
So much of parenting involves an aspect of grief, doesn’t it? It seems weird to write that, but yet as our children enter a new stage, it means the loss of the one before. And while for some stages that is great! For others it is painful.
I think as parents maybe we need to let ourselves feel and deal a little more, something that is getting harder and harder in this crazy busy world that demands our full attention and constantly has us on the go.
But I know the peace that flooded my heart that day in my kitchen was a result of pouring out my fears and my feelings to the One who knows my heart and invites me to share the burden of my fears, my feelings, and my pain.
Do you need to cry out to God today? Is there a pain or a fear you have been trying to ignore or hide? He awaits with loving arms open to you (even if you come to Him in the midst of a big ol’ adult temper tantrum!) And as you feel and deal in His arms ask Him reveal His love and goodness to you.
Fear is a natural part of parenting, and yet, by continually taking those fears to God and laying Him at His feet, we can live and parent free from fear (even when letting our kid get behind the wheel of a car!!)
Praying for all of us who are wrestling with fear today (and especially for all mamas of driving children!)