His body tensed, “I can’t do it. I just can’t.”
Doubts and fears were wreaking havoc on his mind. “I’m not ready. I’m gonna fail.”
Hormones were wreaking havoc on his self-esteem. “I look hideous. Everyone’s going to stare at me.”
It wasn’t just one thing, it was a culmination of many: being overtired, hormone surges, hunger, two tests, and the-ready-for-spring-break-blues. He was hurting, and nothing I said was helping.
We sat in the car and waited for the tide to ebb. Yet his distress only escalated. His fear paralyzed him. He didn’t think he could do it. He didn’t feel able to face his peers, didn’t feel ready to take his tests. He wanted to go home, put his pajamas back on, and retreat to his comfort zone.
I knew that could not happen—not if he was going to grow.
Realizing he was already late, I drove out of the parking lot and headed up the road to the donut shop. He stayed in the car while I went inside and got him some breakfast. He had forgotten to eat, which was certainly not helping his current mood. “Sweetheart, you’ve got to eat something. You will feel a little better, I promise.”
He looked at me with the skeptical eyes of a teenager, but his stomach won the internal fight and he ate. “Why can’t I just go home?”
“Because you have to face this. And you can face this. This is not as bad as it feels right now. You can’t always go by your feelings. Sometimes you just have to trust God to walk with you and know He’s got this.”
His body tensed, “But what if I fail?”
“Well, then you fail. But while you may fail by the school’s standards, but you will have succeeded to me and your dad because you tried. You will have trusted God to get you through this day. Let’s just say that for today, getting out of the car is more important than getting a good grade.”
He took a steadying breath, confusion etched on his face. “Why am I getting so upset?”
“Because you’ve held so much in for so long. Middle school is hard. Everything feels bigger and harder. You are changing from kid to grown-up and that process hurts sometimes. It’s ok to cry. In fact, every once in awhile it’s good to cry and let it out.”
He was breathing normally as we turned back into the school. “I love you,” he whispered.
“Oh my sweet boy, I love you too.”
I stopped the car, put it in park, and turned to face him. “Now…it’s time to just get out of the car and know that God is going with you. You are not alone. You are never alone. God’s got this. He’s got you.”
I watched with pride as little boy merged into young man right before my eyes. He walked into the school, prepared to face his fears.
Tears began to well up in my own eyes as I put the car into drive.
“My sweet daughter,” I heard in my heart, “Now it is your turn. Those fears you have, those doubts that are keeping you frozen in place. You need to give them to me. I am now asking you to just get out of the car and walk with me.”
“But Lord,” I replied, “What if I can’t? What if I fail?”
“You may fail by the world’s standards, but you will have succeeded to me because you tried. Trust me, hold my hand, and go where I lead you. But first, you need to get out of the car, and trust me to go with you.”
“Lord, why am I so scared and upset?”
“Because my precious daughter, you’ve held so much in for so long. This life is hard. Somedays everything just feels bigger and harder. You’re changing from self-focused to Me-focused, and at times that process hurts. It’s ok to cry out to Me. It is good to cry out to Me. I am here for you.”
“I love You,” I whispered through my own tears.
“Oh how I love you my sweet child. Now, it is time to get out of the car and walk with me. Know that you are not alone. You are never alone. I AM with you. I’ve got this. And I’ve got you.”