Thursday, March 21, 2013

Respond with Love, not Fear

By Phoebe Farag Mikhail

After contemplating my evening with my toddler and deciding he was having too much screen time this winter, I resolved to try to take him for a walk with me in the morning, to connect with him and enjoy some much needed fresh air.

And then I got the phone call. A young woman from my church congregation was hit by a car while crossing the street, and instantly killed.

After some time weeping from the shock, and then mourning for her and her family’s pain, my gut reaction, of course, was to look at my sound asleep children and vow to never let them out of the house again. 

Fear characterized my response, and I knew right away it was wrong. It brought to memory my husband’s words to me, when he saw me curled up on our sofa in tears after hearing the news of the Newtown massacre.

“Phoebe, what were their parents going to do – not send them to school?”

Their parents sent their children to school because they loved them. They wanted their children to learn and to grow and to make new friends. And most of the parents in Newtown, Connecticut (and most other places in the world) will continue to send their children to school, despite their fears, because they love them*.

This young woman’s family needs all the prayer and support we can muster. If I love them I will do what I can, and I will not avoid them out of fear of my own emotions. I need to respond to them with love, not fear.

My son needs to take walks with me, to talk and use his expanding vocabulary, to smell the fresh air, observe the world, and exercise.  If I love my son I will do these things for him out of love. I need to respond to him with love, not fear.

With an aching heart I pray for this young woman’s family and friends and offer them the comfort that I can. With a trembling heart I acknowledge that yes, such a tragedy could strike any one of my children, and no, I cannot control it. With a loving heart I try to let go of my fears and do the things that will help my children flourish, despite all the scary possibilities connected to the simple act of crossing the street, or going to school. 

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." I John 4:18 (NKJV)

* Some parents may have decided to home school their children, and, knowing the sacrifices they must make to do so, are also responding out of love.  Very few parents are simply preventing their children all contact with the world – that would be a response of fear.