As I walked around the room at the end of the VBS lesson about fears, I read the words the children wrote.
That day we learned about taking our fears to God in prayer. Then we encouraged them to write something they were afraid of and draw pictures about it. Each time they looked at it, it served as reminder to pray about their fear.
What frightened them?
Drawma (a creative spelling)
There were lots of words. Some of them trite. Some of them serious. Even as young as they were, some of the kids held back. Afraid to put what they really feared in print for others to see.
But this one kid, near the back … all week he’d been a handful.
His strong independent streak pushed the patience of his crew leader by Wednesday. In his neatest eight-year-old handwriting, he wrote the word “nothing” in bright blue marker, the same color as the football jersey he sported that day. No drawings of course. He was afraid of nothing so there was nothing to draw.
I fought the strong urge to scoop him up and hug him tightly, because I had the feeling he was the most afraid of all of them. His tough veneer, and his lack of interest in helping the leader maintain some order, would usually make me short on patience too. Today though I felt compassion for him.
I thought of Jesus among the masses in Matthew 9.
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'”
Jesus understood how harassed and plagued we are with things we don’t even realize bother us. As an adult, just like Jesus with the masses, I saw all the things these little kids don’t even know they struggle with yet. I felt for them and their kid-sized fears. Thinking really, they just don’t even know yet.
One thing I’m learning this year, the struggle starts young. As I watch my own kids, and the kids I occasionally lead, I find my compassion deepens for their struggles. Even (especially) when my patience is low.
Because I’m learning more about where my own struggles started. My compassion grows even for folks we normally consider “old enough to know better.”
As adults, I see many of us writing “nothing” on our paper. We desire to appear to hold it all together to avoid judgement, and we leave ourselves little room, if any, for vulnerability.
The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
This labor includes vulnerability. By sharing our own fears, and exposing the real us, we labor more effectively in the fields. The available grace shows more with every conversation and with every vulnerability we share with those looking for a better way.
Take a look at your fears. Is it time to face them? Start by embracing the fact they exist, and take steps to share them.
Some fears need to be shared.
Some fears simply need to be voiced or confessed. There is a certain liberty in that for many of us. Get that paper out and just like the kids at VBS, start by writing them down.
Some fears need to be shared. the Vulnerability with others sharing the same struggle encourages both parties. Find an accountability and prayer partner and work through it together.
For others of us, they need to be unpacked with a therapist or counselor. If they cripple you, take that step to get some real help. Don’t be like the little boy who wrote “nothing.”
Chances are, just like I could see with the little boy, there are those who see your need for help, and they are ready to do just that.Some fears need to be shared. Vulnerability with others sharing the same struggle encourages us.Click To Tweet
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