Until very recently, my kids had no fear of the dark. But–suddenly–here we are. Every night when the light goes out, they are both afraid.
Of course, being a little bit modern, I feel the need to conquer their fears on their behalf. So, I ask questions. My initial questions are not very good, I confess. They are the guilt-inducing type. Questions like, “What are you afraid of?” (Answers: Monsters, scary men, men with lisps, yep men with lisps, thanks to an ill-advised episode of Voltron. Side note: I never really watched Voltron in the 80s, more of a Transformers kid. Moral of the story, don’t let your kids watch a show you didn’t watch without figuring out if there’s a scary man with a lisp. You probably already knew that. My wife reminded me that she did.) Questions like, “Don’t you think mom and dad will take care of you?”
But as the issue progresses, (And it progresses. Turns out dark comes every night.) I think I am getting better at it.
I think part of my improvement has come from realizing I am scared of things too. My kids are scared of the dark because they feel they do not know what might be lurking. I am afraid of different things–often for the same reason. I’m afraid of things like job changes and car trouble and church upheaval and failure and success. I’m afraid of those things because I feel like I do not know what might be lurking.
It’s not a known bogey-man that I fear. It’s the idea that there could be a bogey-man lurking that I don’t know. And that can be terrifying.
Why shouldn’t it be scary for my kids?
The great thing is, my answers are getting better, too. Believers have a story, a story of the ultimate bogey-man being defeated by the best king. That battle is already fought. It doesn’t remove all the little bogey-men who may afflict us. That part remains unknown. But we do know the ending. It’s joyful, happy, and complete. That’s the story my kids need to be grounded in. It’s the story of our lives.