I have a confession to make. I am absolutely terrified. We just brought our fourth child into this world and I am paralyzed with fear. Just like with all of my other kids, I spent the last 9 months pretending my wife wasn’t pregnant (something she does not appreciate, I can assure you). My charade has ended and now I have no choice but to face my fear. For the 7 years we have been married, we have been building our family and I have successfully ignored the fear during that time. Over the last month or so it has tried to creep into my mind as I have stayed up reading in my bed while my wife was tossing and turning uncomfortably next to me (probably scared to death as well), but I would push it out of my mind and delve deeper into my book. Sometimes it would try breaking in while I was driving, sitting at church, or bored in some meeting, but I would just focus my thoughts on somebody else’s problems and how I could solve them, or focus on fixing something at work. No matter how it tried to enter my consciousness over the past months, I would ignore or reject it and now it is being released in full force.
I have been jokingly calling this the “Finish Line” because this is our last child. The doctors made certain of that, after the 4th C-section for my wife, with a few twirls and twists of their tools. So now, after ignoring it for so long I am staring my fear in the face. We have 4 beautiful, loving, kind, innocent souls (Ben, Allie, Noah, and now Ethan) thrust into this world with their guides and teachers being my wife and I. I honestly don’t know what to do. I am really good at pretending I do and I certainly have tried my best so far. Ben is so loving and kind and trustworthy. Allie is so adventurous and witty and fun to be around. Noah is so energetic and smart and strong willed. I look at it now and think most of that was probably part of their character before they ever came here. It would be nice to think we had raised them like that, but if I am honest I don’t know how much of that is true. The questions overwhelm me. How strict should I be? What kinds of things should be my focus? Which gospel truths are the most important to teach? How do I teach them the truths? They are all so different and how do I reach them? I want them to be good at school, at every sport, at every video game and why won’t they listen to me when I am trying to show them how? I don’t want them to love the things of the world, but I love many of them and still love God, so how do I help them balance that or should I just shelter them? I want them to be independent and close to God on their own, but I also don’t want to give them justification to rebel against God for the sake of learning, so how do I do it? I want them to be well educated and successful in their financial pursuits, but I really don’t think that is the key to happiness; I don’t want them to be lazy, and I also don’t want them to ignore relationships and love for the sake of being successful and rich, so what do I do? The questions are never ending.
The fear mounts even as I write this and think about all the things that I will do to screw my kids up. I know, I know, there are many things that I will do great and because I love them and will always love them, they will probably be ok in the end, but that doesn’t make my fear any less. I look at God and how he has always adjusted and changed how He has dealt with us and the pure complexity of His interactions with mankind and womankind is incomprehensible. So using Him as my example makes me even more scared. I have a hard time changing my mind and making adjustments on when and where I want to eat let alone how to interact with my children. I wonder how He deals with the constant disappointment and sadness that he must feel when we reject the right way and travel into unknown paths that hurt us the rest of our lives. I’m sure knowing the beginning from the end makes it easier for him Him but Enoch says that God weeps and so I know it still hurts him.
My fear isn’t from lack of preparation. I know all the right things to say, and I even have a real solid plan for parenting my kids. You can ask anyone who knows me, I probably seem to have (or think I have) all the right answers and sometimes when I am lying to myself I really think I do. I have studied it and thought about it and prayed about it and fasted about it and will keep doing so the rest of my life. Having my kids be happy, God loving, people loving, everything loving, successful, accomplished, smart, funny, peacemaking, and overall awesome people is without question the thing I want most in this world. I think I could debate and articulate the best way to raise kids with anyone, but I have seen enough people in this life to know how bad they can get screwed up by their parents; even the most well intentioned and righteous ones. It is terrifying and what makes it worse is that I also know we aren’t supposed to know the best way to do it, if there even is a best way. We are supposed to humble ourselves before the Lord, look for help and do our best and hope for the best. That is scary for me. I will admit that my fear is partially because of the pride that makes me a control freak. Sometimes I feel like I can do anything, accomplish anything, and make anything happen the way I think it should.
This is the great paradox of my life. I have no choice but to submit. I am too terrified to try it on my own. I have to give up my control, my knowledge, my confidence in my own ways and I need to really come to the Lord in the most humble of ways and ask for his help and guidance. Then I have to trust that He will guide me along the way and hopefully use the things I have learned to help me, but if not I will need to learn new things. My beautiful amazing children, so innocent and so in need of me, are the catalyst to bring me to the place I needed to be all along. The altar of sacrifice kneeling before God. They are forcing me to submit my will to God because I desperately need His help. It is scary and I think it is meant to be scary, but I think this is what life is for and there are some scriptures that lead me to believe this is what I need to do:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Ether 12:27
Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God. Helaman 3:35
I love my wife and my kids and I love being their husband and father. I hope in my love and in trying to be humble I can help them somehow manage their way through this life and turn into all those awesome things I want for them. I am really scared but I do trust God and trust in His love and plan. Sometimes being scared is lonely, but I do have solace in that there are a lot of wonderful people in this world, and my guess is that their parents (maybe even Heavenly Parents) were scared too.