Sorry about that title.
This article probably won’t help you much when it comes to child safety.
Because, frankly, for the past seven years, I have learned one important lesson from the internet and the news: children die out there.
There are the obvious fears that we face as parents: cancer, drowning, strangulation, suffocation, choking, car accidents, being ran over, accidental shootings, targeted shootings…
but in case we weren’t scared enough already, there’s also all of the obscure stuff out there that makes the rounds on Facebook and 24-hour news channels like wildfire: secondary drowning, sandhole collapses, brain-eating amoebas in pond water, etc., etc., etc.
Every possible way in which a child was harmed or has died is cataloged and published and shared and you’re sitting there zoned out in front of your computer reading about it like a slumped-over toad (because isn’t that what we all look like while we’re on the computer?), but on the inside this scream of hysteria is building in your throatal regions because your greatest fear – losing this little piece of you that you love so fiercely – is being described in another harrowing tale, and even worse, in a new horrible way that you never even dreamed of!!!
A sandhole collapse on the beach?
The water and the sharks weren’t scary enough?
Or the pedophiles?
Now we’re dealing with sand, too?!
Please, please, PLEASE don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of being prepared, and I am so grateful to the brave mothers who shared their stories to inform us of potential dangers that might threaten our children.
But you know what I don’t love?
Adding fear to my fear.
Adding worry to my worry.
Adding terrifying tableaux to my suitcase of worst-case scenarios.
I had so many of those already.
And now, I’m not only a wreck as I watch my kids swim, paranoid that I won’t see the nearly undetectable signs of drowning…
now I’m watching them for hours afterward to make sure they are not secondarily drowning…
and my mama-sized panic is compounding and I’m thinking crazy little somethings like this...
You know, Rebekah got some water in her nose and choked for a while. I read that the symptoms of secondary drowning are lethargy and sluggishness. But…my kids just swam for seven hours and now they’re all sacked out like corpses in the living room…what if she is drowning right now??? Should I wake her up? I know I’m being crazy. But…what if I’m wrong and its too late?!..
Sometimes, when I’m not panicking in the midst of all these potential dangers, toils and snares, I can’t help but reminisce about my carefree childhood in Oklahoma where my best friend and I could go meandering down our remote gravel road, sticking our feet in the creek, playing alone in the barn, going swimming in the pond…
you know what?
My kids don’t know that life.
Because, six years ago, two girls were shot and killed while meandering down an Oklahoma country road very similar to the one that I used to frequent.
Gravel roads haven’t looked safe since.
And there are snakes in the creek.
And there could be deadly amoebas in the pond.
And there could be sex offenders near the barn.
And that’s just the beginning.
They can’t drink out of the waterhose. That’s toxic.
If the baby falls asleep in his carseat, we should wake him up after we bring him inside because nine babies died from sleeping in carseats this year (by the way, why is this article all over Facebook right now when it was written in 2006?!).
Oh! And speaking of Baby Shepherd, OH MY GOSH, there is a balloon next to him and it must be popped and discarded of because if a baby even touches a balloon, they could inhale it and choke to death!!!
And sorry, this is off the subject a bit, but did you know that having a child blow out the candles on a birthday cake is a great carrier for germs?
(not to mention their hair could catch on fire).
I’m freaking out here.
Again, I sincerely don’t want to be misunderstood: my point is not that it is bad to be informed.
Information is good.
Warnings are great.
Education is a gift.
And you’d better believe that if something tragic happened to my child that I could help others to avoid, I would do everything I could to get the word out.
My point has nothing to do with the information, really…
and everything to do with what we DO with the information.
How do we respond when we read these warnings?
Do they make us paranoid?
Do they chew up our bellies with fear?
Do they cause us to imagine the worst?
Do they make us feel helpless?
These kinds of responses are red flags, and they are scarier than pond water, because they belie a problem that is deeply rooted within us, a problem that is as old as time and feels impossible to shake…
We don’t trust God.
We want to BE God.
And, deep down, we hope that if we do this and avoid that and plan for this that nothing bad will happen to our children, ever.
All of which point to a most unbiblical conclusion…
we think that the only hope for our children is us.
And that is how the simple act of reading internet articles can be a diving board that catapults us into very dangerous waters; cataloging every possible death trap and fearing every single worst-case scenario, we subconsciously trample upon every word the Bible says about God’s sovereignty, about His goodness, about His will, and about His calling.
Through our fear and helplessness, we discard the scriptures that we so vocally uphold, saying aloud “Yes, Lord! You are so good and ‘I surrender all’ and ‘have thine own way’ and all those Christiany things I’m supposed to say” while our hearts are kind of screaming “YOU AREN’T BIG ENOUGH, GOD, AND YOU DON’T CARE ENOUGH”.
If you think that sounds like an exaggeration, consider how the article about secondary drowning receives our rapt attention while God-breathed texts like Romans 8 gather dust on our bedside table…
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Did you hear that?
This is just one tiny excerpt from a book that is TEEMING with hope.
Hope for me.
Hope for my kids.
And while those ancient words may not contain step-by-step instructions for keeping my kids alive, they provide so much more, a bountiful feast of peace and truth for my fearful soul…
a wellspring of beautiful principles that my starving and terrified heart devours.
God is in control.
God is good.
God does everything for my good.
God created my kids.
God loves my kids more than I do.
God has a plan for me that will bring Him glory.
Nothing can separate me from the love of God.
I am in Christ, and my children can be trusted to Him.
There are greater things to fear than death.
Granted, the Bible makes no promise that all of my safety- and wellness-centered prayers for my children will be answered; in fact, most passages of comfort in the Word were written to a people who were enduring suffering like many of us have never seen.
It is inevitable: every person dies and no one is exempt from pain and sadness.
But when I read the Word, it helps me to breathe.
It realigns my heart with a truth that I cannot inwardly deny.
It stamps a purpose and a hope upon even my worst-case scenarios.
And it reminds me that this life isn’t even the one I’m supposed to be living for, anyway, and that, if God would be so gracious, I have eternity to spend with each of my most-beloved children.
So yes, let’s read and share all the articles and take the precautions as we slather on the suncreen and zip up the sleepsacks and fasten the safety helmets and cut up the grapes and mince the hot dogs and AVOID ALL WATER, PERIOD…
but let’s also stop living as if there is no God.
After all, there is really nothing more toxic, hazardous, poisonous or dangerous than that.
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