What Are You Afraid Of?

fearfully madeThe prevailing topic in my home these days is driving. My son’s re-invigorated interest in learning to drive occupies nearly every conversation we have on a daily basis. He’s had his permit for about two years but has not had the motivation to get his license until recently.

When he got his permit, he was excited. Carrying this legal document in his wallet somehow made him feel more grown-up at the ripe old age of sixteen. However, like many “interests du jour” with my son, the novelty wore off quickly. (I could’ve retired from all the money I’ve spent on his fleeting pastimes).

Now it’s different. He’s getting tired of asking me for rides to his college classes and events with his friends and wants to be more independent. He recently started a new job and the motivation to be on his own is even more compelling.

He completed about eight hours of professional driving lessons about a year or so ago and now it’s time to practice; get out on the road and do all the things we experienced drivers take for granted – putting on blinkers, coming to complete stops, navigating the traffic on busy roads, parallel parking and on and on.

So – what’s the problem? Me.

I had visions of teaching my son how to drive and how fun it would be. I thought about the freedom I’d have once he could drive and maybe even help me out by picking up the occasional gallon of milk or dropping off his sister from time to time. But alas I’ve learned that I’d rather give birth without painkillers than to sit in the passenger seat of my car with my son.

There is nothing as scary as putting your life in the hands of a new driver. You give up nearly all control as tires come painfully close to curbs and brakes are not applied as quickly as you’d like. I thought I could do it – truly I did, but as I’ve stated, I’d rather put myself through physical pain than to teach my son to drive.


This paralyzing fear has resulted in my son using his hard earned money from his new job to pay for someone to take him out driving. He is not happy about this as he wanted his paychecks to go towards a car.

And – I can’t help but think that he must wonder what’s wrong with his mother that she can’t do this simple task. Why doesn’t she trust him or have confidence in his abilities? Does he think there’s something wrong with him?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last few weeks. That is, many of us may think our fears have an impact only on us. But really, our fears have an impact on others – our loved ones and possibly the world at large.

For example, if you have a fear of flying, you won’t travel by plane. You may think this only impacts you but what about the people you might meet on those travels or the family and friends who don’t get the benefit of seeing you more frequently?

Another example is more telling possibly. What if you have a fear of confrontation? Instead of dealing with a situation in an upfront manner, you hide behind others or avoid it entirely. The person who needs to be confronted continues with their less than stellar behavior and you suffer from the effects of it.

This happens not only with our loved ones but possibly in our work. Managers who are afraid to manage authentically end up hurting the very employees they say they value.

Taking it even further. What if you are afraid to go into the world and share your talents? Fear of rejection or judgement prevents you from taking this leap of faith. There may be compelling reasons that dictate timing but what if you never do it? The world will have missed out on what your God-given gifts are and suffered because of your fears.

At the end of the day, fear is fear. It has as much or as little power in our lives as we give it. What I am learning – or discovering – is that while I know I have been wonderfully and fearfully created (Psalm 134:14), neither I nor you have been created with a spirit of fear. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

When we give in to our fears, we deny or discount our God-given gifts. We ignore them entirely and act in a way that was not intended. We were not created for weakness but strength and that strength combined with wisdom is what should guide our daily actions.

My takeaway from this experience? Recognize that my fear is impacting my son and if I don’t take some type of corrective action, it will impact my daughter next year when she gets her learner’s permit.

While I may choose to delegate these initial lessons and practice to someone with more fortitude than I, I’m confident that once my son becomes re-acquainted with driving, I can take over. I will take these baby steps in faith finding solace that God knows my heart and sees that I want to do the right thing as a parent.

In the end, if I trust God and trust that this process is guided by His hand, I will kick this fear thing to the curb.

Jen’s Gem: Know that you were fearfully made; not made with fear.

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