A couple of things have been rolling around in my head and heart the last couple of days and I have been contemplating how they come together. I don't profess to be the best or most inspiring writer, but this is what has come to me. Someone on facebook brought up the question of fear vs. faith, especially as it relates to having a child with (the risk of) serious medical conditions. How do you balance vigilance and fear and faith that God is in control. As mothers we are the ones who know our children the best and can see if things seem off and we should not discount this. God created this in us when He designed us to be mothers. And when your child has something like Down syndrome (or in the case of my dear friend, severe immune suppression and 5 transplanted organs) you know some of the increased risks that come along with it. And they are scary and they are real. I've been there. Reagan had open heart surgery at six months old and it just about killed me. And every time she gets blood work done I wonder will this be the time, the time when the numbers are wonky and we have to face more fears. Some people will tell you that fear is not of God, that you need to give it up. Personally I think that is hurtful hogwash. Fear is real and fear is valid. It is what you do with the fear that matters. I think a good way to think of it is do you live in fear or do you live with fear? If you live in fear then the fear is ruling your life, your choices, your perspective, and there is no room for God's peace or His plan. If you live with fear then you are human. And God can use the fear for His plan...to help you spot a problem, to grow you, to teach you compassion. I come back to what my mother reminded me the night that Reagan was born. We were faced with overwhelming, debilitating fear, not because we thought Reagan had Down syndrome but because of what it meant to her health right then. We were frozen in the inability to move in what we thought was right because of the fear of what might happen if we were wrong. And my mother gave me this verse. "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind" (2 Tim 1:7) Not that we will not fear....but we do not have a spirit of fear. We have power...wisdom from God, strength to do what needs to be done and face what challenges we are given. We have love...from God, for our children. We have a sound mind...that God has given us to use in judging our circumstances. Where is your fear? Is is pulling at your ankles and dragging you down into the quicksand of horrible possibilities, keeping you from moving forward? Or is it peeping over your shoulder when you come up against the hard realities of life?
The girls and I were driving to choir practice on a stormy afternoon the other day and we chased a rainbow (a double one) entire way. It was stunning. And it sparked lots of commentary from the back seat. One comment being a six year old's proud explanation that the rainbow was God's promise never to flood the Earth again. That stuck in my head as I was pondering the spirit of fear. And I realized that yes, the Bible tells us that God set the rainbow as a promise.....we've all heard the story a hundred times....but it suddenly occurred to me that the rainbow isn't only a promise not to flood the Earth or bring destruction to all mankind...it is really a promise of His goodness, grace and mercy...of His enduring Love and presence. It is a visible reminder of Jesus' words to us "I am with you, always" (Matt 28:20). And that is what I cling to when fear tries to grab my ankles and suck me down....I will chase that rainbow.
One last thing. As I was contemplating this post I read this story about an amazing mother and woman of faith who lives with very real fear on a daily basis and I think she has mastered chasing the rainbow in a way that will bring you to tears and inspire you. Go read it and be blessed.