Those of us whose children have been touched by trauma realize that their brains are wired for fear. When feeling a constant threat of danger, the brain tends to shut down, or is quick to anger. The response of the amygdala, in this state, will result in fight, flight, or freeze. A child’s brain is constantly being shaped by what it is experiencing. There is memory there. That is a heavy thought. The part of the brain that controls fear works faster than the part that learns to reason. It can make our children volatile and unpredictable. You’ve probably studied how your child’s brain reacts to low serotonin, underproduced neurotransmitters, and high cortisol levels that trigger stress.
However, we’re not going to focus on your child’s brain. We’re going to focus on the issue we haven’t addressed: your fears. That’s right, mama, YOUR fears. You have them, I know you do. I have them, too. Sometimes rational, sometimes irrational, but they’re there, all the same.
That fear that even though you love this child with an unconditional love, that you fight for them and protect them and try to nurture them, they won’t receive it. The fear that even in battling through lost sleep, tantrums, phone calls from school, and counseling sessions, you’re losing a part of yourself. The fear that their medical condition will get worse. The fear that they won’t bond; that you’re not doing enough. The fear their trauma was too much; that you won’t help them cope. The fear you’re not enough; you haven’t sacrificed enough. The fears a single parent struggles with daily, knowing it all depends on them. The fear of the unknown. Insert every fear. Are you doing the right thing? Are you doing anything right? Are you fighting hard enough? It can be exhausting, isolating, discouraging.
Some days this parenting gig will feel like a high-wire act out of Barnum and Bailey; a thin wire separating us from the end goal, or the bottomless depths below. The difference is, we have a safety net at the bottom, and His name is Jesus. He’s going to catch you when you fall (because mama, you will fall), and set everything right once more. His arms are strong enough to hold you, so let Him help. Don’t let your mind and heart be controlled by that which you can’t control. When fear suffocates you, remind yourself where your faith lies. (Isaiah 43:1, Psalm 34:4, Isaiah 8:17, Psalm 112:7, Deuteronomy 31:8, Isaiah 48:17, Psalm 91:1-16, Matthew 11:28-30, Philippians 4:6-7).
Steady on, mama. Don’t give up. You’re doing a great job. You don’t hear it enough. You were called to this life, this moment, this child. You were meant for them. It’s hard, it’s terrifying, it’s lonely at times. You can do this! You can, and you can help others along the way. Close the door on judgment. We’re all struggling to overcome our fears. Christ never called us to do this alone. We are called to community, and that means surrounding yourself with those who will lift up your arms when you are weary (Exodus 17:12). Jesus is there, the strongest arms of all. Learn to move beyond your fears and flourish in your faith.
“We cannot do what God has called us to do without Him.” – Lysa Terkeurst