A couple of days ago, Lucas rummaged in the refrigerator for an afternoon snack and nonchalantly told me about his drive home from school.
“I just gave this homeless guy a ride to the civic center, Mom. His name is Wayne. I’ve never met anyone named Wayne.”
If this story were in the form of a cartoon strip then you would now see a frame with an oversized thought bubble revealing my immediate rapid fire reaction…
“Are you crazy?! You picked up a homeless guy? You are just a 16-year-old boy. That could be dangerous! You never know what their intentions might be. You need to be more careful! It’s not safe to pick up someone you don’t know on the side of the road!”
But instead of seeing my thought bubble full of questions and exclamations, Lucas heard me calmly say, “Cool. How did that happen?”
He told me the story as he poured the milk and stirred the chocolate. After he settled down with his chocolate milk and homework, I settled into reviewing my original thought bubble.
“Safety Officer”–it’s one of our main job descriptions as a mom. Look both ways before you cross. Buckle your seat belt. Don’t touch that, it’s hot. Be careful or you’ll fall. Drive slower. Drive even slower! For years I’ve been trying to keep my kids safe.
“Spiritual Formation”—another primary mom job. Love God. Love your neighbor. Forgive again. Be the Good Samaritan. Be humble. Be thankful. Pray like this.
What happens when the two collide? What happens when I’m more concerned about my kids’ safety than about my kids living like Jesus? Is it possible that my Mom instinct makes Christianity a little too safe? Or maybe it’s my North American instinct–the government owes me safety, so God does too.
“Being safe” is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Love and kindness are. I’m embarrassed that my first instinct was to instruct Lucas better in the ways of safety.
I fear that I have made Christianity too safe and polished—for myself and for my kids.
After I revisited my overcrowded thought bubble, I came up with some questions that will help you reflect on whether you are raising “safe” Christians too…
- Do you pray for safety for your kids more than courage and boldness?
- Do you send them on mission trips to reach out to people on the margins but never encourage them to do the same on a daily basis?
- Are you teaching your kids to do two-hour service projects, or a life style of service through relationships? You know the difference. One is neat and convenient; the other can get pretty messy.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not advocating careless recklessness (read that again if you’re one of my kids). Safety is good, and I’ll continue to wear my safety officer badge as a mom.
I just want the Holy Spirit to have a louder voice in my life than the long list of safety precautions.
It wasn’t safe for the good Samaritan to stop for the hurt man on the side of the road. It wasn’t safe for Lucas to pick up Wayne. It wasn’t safe for Jesus to go to Jerusalem—thankfully his mother, Mary, didn’t convince him to stay home (one of the reasons she’s my hero).
The country I live in is known for being safe.
The kingdom I serve in is known for its love.
C.S. Lewis sums it up well in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, when Mr. Beaver describes Aslan and said,
“Safe?…Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”