The first house I ever lived in was across the street from a fire station.
Living in a small town meant it was quiet most nights, but you only need to hear those loud sirens wail one time when you’re three years old to experience real terror. And that is why, every single night, my bedtime routine included this statement: “Dad, I’m afraid of the thunder and lightning and the fire trucks.”
Clearly, loud noise was my weak spot. (Had we lived next to a college football stadium, I suspect marching bands and touchdown celebrations may have made this list.)
And every single night, my father would simply reply, “That’s ok, Jason. They’re all in bed now.”
That’s all I needed to hear. It was the perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep.
For a child, the world is noisy and overwhelming. It feels too big for us. Fortunately, our parents have our back. They reassure us and help us feel safe. It is comforting to let them take care of the scary stuff. After all, they’ve been around the block. They are big and strong and know everything.
As we get older, our courage grows. We bravely venture out on our own, exploring the world, and trying new things. We gain confidence and slowly become more self-sufficient. But when life gets too scary or we skin our knee, we scurry back to them, to a place we know is safe.
Eventually, you reach the point where your parents are no longer around. Or maybe you catch up with them and are surprised to find they really don’t know everything. What then?
I don’t know about you, but there are still times when the world feels too big for me. The noise, the pain, the problems…it’s all too much.
I’m looking at you, 2020, the flaming dumpster fire only its mother could love. We’ve experienced a pandemic, lockdowns, economic downturns, unrest in our cities, natural disasters, all in a contentious election year. It’s been overwhelming, constantly trying to make sense of it all and figure out what to do next for my family and business. The moments I feel most overmatched are those when I forget I’m not alone.
What has saved me this year is my morning routine. Each day, I sit in the pre-dawn light on my rocking chair with a fresh cup of coffee and a pine-scented candle nearby. I read the Bible. I journal. I pray. Sometimes I listen to music or read from a devotional. Sometimes I just sit there, in the quiet, before the kids are up and the world turns on for the day. It is bliss. I never thought I’d ever actually enjoy getting up this early, but now I wouldn’t miss it. It’s like I’m a baby polar bear seeking warm refuge in the shadow of his protective parent.
Many times, I have confided in my Heavenly Father, “Lord, I am afraid of the virus and the violence and the division.”
And He responds, over and over again in His Word and in the still small voice in my heart, “It’s ok, Jason. I’ve got this.”
Our bodies may grow old, but our souls remain young. We are always God’s kids, and we are always yearning for love and safety. Our smallness is a gift because it leads us back to Him, and when we are weak, He is strong.
My morning quiet times give me just enough to get through the day. I don’t often experience any big revelations. Mostly just reminders.
When I think, “How am I supposed to navigate all this turmoil?” I am reminded, I don’t have to.
I am reminded that we were not meant to do this life alone.
I am reminded that I can be brave because I have backup.
Maybe you could use a reminder.
Maybe you need an invitation.
If you are navigating 2020 like a boss, by all means, keep on keeping on. But if you feel overwhelmed and out of your league, might I suggest seeking refuge in the shelter of your Heavenly Father who loves you very much and has got your back.
When the alarms sound and the sirens wail and the world feels too big for you, remember that you have a mighty champion on your side.