I secretly stalk my son. I admit it, I do. I don’t think he knows but maybe he suspects as he feels the eyes boring into the back of his head. This stalking began at the instigation of my husband who rightfully insists that our son, now 6 years old, be allowed to play by himself in the backyard. It’s a safe backyard with a high fence and lots of room to play and the requisite interesting neatly stacked heap of wood outside the garage. Dreamland for a boy who has been cooped up for a lot of a very cold winter. I didn’t think I would be a stalker. I grew up on a farm and spent most of my days, winter and summer, outside. My mom said that she knew to come looking if the dog came back without us. It was a free and easy life. But despite this kind of upbringing once I had kids I turned into a stalker. My son is allowed to play outside by himself with the cautionary tales about what to do if a stranger comes into the back yard. This does not prevent me from peeking out the windows at the back of the house about every 5 minutes (hence the stalking). The dog is back there with him to sound the alarm if someone comes into the backyard and I keep just the screen door closed to the deck so I can hear him at any time. Yes, I am a stalker.
What makes me do this? It isn’t the inherent carelessness of kids that makes them wander and forget that anyone or anything else exists except the joy of their own play. It is partially due to the fear that all those horrible kidnapping stories on the news will come true in my life. It is lack of trust in all the protective hedges I have put around him to keep this precious child of mine safe. Outwardly I don’t think I come across as a crazy person; in many things I’m pretty laid-back. But, the biggest fears in my life come into play when it comes to my family.
It’s fear, plain and simple. Fear of loss, fear that I can’t protect them, fear of the unknown and the evil found in the world. This blog is about living in good and healthy fear of God but what I experience that prompts me to spy on my playing son isn’t that kind of healthy fear. There are verses in the Bible that tell us not to fear, that God is with us. But, like many other people I’m sure, fear creeps into my life on a daily basis.
Proverbs 31:21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. (NIV)
This woman who fears the Lord and allows that knowledge to change her seems to have no fear at all. I don’t imagine that there is any person that has ever lived without fear in their lives. At the time this woman was living fear may mean fear of war, fear of famine, fear of losing her husband and children. If she lost her husband and children, if she was left widowed she would be penniless and relying on the kindness of family and strangers. Her children would be the people to care for her in her old age and make sure she did not spend her remaining years destitute and hopeless. I’d stalk my children too if I was her. That knowledge combined with intense mother love for my children might cause me to make them wear helmets on a regular basis and three snowsuits even in summer, for the padding, you know.
But, verse 21 says she has no fear for her household. I have fear for mine, daily fear, so what is God trying to tell me here? When I look deeper I see that this verse is talking about physical provision for her family. Having her household clothed in scarlet can mean a couple of things. It can imply that the family is clothed in wool (because of the color) or the Latin version says they are clothed in double (meaning doubled fabric = very warm). Either way, it means that when winter comes her family is protected and provided for.
Now, I do keep my family warm, I hope, but I think this verse is more than just taking care of the family physically. When I look at this verse I see a woman who looks at her family and knows that they are taken care of. As a mother and wife there is only so much that I can do to care for my family. There are times when I’m not with them, when I can’t protect them like I would want. There are going to be things that my children go through, hurts, slights, disappointments that I am powerless to protect them from. These are the snowy times in life, I guess. These times of hardship where you know that only time will heal. How does this woman who fears the Lord not dread these times?
I think this verse is a reminder to me that my care for my family is limited but God’s is not. When I see my son playing in the backyard I try to remember that God loves this child more than I ever could. That God has told me not to fear because his eye is on me and my family. My scope in controlling what happens to my son is limited, which I think is healthy. Sometimes we hold too tightly and when our grip loosens things spin out of control because they’ve been restrained and the pressure has built. Know any 18 year olds that has happened with?
If I am a woman who is seeking God and seeking to respond to who he is, this type of fear has little place in that. This verse says that the hard times, the winters will come, but if we can look around we can see how God is covering and holding our families in the palm of his hand. Because of who God is I can trust that he sees what I do not see, cares more than I can care, and provides for us even in times of hardship. So when I fear and peek out the window at my child I try to see his joy in his freedom and his space. I try to see how God is rejoicing in him and I take a deep breath and promise not to peek again for at least another 5 minutes.