A few weeks ago, Mariah and I were Christmas shopping. While Mariah was looking around, I discovered some artwork that I have since grown to really like. The artwork had the following quote: “Don’t let your fear be bigger than you faith.” As I have reflected on that quote, I have found several opportunities. to share this quote. I have come across multiple situations where friends have let their fear be bigger than their faith allowing me to have an opportunity to make a difference. The more I shared it, the more I have become fond of the quote.
When you have fear or faith, you will usually have some form of anticipation that eventually impacts your attitude. For instance, if you have faith you will anticipate something optimistic or something good happening. But, if you have fear you will anticipate something pessimistic or something bad happening. That anticipation will eventually impact your attitude and ultimately how you treat the people around you.
At our house, there is lots of anticipation and the anticipation impacts each of us a little differently. As we begin to anticipate, we tell ourselves a story and that story can guide us down an emotional path – an optimistic path or a pessimistic path. The important thing is how that path impacts our attitude which ultimately affects how we treat each other.
Right now our boys are very excited about Christmas since it is only 7 days from now. They have faith that they are going to get some great presents. They anticipate that they will get some fun gifts. As a result, they have very positive attitudes. Seeing their excitement and good attitudes makes Mariah and I very happy and brings us a lot of joy. Thus, the faith and the anticipation leads all of us to having good and positive attitudes and treating each other with kindness.
I know that example seems fairly simple, so let me share with you a more complicated situation. Yesterday, the boys were excited about going to two birthday partys. They had faith that the parties would be fun, they anticipated having fun, they had good attitudes, but their anticipation got out of control. They became so focused on the party that their excitement became a nuisance. Sometimes their anticipation is so big that they have trouble containing it. Their anticipation grew so big and dramatic that they become emotional dinosaurs.
Because we have experienced the emotional dinosaurs before, Mariah and I can allow our fear (that the boys will push our buttons or each others buttons and wear us down) to outgrow our faith (that they will have good behavior). We began to anticipate the worst rather than the best. Specifically, we became fearful that the boy’s anticipation would lead to competition, fighting, nagging, and begging. Thus, we began to anticipate the worst and our attitudes began to stink.
The truth is that the boy’s anticipation can sometimes be a dangerous combination with our anticipation. If our anticipation combines at the wrong time in the wrong way, it can become a volatile situation. It can be like Godzilla meeting a King Kong. When the two combine it can lead us down a hard and moody path. And today, between the two birthday parties, Godzilla met King Kong and the moods spiraled out of control. It turned out to be less than a desirable afternoon for all of us and you can see how the violent collision affected Max (our boys never fall asleep easily, especially on our couch amidst all of the surrounding noise).
As I have reflected on the afternoon, I have tried to determine how to best get through these situations. I was reminded of how the emotional dinosaurs recently affected Mariah about a week ago. Mariah found herself sitting alone in her car in a parking lot trying to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. It was her only escape from all of the drama. As she sat there for a few minutes enjoying the peace, I think she realized how odd it could appear. Even though it felt odd for her to sit and enjoy the quietness in her car, she probably needed the relief. The boy’s dramatic anticipation that day was really just encouragement for her to take a break. It was their (you know I really mean our) little motivation. For some reason, whether Mariah understood it or not, she found a way to keep her fear from becoming bigger than her faith. So, what was it about that day that made the difference?
The answer finally came to me as I recalled what a friend at work told me a few months ago “no one controls your attitude but you. Don’t let someone else make that decision for you.” So, while I lay here awake tonight and everyone else is asleep (except me at the moment because I was able to get Max peacefully back to sleep), I have many thoughts and feelings. I anticipate getting the boys up, getting them ready for school, getting them in the car, and getting them delivered to school. While it sounds simple, the fact is that it will either go smoothly or roughly. The difference maker can often be our attitude which develops from the anticipation we have as a result of our fear or faith.
So, tonight as I go to bed, I am not going to let my fear be bigger than my faith. I am going to have faith and anticipate that tomorrow morning will be stable and calm (boys will wake up independently on time, get dressed with smiles on their faces, hug each other, be excited to go to school, be kind to each other all the way to school, and even hold the door for each other as they walk in the school building). I am going to have faith that the boys have faith and an optimistic mood and attitude when they wake up.
I am not naive and I also anticipate that I will have a fight on my hands. I anticipate that I will have to battle all of the anticipation around me. The question is can I fight all of the superficial anticipation in a way that allows my emotions to stay optimistic. Can I fight all of the anticipation to destroy the fear and allow my faith to win? I can as long as I can stay focused. I can as long as my fear doesn’t become bigger than my faith.