Saturday, April 13, 2013

Look at Daddy

Four years old. 
That's how old our daughter was 
when summer dawned and her fear of ants emerged.

We tried reason. 
Tried to help her understand 
that she is far bigger than some measly ants.
As is true of so many fears we face, reason failed.
Because, well, fear distorts our understanding.
Fear, if we let it, pulls us away from right thinking.
And Eliana was not only letting fear get in the driver's seat,
she was holding the door open for it.

Every time we would venture outside, 
that blonde head would immediately go down.
On the lookout for six-legged enemies of the minuscule kind.

Once she spotted one, it was all over.
She would freeze.
Unable or unwilling to move a millimeter further.
Yet her paralysis of body did not extend to tear ducts.
Those would be in overdrive.

Feet still.
Arms held to chest.
Tears streaming.
And crying out for Daddy to hold her.

My husband easily could have picked her up.
Scooped up all 35 pounds of the little squirt and saved her.
Super Daddy to the rescue!
But as parents, we recognize the quick fix is not necessarily the best fix.

How do we help this child fight her fear?
It's only ants.
Who has ever heard of a 14-year old with an ant phobia?
But still we knew that like all people, 
our preschooler would face fears of varying kinds all her life.
Today's fear of ants will become tomorrow's fear of rejection or failure.
Our help her learn to deal with her fear.

My husband, in a stroke of brilliance, truly became my hero.
I should have given him a cape to don right then and there.
He laid the first stone in paving the way for our little girl to become a brave, courageous woman.

Tenderly, he took hold of Eliana's hand, and told her, 
"Look at Daddy."
At first, his voice was drowned out by the noise of irrational tears.
But gently, he repeated it again, 
"Look at Daddy".
And again.
"Look at Daddy."

He spoke it until the frightened child at his side heard his voice.
And she looked up.
With his free hand, he pointed to his chin and said again, 
"Look at Daddy."

And while her gaze rested on his face, they progressed forward.
As her foot met the pavement in a single step,
she looked again to the ground.
Her eyes began to crinkle in fear.
Tears threatened once more.

"Look at Daddy. Look at Daddy."
And another step.
Hands clasped.
Until the two found themselves at their destination.
Past the point of paralysis.
Beyond the place of fearfulness.

They had made it.
Hand in hand.
Eliana had done it.
With her focus on her Daddy,
not the ground where the source of her fear dwelled.

I have a lot to learn from this scenario.
At four, my daughter did better than I often do at 37.
My fear, it can easily get the better of me.
It obscures my perspective.
Distorts my understanding.
Shakes my faith.
But I will keep looking to my Daddy.
Abba is beside me, 
holding my hand, 
and mercifully reminding me to
"Look at Daddy."

I am the Lord, 
who takes hold of your right hand,  
and says, "Do not fear. I am with you."
- Isaiah 41:13

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