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Heart Lessons from Roller Coasters

“It’s only scary because you haven’t tried.”

Roller coasters. All my life people have insisted that I would like roller coasters if I would only try them. Well, I have tried. And now that I have ridden them a few times, they are no less terrifying. Many people enjoy them but they are not my cup of tea. They are, however, my 3 ½ year old son’s cup of tea.

This summer we got free tickets to a local amusement park and took my son to ride the kiddie rides. My husband doesn’t like roller coasters either, so it isn’t something we’d normally do, but we thought it would be a fun day out with our son. My son likes his share of adventure, but I wasn’t sure if he would like the rides or if they would scare him. So we rode them with him.

camp snoopy  kiddie coaster

Most of the kiddie rides are tame enough, but I’m not gonna lie- some of them scare me a little. I know, ridiculous for a grown woman to be slightly terrified of such rides, but a fear’s irrationality does not make it any less real to the one who feels it. And yet there was no way I was going to show my son that I was anything but excited to go on the rides with him. I don’t want to pass on my fears to him. There will be many fears that he will have to face in his life, and I don’t want to add to them by unburdening mine onto him, not even the silly ones, like a fear of roller coasters. This doesn’t mean that I will never show him that I’m afraid. I want him to know that I feel fear just like anyone else and teach him how to lean on God in those times when we’re afraid. But I don’t want to push fears onto him that color his attitude toward a new situation, especially one that he might enjoy.

I plastered a smile on my face and raced towards our seats on each ride, hoping that my nervous tension didn’t show. If you look at pictures from that day you can see that while I’ve got a smile on my face, my eyes show moments of slight terror. Although this is such a silly fear, it made me think of future fears that I have to face as a mama. When I think of the future, I am sometimes afraid for my sons. They say that being a parent is to forever have your heart walking around outside of you, and it’s true. When they are babies we get to shelter them and hold them and keep them away from many of the things we fear. Sending them out into the world where they can get hurt scares me. I want to protect them so much, and yet I have to let them go. I cannot protect them from everything that could happen to them or go with them wherever they go.

But God can. God is always with them. This doesn’t mean that God will prevent everything I’m afraid of from happening to them. Things will happen, but I know that God is working all things together for good. He loves them more than I ever could and I need to trust Him that He will take care of them. Whenever my fears for them start to overwhelm me, I have to lean into that truth.

Mary Martha Mama