In my younger days, I had this fear that someone was always doing something more interesting than I was. I remember one incident from college when I was scheduled to work and had to miss a concert that I'd had been looking forward to for weeks. I was devastated - I mean, over-the-top angst that all my friends had spent the evening in an outdoor amphitheater under the stars, while I had to work the tool corral at the hardware store. Looking back, it was such a silly thing to get so worked up over, but when you're nineteen and a little high-strung, missing something like that feels like your whole life has passed you by.
That fear has not gone away as I've gotten older; it just keeps dressing up in different costumes. I struggle with a tendency to overload my family's schedule with social events and day-trips, because I don't want to miss out on anything. It doesn't seem like I'm doing it at the time, because when we get invited to something that sounds fun or worthwhile, my natural response is YES! But in saying yes all the time, I sometimes ignore the needs of the rest of my family, especially its more introverted members. I also ignore my own needs, because I desperately need a little margin in my life. And it goes deeper than that, because as we've started school, I've begun to unintentionally project this onto Lucy - I don't want her to miss out on anything, and there's a temptation to overload her school day with field-trips, enrichment, art classes, PE, workshops, etc.When I overload our day, bad things happen: the meat for dinner gets left in the freezer, lessons get double-booked, and my three-year-old starts doing things like cutting the straps off my favorite tank top with the scissors that I forgot to put away (true stories, all three). But, I digress.
When I was getting my teaching credential, I learned a technique called spiral teaching. If you're not familiar with it, here's the gist - a concept is introduced in its most basic form, and then revisited many times over a long period, each time spiraling upward in complexity, thereby committing the concept to long-term memory. This idea struck me not too long ago: God is a teacher as well as a potter. A potter works in a spiral, revisiting the same material many times, each time deepening the complexity of his movements until the form of the pot is set. The fact that I have fears does not mean that God is unfaithful to me, because whenever my fears put on a new outfit, I have another chance to trust the Lord. God is faithful to mold me, and with each turn of the wheel, He asks, "Child, will you trust Me?" As I've gotten a wee bit older and have taken a few more steps down this road of faith, it's gotten easier to recognize the disguises that my fears take on - I've gotten better at seeing them for what they are.
That internal pressure I feel to say yes to an invitation, even though the party
falls on our family's only free evening all week? Same fear, different
That irrational feeling that homeschooling will somehow doom my children to a life of social isolation, despite the fact that we are surrounded by a network of extremely supportive friends and family, and despite the fact that my kids spend tons of time with other children their age? Same fear, different clothes.
That nagging doubt when I scroll through my Facebook feed and see all the activities that my friends have their kids doing, when I wonder if my kids are missing out by not doing T-ball, or soccer, or whatever, even though two of my kids are too young, and Lucy has no interest in doing any of those things? Same fear, different clothes.
And each of these things is another time around the wheel, with my faithful God gently pressing my heart, molding me, giving me eyes to see my fears for what they are, His Spirit whispering in my ear, "Child, will you trust Me?"