Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Fear VS. Know Fear (This Is Not a Mash-Up)


It's official: my son has been embarrassed by his dad.

It's hard to believe, being the ultra-cool person that I am. And, he won't admit that he's embarrassed. He won't tell me that another kid made fun of him for his dad walking him to his classroom every day, or for giving me hugs right before he enters. But, I'm pretty sure that's what happened: he asked me to not walk him to his classroom door.

His reason was that he was a big boy now, and that he doesn't need me to walk by him. So, maybe he's not mortified by our school hall walks, maybe some kid didn't make a comment, maybe he just wants to do something by himself, but still, the separation begins.

And I'm thrilled.

I'm not thrilled by his embarrassment (which will become worse as time wears on, I know), but I am excited about his independence. I was a pretty clingy kid, was almost scared of my shadow in grade school, and disliked most social aspects of school. My fear was almost irrational at times, like Bart Simpson worried that his the clown on the headboard of his bed would eat him while he slept. I do not want my son to be like me in this respect (but I'm also not going to buy him a clown bed!) Fear can be crippling, and if his skateboard riding is any indication, he'll be re-breaking bones in no time, which is a crippling emanating from not having enough fear!

Fear can also be good. There is healthy fear, the kind that keeps us from driving recklessly, the kind that helps us understand the power of God, even the kind that encourages us to obey our parents instead of receiving discipline. But those kinds of fears, if they can even be called fears, are really fears borne out of protection and self-preservation. All those "No Fear" t-shirts had it wrong, and for once, the Christian parody t-shirts had it right: there should be some fear, directed to the right place, and we should know it.

The founder of the "No Fear" brand died at age 49 from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. The impetus seems to have been that he was in great pain stemming from motorcycle accident injuries. It's hard to say whether or not the lifestyle promoted by the brand had anything to do with the way he died. Most would draw that conclusion, but I won't. I didn't know the man or his beliefs. What I will say is that he is a good example of what drive and ambition can do. But introspection and fear both have their place as well, but they don't get a lot of press. It's not nearly as cool to put that on T-shirts.

My dad used to have friend who called him "fearless". I'm not sure exactly why. But I remember wondering how that could be possible, how someone could have no fear, especially when I was so fearful. I'd see my dad do things like climbing up on roofs and think, "I could never do that". As I get older, I'm gravitating more toward my dad's nickname. There isn't much that scares me. Going to hell probably scares me the most. Not seeing my heavenly Father and residing with Him forever is on that list as well. I really don't want to miss it. I don't want to get my eternal destination wrong. I am afraid of the one who can throw both body and soul into hell. And that's okay. That's how it should be.

And for my son, too, do I want to see him have a healthy fear of God. And a healthy fear that keeps him out of arm and leg casts. But, I want him to have the balance that I felt like I didn't have when I was his age. He shouldn't be afraid to try new things, even knowing that there might be some danger. He should take calculated risks because, after all, that's what faith is, knowing about the possibility of something greater, even if you don't have concrete proof. After all, concrete can be as much of a faith buster as it is an arm buster.

So, I'm glad he's going to his classroom by himself. Soon, (but not too soon) it will be all about driving to new places, meeting new people, and taking bigger chances. Sometimes, possibly, his fear of God, his healthy fear and understanding of the power of God, will prompt him to push out of the nest, and take calculated risks. And when he does, his daddy will be so proud.

Applicable Scripture passages:
Matthew 10:28
Genesis 22:1-19
Deuteronomy 6:24; 10:20
Job 1
Acts 10:34-36

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