In my mind, I really do want to be Wonder Woman—the greatest superheroine ever.
As a young girl, I was enamored by Lynda Carter with all her beauty, poise, and strength. No offense to all the Disney Princesses, but Wonder Woman was more my speed. She was so believable as her alter ego Diana Prince, in her 1970s glasses and in all that spinning transformation. Oh, and let’s not forget her Lasso of Truth, bulletproof bracelets, and that awesome Invisible Plane.
In my mind, I kinda was Wonder Woman.
For my husband, it was all about The Flash. He’s quick (obviously) in his ability to move, to run, and to think extremely fast. This is super relatable in my hub’s ADHD brain (“superspeed” is exactly how he would describe his thinking much of the time!)
It’s funny because, as I have gotten older, I still identify and relate to that amazing Amazon woman. In my mind, especially now as a mom of three boys, I still think of myself as Wonder Woman at times.
But there is another character I have related to extremely well during these days of motherhood. It’s another literary character (just as Wonder Woman and The Flash are DC Comic characters.) In fact, my guess is that, as parents, many of you are familiar with this little fella named Scaredy Squirrel.
Of fear and trembling and squirrels
For those who might not be familiar, let me bring you up to speed.
Scaredy Squirrel is a character who lives in a tree and never leaves . . . mostly because of the unknown, but also due to six specific fears: green Martians, killer bees, tarantulas, poison ivy, germs, and sharks. He shares with the reader that he is perfectly happy to “stay in his safe and familiar tree than risk venturing out into the unknown.”
My guess is that if Scaredy Squirrel had a life verse, it would be something like Psalm 55:5: “Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.”
I absolutely love this story created by the author, Melanie Watt. And whether she realizes it or not, she taps into some wonderful spiritual insight for all of us as believers, but also as parents.
A safe and familiar tree
You see, Scaredy Squirrel has convinced himself of certain advantages to never leaving the tree.
He has a predictable routine he lives out every day. I bet if I asked each of you, you could give me a list of some of your fears masked in predictable routines—your specific mom fears: for example, crawling (or the lack thereof following the standard timeline.) Potty training. Reading. Bullying. Broken bones. Rejection. Pornography. Vaping. Gender identity confusion. College acceptance. Singleness.
Some of us have created a safe and familiar tree for ourselves and our kids. We like it in our tree. We have a routine in our tree. We can justify the value of our tree all day long. How many of us as parents have given in to our own idols of control, acceptance, comfort, and fear by insulating our kids’ worlds (or trees?)
We have helicoptered and snowplowed and scheduled out their worlds from the time they were barely turning over in order to limit struggle and conflict and “idle” time. We posture and position ourselves right into all the coolest playdates, birthday parties, homecoming dates, and Instagram posts so that our little guys and gals never have to experience rejection or hurt feelings.
Taken to the extreme, some parents might even be convinced the right decision is to pay bunches of money to some random stranger to ensure their sons or daughters will get into that college of choice.
Realistically, the world can be a scary place. Our kids can get hurt. Their hearts can feel broken. They can be rejected.
When did we expect it not to be so?
Jesus clearly told us, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
For myself, I know I have agreed with the enemy too many times.
I have forgotten that he is a liar (John 8:44) and that he works to undermine the identity we have been given in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
He is here to thwart all of God’s good plans for ourselves and our children, plans that have been in place since before we were born (Psalm 139.)
I have failed to believe his Word in Psalm 34:17, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
The enemy is thrilled to lock us and our kids in that tree of isolation and fear. But God has a better abundant adventure planned for us. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Designed for more
Back to Scaredy Squirrel.
The beautiful transformation of that character comes unexpectedly.
One day, he is forced out of the tree, and what he discovers (amidst the panic) is that he is a flying squirrel.
Once he starts doing what he was designed to do all along, he realizes that he feels “overjoyed, adventurous, carefree and alive.” The story goes on, and we learn that, while he still struggles with some of his fears, he is forever changed.
Many of us have bought into lies the enemy has told us about the unknown, our fears, and/or our tree. My encouragement and challenge today is to consider that you have been designed for more than what you are experiencing in your tree.
Is it terrifying to let our little darlings run through the splash park (to slip and bust his head open) or explore down to the creek (snakes!) or tube on the lake (to drown) or go off to share the gospel along the Amazon (to be swallowed up by an anaconda)?
But the Lord has a great plan for every child. (Don’t we preach that to them from the time they were dedicated as a baby in church?)
Trusting him with his plan can feel so frightening but is so freeing.
What is your child’s superpower?
As believers, part of being able to live out that adventure is in understanding and exercising our spiritual gifts. This is crucial for living our spiritual journey outside the tree.
Do you know your spiritual gifts?
Do you know how to talk and equip your kids with their spiritual gifts?
We have all been given specific gifts by the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation. These gifts are talked about in 1 Corinthians 12, and I encourage you to read about them. They are not a mystery. They are given to bring glory to God and to edify the body of believers. The secular world may get some benefit from our gifts, but the primary purpose is for other believers.
Today is a great day to start exploring these gifts with your kids. Pay attention to how they relate to other people:
- Do they jump in to help clean or set the table? Maybe they have the gift of service.
- Do they organize the playroom or make lists for the family vacation? Maybe they have the gift of administration.
- Do their friends consistently tell them they are good listeners and encouragers? Maybe they have the gift of mercy or exhortation.
- Do they enjoy inviting others to your home? Maybe they have the gift of hospitality?
- Do they share the gospel at school or at the park? Maybe they have the gift of evangelism.
You can start encouraging them now to take risks in those areas and let God bring about that spiritual sense of fulfillment. You can teach them about the joy realized in exercising your gifts and the greater joy that comes in knowing others are blessed.
Can you imagine the impact our kids will have on this broken and hurting world as they start living the adventure God has planned?
Please be encouraged today. This Wonder Woman recognizes her propensity to live like Scaredy Squirrel. Diana Prince was right when she said, “What one does when faced with the truth is more difficult than you’d think.”
We all must trust God with our fears, especially fears regarding our children. But what abundant joy is present when we trust him to do just that.