So in Zanzibar we celebrate ten years and Murray says he thinks we need a verse for the next ten.
A vision to hold us.
Like, knowing everything’s going to be ok because we’re heading home from the beach with ice-creams.
He says he feels the next ten years are about staying the course. Digging ourselves into the prayer trenches. We’ll parent from toddlers to teenagers in ten quick years and what happens in this next decade – it’s the big thing. We need to be heart-soul-mind-strength present on purpose.
We mustn’t – must not – drop our ice-creams in the sand.
We settle on Galatians 6:9 –
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
I laminate it and stick it on our bedroom mirror – ’cause I’m kind of cheesy like that –
And all hell breaks loose.
Five courses of antibiotics are consumed by this family of four in less than ten days. There are staph infections and spider bites and recurring bouts of flu and Scott decides one night to shave his legs. It doesn’t end well. There are publishing curveballs and infuriating Wi-Fi connectivity lapses. We have toast and tantrums for breakfast most mornings and tears at teatime on long hot difficult afternoons and I watch the days melt like so much mess of caramel swirl. There are insecurities and intimidations that really I should have dealt with by now. Well-meaning threats from those who cling too tight. Like, give them a lick and they take the whole ice-cream.
But our Scott turns four this week so I’m savouring what’s left of chubby baby days like last drips of sticky from Friday afternoon ice-creams on the kitchen step. I’m celebrating him and his soft heart heading brave into Big Boy.
And I want to say to him and mostly to me:
Don’t be afraid.
Scott sang me his fruit of the Spirit memory verse this week. And I remembered what a friend had said, that, ‘Satan doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. So he doesn’t have the fruit. Patience is one of the fruit. So he’s not patient. Eventually, he will give up. You have the Holy Spirit. So you have the fruit. Patience is one of the fruit. Be patient.’
I want to say to my Scott,
Don’t be afraid to feel. And forgive. And ask forgiveness.
He asks me one night from the bath, ‘Mom, how’s it going in your heart with Jesus?’ I want him to keep asking. I want him to understand that sin breaks relationships. That we need to keep on finding each other in the soft strong circles of mercy. That no matter how violent and sweaty the tantrums that he and I others throw – we need to keep asking the hard questions. Keep feeling. Keep forgiving. Keep asking forgiveness.
I want to tell my boy,
Don’t be afraid to try.
At the school carnival the water slide is way higher than his assessment of the fun-factor. He leans into me reticent – but in the end he does it. Just once. And just once is enough because he sobs scared and startled.
And I want to say to him that he doesn’t have to love everything in life. He doesn’t have to love crowds and noise and new things. But sometimes he has to slide anyway. Try. At least once. And I will be cheering proud from the side, hoping to be splashed by some of his courage.
I want to say,
Don’t be afraid to lead.
He stands up in the trolley as I pile groceries around his feet – fist pumps the air and tells me jubilant, ‘I learning at school ‘cause I going to be a leader!’
Murray tells me he’s convinced God is doing something big – with boys – in this generation. And I think how it’s the leaders who are mostly filled with fear. Because it can be terrifying out front. Pushing. Back. Boundaries.
And I want to encourage this little one to face his fears – not shrink easy from challenge or discomfort. Because those who make the greatest advances face the greatest fears. Those who are afraid are likely living on the edge – which is the most fertile place to cultivate faith.
So I want to tell him,
Keep scooping the ice-cream. Out of the sand, if necessary.
And don’t be afraid.
. . .
This is Scott singing his fruit of the Spirit memory verse this week:
Thanks for reading today. It’s seriously wonderful to share the journey with you. Please feel free to leave a comment, or share this with a friend who is facing fears. I’ll keep you posted with the final launch date of Dragons and Dirt. You can sign up to receive these posts by email, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” Daniel 10:19