Summer is a season of wonderful things. Swimming. Summer break. Vacations.
While I love spending time outdoors, I do not love the ticks that seems to hitch a ride home when you leave the woods. I’m on constant tick alert all summer.
A few years ago, I shared with my young son that I had found a tick in my underwear in the middle of the night. I was totally freaked out. His face looked shocked and he was silent for several moments. Finally, he said in a serious tone, “If you think you were freaked out, Mom, just imagine how tortured that poor tick felt being stuck in your underwear all night. He was crawling for dear life!”
There it is, folks. Perspective.
I laugh every time I think about that moment. It’s honest feedback from a 10-year-old, but there is also wisdom in his words. It’s not wisdom about my underwear or even ticks. It’s about seeing the world from a different point of view and helping others to understand that the lens in which you view the world is not the only perspective. It’s yours and it may be valid, but there are plenty of other viewpoints and journeys.
This is why I love the honesty of kids. There are times I’ve had to pull the car over because I’ve been laughing so hard at something my kids said. It comes out unfiltered and humorous.
Unfortunately, there’s also times when the honesty hits a little too close to home — like when my son said hugging me is like holding a big ol’ fluffy cloud. Operation “Mom Needs to Not Have a Stomach Like a Big Ol’ Fluffy Cloud” started immediately at the gym (though I’m still a little fluffy in the spirit of full transparency).
While I wish I could say I’m brave like that tick in my underwear or brutally honest like my kids talking about clouds, I spend a lot of my time afraid. I’m especially afraid of all the what ifs. What if something bad happens to my kids? What if we are in over our heads financially? What if my measles vaccine from 30 years ago is no longer effective? What if I have to say goodbye to the people I love most in this world? What if, what if, what if … it’s paralyzing some days.
There are a lot of things I’m still learning about my faith, but the one thing I know for sure is this: God does not want us to live afraid. He doesn’t want us to stay huddled in the corner, desperately clutching our what ifs, when this big and beautiful world is waiting for us.
God also doesn’t want us to withhold our love from others, but to give it freely away. He certainly doesn’t want us to be frozen by guilt or shame. Own those mistakes, make amends, and move on. That’s so much easier said than done, isn’t it?
This summer, I really want to tackle fear. In the face of ticks and all the other things that scare me, I want to feel God’s love more abundantly than I fear my what ifs. When I’m stuck, or maybe even crawling for dear life out of the dark, I’ll whisper to myself, “Be not afraid. Be not afraid. Be not afraid.”
I am not alone. I’ve got the best company ever on this journey (and I’m definitely not talking about the ticks!).