Safety, CNN, and a Bigger Vision

13 09 2014

My baby’s world is getting bigger.

At birth, his field of vision was only about 10 inches long. And by the time he reaches three months, he’ll be able to see all the way across the room. But today, at seven weeks old, he is stuck in that awkward, in-between stage, trying to make sense of his ever-expanding world.

Earlier this week, he noticed the mobile in his room for the first time. He stared intently up in the air, transfixed by the swirling letters. And he is befriending the ceiling fans in all the rooms of our house, looking up at them and cooing with delight.

But awareness comes with a price. For the first few weeks, he could sleep through anything. This week, however, he began waking up to the slightest sound. Our dog’s barking scared him, causing him to cry inconsolably.

****

During my maternity leave, I’ve been trying to stay informed about current events. And there has certainly been a lot to keep up with: Ferguson, Israel/Palestine, ISIS, Ukraine, Ebola. We seem to be experiencing, as Jon Stewart put it, “Crisis in the Everywhere.

It’s funny, though. These days, I read the news (and write this blog) neither as a pundit nor as a philosopher, but as a mom. And it makes me acutely aware of the sometimes terrifying realities of the world into which my child has been born.

I feel this deep, instinctual need to protect my kid from the big, scary things of life, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t contemplated moving my little family to someplace a little bit safer: say, an underground bunker in the middle of Canada.

Okay, I haven’t seriously considered that. But now that I mention it, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea…

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In his book Just Courage, International Justice Mission’s founder Gary Haugen recounts the history of the cul-de-sac. According to Haugen, we originally began building cul-de-sacs in our suburbs to keep kids safe from traffic. However, this shift actually was more dangerous for children, who were more often injured by cars backing out of their driveways than by those traveling down the street.

The metaphor is clear. As much as we want to stay safe, it may actually to be more risky to shelter ourselves than it would be to actually face the world head-on.

I have to remind myself, sometimes, that I don’t actually want to shield Little Man from all the scary things of life. I want his world to keep expanding. I want him to experience challenges and risks so that he can come out on the other side with resilience and independence. I want his perspective to be big enough to understand his own privilege and to have empathy for the experiences of the “others,” whoever they may be.

Because he can’t experience the joy of ceiling fans and mobiles without also having to face the barking dogs.

My faith reminds me that we are not called into a life of safety but into a life of faithfulness. We don’t run from the world — we engage it. We follow our calling, bringing light into the darkness, healing to the brokenness, and good news to counter what we see on TV every day.

2014-07-26 19.40.05

This is the best feeling in the world…

So I watch the news while I cradle my baby, singing him to sleep with the words of this Easter hymn:

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives:

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One response

15 09 2014
jayessjaybee

Love this… isn’t that the biggest challenge? My quick prayer the other day was something to the fact of, “Let my child be shielded from the big bad world, from want, and from scarcity, yet let him (or her) recognize and respond to the needs of the world, to the needs of those around him.” And, even as I said it, I knew it was impossible to have both exclusively.

BTW… I’m hoping and encouraging you to share this and more writing with some of the “big” blogs… it’s good stuff!

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