Kids climb to the top of everything. And fall off. And climb back up.
My son fell facedown on concrete more times than I can count. It never seemed to slow him down.
These kids. They are born fearless.
When does it start, I wonder.
I rest my hand on a child’s back and feel the beginnings of fear. I am struck by the sharp protrusion of his scapula, the tension that holds his shoulders so high and tight against the world.
He seems so young to hold his body this way.
I know this kid. He is mostly happy. His parents are mostly happy, like the best and most honest couples are. He is well fed and cared for. He has a bunch of Legos and a little dog.
What is it that fills him with such anxiety? What at his young age and ideal situation robs him of so much peace?
I ask him. He is worried about some things at school, academic things. He worries about poison ivy, he says. He worries about his parents getting old. He is only eleven, but he wishes he were younger. He liked being really little, he says. He wishes he could stay little, just a while longer. He tears up while he talks. This is not a joke to him.
“Why did you like being little?” I ask him.
“I just did,” he smiles.
I liked being little, too. I remember feeling the same way, somehow knowing that my parents held back the world for me. That, just for a minute, I got to wear my capes and my dress up dresses and run through the yard barefoot and climb trees and play telephone. Just for a minute.
I remember being about eight years old and hearing about an older cousin at college. “College,” I thought. “Oh no. I don’t even know how to graduate from middle school. How will I ever manage college?” And, as a third grader, I added “college” to my ever-growing list of worries.
I thought I had to figure it all out right then. My shoulders, high and tight. Like my young friend thinks he has to figure it all out. Right now. Including his parents’ elder-care. They are in their 40s.
“Figuring it all out” is one big lie. One big fat lie. We can’t figure it all out. And most of it isn’t going to happen the way we worry it anyway.
I just saw a quote from Shelley Hitz today. About how 99% of the things we worry about never even happen. Strategizing worry is just one big waste of time.
Worry and fretting and anxiety–they are all little ways that fear sneaks in and grows in our lives.
I ask my young friend what would help him worry less.
He says other people can’t really help him. He says it’s something he has to do. He says he needs to capture his thoughts. He says sometimes you just need to let yourself cry. And then think of something else. And sermons, they probably help a little bit.
I rest my hand on his back. He smiles, and the sharpness in his shoulder blades suddenly feels like something else. His choice is the thing that makes the difference.
That sharp protrusion, not the beginning of fear, but the beginning of wings.
What do you think you have to figure out today? What can you do to capture your thoughts?
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Phil4:8