Why “Safe” Can Be Dangerous

Safety. We parents crave it for our children and our families; we search for neighborhoods that are considered “safe,” we try to keep our children away from dangerous objects or scenarios, and we purchase all manner of gadgets and gear in order to ensure that our kids won’t fall down stairs or pinch their little fingers or electrocute themselves. This is what it means to be a good parent, right? As Christian parents, especially, why would we ever choose to do anything that could endanger the lives, health, or well-being of our children?

Kirsten Strand, a Chicagoland mother of two boys found herself pondering this very question one day when her then-2nd grade son came home and announced, “I can’t go back to school until I get a pair of Heelys!” The Strands lived in the city of Naperville, which regularly makes lists such as “Best Small Cities to Live in America.” Kirsten’s son had been swayed towards the wheeled sneakers by his peers in school, and as Kirsten says in The Missional Mom, “At the time, Heelys cost $80 a pair! I thought, ‘If this is happening in Naperville in second grade, what will happen when they get older?”

Most families, Christian or otherwise, avoid neighborhoods that might be considered “dangerous”, with school systems that are under-resourced. But as Kirsten discovered, there are spiritual dangers that are just as prevalent in supposedly “safe” neighborhoods that are easier for us to miss. In our zest and zeal to protect our children from discomfort and disadvantage in a physical sense, we may actually be hampering them spiritually. Could it be that the lessons that arise from living by faith, in situations that stretch our comfort zones, are exactly what God would like for us to embrace?

In his book The Monkey and the Fish, author and pastor Dave Gibbons asks “Where is Nazareth?” as a way to encourage the reader to probe this question: where are the areas around you in which people are marginalized for whatever reason? In Jesus’ time, Nazareth was considered a place from which nothing good could come, and yet God chose it as the hometown for his son. If God can root his own Son in a place with a negative reputation, perhaps we parents today have to be more willing to do the same.

As for Kirsten and her family, four years ago they made the decision to move to the neighboring town of East Aurora, a community that was so completely different from Naperville, both socioeconomically and ethnically. East Aurora was just the next town over, but the children there were living a completely different reality than what Kirsten and her family had been experiencing in Naperville. The Strands are now actively involved with the ministering to the under-resourced community in East Aurora, and they have no regrets for making what looks to be a more “dangerous” choice for their family. Kirsten says, “We decided that if God was calling us to this, He knew we had children, and He would take care of them. We had to be willing to lay down that cross and say, even if the absolute worst happens, that we would be able to accept it.”

The Strands have put their hope and trust in the Lord, which seems to me to be the safest way for a family to live. What do you think? What are ways in which God might be challenging your ideas of safety, comfort, and danger?


(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosasay/3287920767/)

7 Comments on “Why “Safe” Can Be Dangerous

  1. I write about this topic frequently. It’s easy for Christian parents to want to play God’s role for Him by controling every aspect of their kids’ world so that they can stay “safe”…as if God is incapable of doing that if they didn’t. As a result, kids’ grow up so sheltered that they can relate to the “real” world at all, the sinners, the poor, those different from them, etc. Most recently I addressed this topic from the angle of a children’s book that many Christian parents are scared to read to their kids because it tackels a lot of tough issues. I read this beautiful book with my kids and LOVED the wonderful conversations I was able to have with them. http://tararwood.com/home/childrens-book-tackles-tough-life-issues-and-we-chose-to-read-it-to-our-kids/

  2. Helen,

    I heard you this week on Focus on the Family. Great post – we are going through “Grace Based Parenting” in my Sunday school class and just talked about safety this past week. We are not to focus on raising “safe” kids but “strong” ones. Appreciate your point of view. May we pray the Lord to put our kids where He wants them – and that may not “look” like the best place at all times. My kids are 1, 4, and 6. My 6 year old is in public school and it’s so neat to see him talk about God with his friends. I’m an author as well, so I’m very glad to meet you through your blog! This year Harvest House Publishers released my book “31 Days to a Younger You: No Surgery, No Diets, No Kidding.” Next year they will release “31 Days to a Happy Husband” which I’m writing now. God bless!”

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