How do we build bravery in our kids when the big scary monsters aren’t just under the bed?
Maybe you’re like me and “Be Brave” is something you’ve said to your kids when they need a little nudge to do something they’ve never done before. Or maybe they need to face something that might bring an unfavorable outcome.
We encourage them in hopes that they’ll become resilient through these experiences and see that they really are capable, strong individuals. But what if the nudge to “be brave” isn’t quite enough to build bravery on their own?
When Bravery Hits Home
It was the second week of December 2020. My Nana had just had a stroke, leaving her paralyzed on her left side. My other Grandma had fallen and broken her back. She was left voiceless and unable to communicate in a new community, alone in a facility with people who don’t know her zest for life. My kids got a front-row seat in experiencing these things, witnessing our response to them.
I made it a point to be aware of my reactions and remain calm. But the truth is I was scared and sad. Before Covid, I worked as a crisis counselor, so stepping into difficult situations is sort of my thing. But this was different. To see the two matriarchs of my family going through unimaginable, life-altering things was incredibly difficult.
Then it all hit home. My son was at a birthday party playing football. He fell right in front of me while being tackled and he broke his arm. I realized it right away. I locked eyes with him and he locked eyes with me. I said simply, “Jon, your arm is broken, we are going to go to the hospital.”
I went into go mode. At that moment, I experienced the Holy Spirit overriding my fear and making Himself so apparent– providing strength and peace right when we needed it the most.
God With Us
The break was bad. The Dr. at the ER said he had a pinched artery and there was a good chance he would lose function in his arm and hand. In the ambulance on the way to surgery, his arm pinked up and we began to breathe easier. Only my son and I were allowed in. Covid kept everyone apart. But we had each other, and we knew God was with us.
My husband was a pastor and he oversaw the Christmas Eve service that year. The song we chose as the theme was “God With Us” by Terrian. We played it on repeat in the hospital that night. I told Jon no matter what that he would be fine. I was with him, and God was even closer overseeing it all.
When we face scary things, we hold onto the fact that God is with us and He can be trusted.
Those were the only two things that mattered. The only two things making us brave.
At that moment I found comfort in the understanding that God was with us and would not leave us in the scary. My son is learning what that connection with the Lord feels like. So I reminded him I was with him and so was his Heavenly Father. God is ever near.
That night Jon said he had a dream that Jesus was with him, standing over his surgeons and making sure everything was ok. I wasn’t going anywhere as a representation of what we knew to be true with the Lord.
In that situation couldn’t just say to Jon, “Don’t be afraid of the big scary right now, just be brave.” But I could tell him, “God is here, He loves you, He can be trusted.”
He Is God and He Is Good
I’m glad to share that Jon is back to swimming and playing football. But even if he wasn’t able to do those things, there is peace in knowing God had us right in His hands and He was working everything out.
We were able to rest in the scary because we know our God is good and His goodness is always with us- even when we feel scared.
He gives us His Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind to know and recall that He is God and He is good.
Covid-19 impacted our lives and altered everything for us. I couldn’t just say, “Be brave, everything will be fine.” As parents, we don’t have a manual for these things.
The experts try and point the way, shine the light, share data and offer pathways and methods for parenting, but sometimes, you have to feel your way in the dark.
That’s what these past two years have felt like- gathering advice and understanding as we go. We’ve all been adjusting to a new normal, resiliency, and form of bravery that few of us had experienced before. It’s the kind that comes as a result of trauma and a new unexpected reality.
I don’t have expert advice to offer, but I do have encouragement.
The only thing we needed in the midst of the terrifying (and we’ve had many more experiences than Jon breaking his arm) is that God can be trusted and He is with us.
This year, may we not forget He is Emmanuel: God with us, even as the songs fade back into the season of Christmas that tell us this.
May we know as we look back at all He has done that He can be trusted and He holds every moment.
I pray that as you read this, you’re able to sense His presence and remember that He is trustworthy with anything that comes our way in 2022 and always.
Shannon Ashley lives in the blue ridge mountain region of Virginia with her husband, three children and goldador. She is a trauma-informed Counselor with a Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling. She is currently homeschooling her three kids and working remotely from home. Her husband has served as a Pastor for the past 12 years and together they have counseled and cared for families throughout several challenges and life experiences. Shannon enjoys supporting and encouraging women to love the Lord and others while first knowing they themselves are lavishly loved by the Lord. Her favorite phrase and encouragement is to "Be loved, Beloved" because, after all, it is our name. Her favorite verses are Psalm 23:5-6 and Galatians 2.
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