I was asked recently how I protect my children from the fear they might have of a shooter coming to their school (or theater or wherever). And I've had many conversations about how we can protect our children from those who would wrong them, from bullies to sex offenders.
And my response is this: We can't protect our children from the mess and the evil of this world. We can certainly shelter them from adult movies, dangerous parks where drugs are regularly sold, etc, but we cannot predict where the next mentally ill shooter will choose to express their anger with a gun.
And honestly, I don't think we should try to protect them from every evil they may face. What we need to teach them is how we, ourselves, face fears. As adults, we know that evil can come from many quarters, and we know that it isn't always even possible to protect ourselves.
So what do I do to face my fears of attacking dogs, bears, mountain lions... of rapists and shooters and robbers?
I'd love to say that the very first thing I do is turn to God, and while that is certainly my "bottom-line" in dealing with my fears, I have to admit that the first thing I do is prepare. I prepare myself by knowing which decisions are likely to lead to danger and which decisions are likely to lead to safety.
So, for example, our daughter and I wear bear bells when we hike. And I've learned (and taught my 8 yo) what to do in case of a bear (mountain lion, scary adult) encounter. I think these precautions are just plain smart. I try not to frighten myself or our daughter, but to be prepared.
Here's a recent example of being prepared: Lately, there has been a very aggressive dog in one of the yards I pass on my daily walk. There is a fence, but this dog can almost jump over it, and there are many gaps in the fenceline. I have carried the occasional stick while I walk to deal with dogs, but this particular dog has been a consistent problem. My stick seemed to provide no deterrence. So I bought pepper spray last week. And used it yesterday. Successfully.
However, each day as I approach the area this dog frequents, I turn to God. I don't simply say, "God, protect me from this dog." I try to seek a deeper truth, I say: "God, in everything You are my God. In everything, You are my strength. No matter what happens today with this particular dog in this particular situation, I turn to You. In You I find my hope."
Ann Voskamp recently posted this meme:
I cling to this. God is with me in all things, large and small. My fear and dismay are not the victors! God is. And this is what I'm trying to teach my daughter. Yes, there are things to fear in this world... But the victory is God's!