With five kids, it’s a virtual lock that at least one of them will have some issue at bedtime.
That’s typically when the guards come down a bit, the sadness emerges, the stories get told or the fear pokes out from under the bed.
Even though our wish is that bedtime will last about 12 seconds, it’s never that way.
It’s much more like hand to hand combat than bubble baths and cuddles like it used to be.
One of them is wrestling through some deep fear about bedtime. Fearful about a break-in. Fearful about a sibling leaving that room for another room. Fearful about it being too dark or too whatever. Fearful about ghosts.
Some rational fears, some totally irrational.
That’s the tricky thing about fear. It all feels the same. Even if it’s not true. Especially if it’s not true.
As a 12-ish year-old boy, I remember lying in bed, terrified. My room sat directly above an exterior door we had at the foot of our deck.
On windy nights, the doorjamb wasn’t perfectly sealed, so it would rattle a bit. Almost like someone trying to determine if it was open, jiggling the handle.
I KNEW it was the wind. Because I’d check that door before bed.
But it sure felt like a break-in. Or the boogie man.
My room would be the first one they’d find. I’d be the first victim. They’d grab me and no one would ever know.
It was the wind.
And I knew it. But it didn’t change my feeling of terror.
I told that story to our kiddo the other night, when we were working through their own fear.
“Why doesn’t God take the fear away, I’m asking him to help me, I don’t want to be afraid, I know it’s not true…”
My non-certain response was something like this:
“I don’t know the answer. I wish I did. And I wish He’d take it away right now too.
But I do know that eventually that fear dies. But only when you face it. And that’s what you’re doing now.
Only when you talk about it. Only when you keep telling the fear that it’s lying to you.”
I could stand to listen to my own advice.
I still let fear call too many shots. I still give it a big seat at the table. I still try and control the fear instead of calling it out. I still lay in bed, terrified.
It’s just the wind. It’s not a real threat.
But it sure as hell feels like it is.
Like our kiddo, I want to stand up and face it. Just to watch the fear crawl back in the shadows where it belongs.
I think that’s the only way it dies I’m afraid.