Each time I am out with our kids at a park or a cottage, I always marvel at how daring they are.
Climbing the monkey bars, flying high in the air on a swing and walking in tightrope fashion on elevated beams before jumping to the ground are just some activities they perform without any reservation.
They also venture into the woods and scoop up frogs, chase snakes in the lake and hook worms on to their fishing rods – showing no hesitation along the way.
I should not be surprised, I suppose, as I reckon I was the same when I was a youngster.
As an adult – or a parent, more to the point – I am much more protective and far less courageous when observing them in their adventures.
I often find myself having my hands right near them when on a play structure, just in case they may stumble and require support.
It is not uncommon for me to remind our kids not to run too far into the forest, and I squirm practically every time they ask me to help secure their squiggly fishing bait.
Considering this, I easily wonder why it is that our children are so brave while I am so afraid.
I figure there are some underlying reasons as to why I am fearful on so many occasions.
This may strike observers as odd, given I strive to live a life rooted in faith, believing God is my anchor and my guide. After all, as Psalm 23 tells in the Bible, I have no reason to fear, for my Lord is always with me. (Psalm 23:4)
It has been said the Bible carries 365 mentions of the basic message telling us not to be afraid. That is a daily reminder for all of us to live a life of fearlessness and trust in God.
With this in mind, then, why is it I – along with so many others – battle indecision or fright, passing on opportunities or second-guessing ourselves out of tremendous possibilities?
Why can we not simply read, believe and apply the words of God when He tells us He is always with us and we have no reason to be scared? (Joshua 1:9)
During the gospel reading of a recent Mass, I encouraged our kids to always follow Jesus, for He never forsakes them and will forever carry them through times of trial.
I could not help tell myself to remember the same lesson, though, as I read about Peter sinking after he had begun walking on water.
Imagine, told by God to join Him out on the sea, Peter steps out of a boat and proceeds to walk on the waves. Fearful of the winds, however, he takes his eyes off Jesus, prompting his descent. (Matthew 14:22-33)
Therein lies the rub.
It seems when we grow complacent in our faith, we tend to follow God less, causing us to drift from Him and lose our sense of courage in the process.
This could lead us to depend on other (artificial or temporary) resources for help in our time of need.
Distracted by so much in life, the challenge for all of us remains to stay close with the Lord, who reassures us regularly to not live afraid. (Isaiah 41:10)
Author Matthew Kelly shares, “So much can be accomplished in one moment of courage. And so much can be lost to one moment of fear.”
Jesus invites us to surrender our fears to Him while facing them with confidence. In doing so, we can then live more assuredly, knowing we will overcome anything or anyone that hinders our full, God-given potential.
Noting all of this, I guess I still have some work to do before I can demonstrate the same fearless spirit our three young thrill-seekers show me.