I know I've been away from Florida long enough when I see lighting and hear thunder and think about how weird it is, how long it's been since I've seen/heard/felt them. It also brings a peace, an "I'm home" feeling.
Thunderstorms in this Ohio valley are far different from the ones in Florida. For one, storms in Florida last about 20-30 minutes in the spring and summer, leaving you with warm sunshine and thick humidity the rest of the day. Here they last all day. The thunder is also different. The thunder rumbles longer. We are surrounded by mountains. The thunder will roar its sound, and the sound echoes over and over.
We had a thunderstorm as Cooper was going to bed one evening. As I was walking out of Cooper's bedroom, I heard him.
Mom, I'm scared of the thunder.
I turned around, knelt down next to him, grabbed and brushed his hand with mind. "Cooper, the Bible tells us over and over again 'Don't be afraid, for I am with you, Don't be afraid for I and with you, Don't be afraid for I am with you.' Who's always with us?"
He pointed to his belly. (Jesus lives in us, and to Cooper, that means his belly.)
And who is that?
"Right. We don't ever have to be afraid because Jesus and God are always with us. And God is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than anything and anyone, ever. And he will protect us. He has given us our house to protect us from the rain and thunder tonight."
...which when into a quick discussion about why our house protects us from thunderstorms...
I then told Cooper about how some people say the sound of thunder is God playing bowling in heaven, which made him smile.
Then I reiterated: "You don't have to be afraid tonight. Jesus is with you."
Another brush of the hand, a kiss on the forehead, and I headed downstairs. This time with a prayer, "Lord, may he be brave, bold, and courageous because he has You. Help us light his path to You."
. . .
The next afternoon, we had another conversation.
Mom, when I'm seven I'll go to pretty school, right?
"No, bub. You'll go to pre-school in September. That's just a few months from now and you will be four. "
No, I'm talking about pretty school. When will I go to pretty school?
(Thinking: you don't ever need to take pretty school...you are as handsome as they come...)
"Pretty school isn't a thing. It's called pre-school. You'll go to preschool, then kindergarten, then 1st grade...and I spoke all the grades to 12th grade. Then guess what? You'll graduate and go to college and you'll move away. You'll be on your own!"
Tears came immediately.
Fear consumed his face.
Fear consumed his face.
"But I don't want to be on my own."
Don't worry, that's not until you're 18. It's a long time from now. And if you decide you want to stay home, you can. But remember what we talked about last night? You're never alone. You'll never be alone.
He leaned into me for a hug.
And another prayer was uttered. "Lord, may he learn to give his fears to you. May he choose to walk into the unknown when he's 18. May he be confident and trusting in you."
How do you help your children overcome their fears? I'm not sure of the best answer to this question, being only 4 years into the whole parenting gig. However, I'm confident the answer lies in turning him to Jesus every time.
Cooper, I hope and pray that one day you embrace the life you can have with Jesus. A life where you can walk into unknown situations with confidence. A life where you can tackle your fears. A life where you can be bold, brave, and courageous. Jesus can give you all these things. You just have to let Him. I pray than when you're old enough to understand it all, you let Him. -Mom.