If everything went perfectly in our own childhood, and in the childhood our children experience, when we or they faced these fears, or the inevitable pain of simply being alive in the world, there would be a parent or other wise support person there to help us to process that pain with prayer and develop perspective and resilience so that fear doesn't become a habitual response.
But there are no perfect parents and no perfect environments.
Fear is a response we are wired with in order to protect ourselves from further hurt. But fear also closes our world down. Fear stops us from trying in case we fail. Fear stops us from entering into a new or different cultural experience because we don't know what to do. Fear stops us from being fully alive.
And fear results in us reacting instead of responding with perspective, in trying to control things that sometimes we can't or we shouldn't. We try to control by not participating, only doing what we know we can succeed in, blaming others, taking sides, being a bully.
When we are young, we see people as 'them' or 'us', the 'goodies' or the 'baddies', the 'in group' or the 'out group'. Because it feels safer to convince ourselves that we are the good girl or boy, in the coolest group, from the only normal family, from the best culture or the best church. We cover our fear by protecting ourselves from those thoughts of separation from Others, or God by being in a group - the best or strongest or coolest or most 'right' one.
And that doesn't suddenly stop as we become adults. A significant part of growing up and parenting is, I believe, learning to identify our own 'stuff'. The 'stuff' that is making us fearful and needing to control, has wounded us or closed us down and causing us to react rather than respond to and for our children. This is perfectly normal. We all do it. But inquiring about what is really behind our reactions, submitting our own pain to God, and asking God to heal us and help us to respond to our children with a renewed mind - God's perspective - is part of our own spiritual growth.
It was an absolute privilege and joy to visit Te Tau Arohanoa Akoranga yesterday. We have learnt so much from them about Maori culture and practices, about hospitality and about honouring each other. We have been richly blessed by developing friendships.
We wanted to give our learners an authentic relational reason to understand and value Maori tikanga, so that we can learn to love well without fear of the unknown. As St John said in 1 John 4:8, "perfect love casts out fear."
We wanted to help those of our learners who have a Maori heritage to begin to feel more knowledgeable and confident to contribute to our school as Maori, and we hope that they have been inspired by seeing other young Maori children leading us in this process.
And, while we are the main receivers from this experience at the moment, we wanted to build a bridge with this small bilingual school and support them as they transition to new premises during the year.
It is our prayer that as we learn about our family heritages, and about our tangata whenua, it will result in learners who can honour each other with all our differences because they are secure in themselves, confident, without fear.
It is my belief that fear is at the root of every conflict, and, through Christ, we want to bring peace into our lives, and into the world. Thanks for supporting your children in that process.