Fear, Joshua, and middle school


Fear. That is what is motivating this blog post. My only child has started middle school and I am not ready. We have everything – it’s not that. We bought a backpack, paper, pencils, pens, folders, etc. But I am not emotionally ready. I have dreaded this moment from at least as early as the beginning of 5th grade. I remember tearing up when Noah had his last elementary play, when I had my last few lunches with him, and of course at the 5th grade graduation. With sadness and trepidation, I have shared my worries with his elementary principal, my mother-in-law, my cashier at IHOP – anyone who will listen.

However, time marches on whether we are ready or not. Sunday was the middle school open house. I cried. Twice. Not bad – I expected more tears. Noah showed us around the place and we eagerly checked out the 6th grade hallway where his classes would mostly be.

Sunday night, I stared off into space as I tried to sleep, worry consuming me. What if he hates it? What if he can’t find his classes? What if someone says something mean to him? Hurts his feelings? What if he can’t find someone to sit beside at lunch? What if he doesn’t understand what is being taught? What if he has a mean teacher? What if my sweet boy starts using drugs?

I eventually drifted off, and woke up to the blaring alarm clock. I kept my composure very well. I drove him to school, and parked in the parking lot across the street. I prayed with him on the way there, just as I have done every morning since preschool. He got out and crossed the street, and walked to the door – a seemingly hour-long process. I drove away as he went in the door, and the tears started flowing (mine, not Noah’s). I prayed the entire way home, sobbing (talk about distracted driving – thankful I made it home). I cried walking into my house, sitting on my couch. Then I had a deep urge to get my Bible.

I quickly searched for words of comfort, that only God can bring. He delivered.

I remembered something about God’s promises to Joshua, so I went there. After thumbing through the book backward (don’t know why I always do it this way), I decided I might as well start at chapter 1, and just keep reading until I found comfort. I had plenty of time, but I didn’t need it. Turns out, chapter 1 is exactly where God was sending me.

Twice God tells Joshua that He will never leave him. I began to feel my fears ease. God was with Joshua. He was handing over to Joshua the honor/enormous responsibility of leading the Israelites, right after the death of Moses. I wonder what Joshua could have been feeling that day. Maybe honor. That God would trust him to lead His people into the promised land had to be pretty flattering. Clearly there was a little fear; God wouldn’t have bothered with all this “Be strong and courageous” business, (which is mentioned 4 times in chapter 1) if it was going to be a cakewalk. (Not exactly sure what a cakewalk is, but I’m assuming it’s pretty easy). I think there had to be a little uneasiness as well. Those Israelites could be a whiny bunch. “We miss Egypt! We’re tired of manna! Moses has been gone for a few weeks – we need a gold cow ASAP!!”

But, knowing Joshua’s heart, God was quick to reassure him. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I know these words were spoken specifically for Joshua. But Monday morning, a few minutes before 8 a.m., God let me know that He means them for me too. He loves me and he loves Noah just as much as He loves Joshua. He won’t leave Joshua? He won’t leave me. He won’t leave Noah.

Then came peace. How much more could I need? If I were with Noah all day at middle school, I might be of some comfort (If we can pretend he wasn’t humiliated by me being there), but there could be a million things that might come up where I would be of no use. But God – He can do anything. And he will never leave Noah. He will go with him, through homeroom, through social studies, through lunch, through cross country practice.

God also directed Joshua to “Be strong and courageous.” Seriously, this was mentioned four times in the 18 verses. I think He meant it. My favorite is verse 9.

     “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

So, it’s time to put on my big-girl-panties and be strong. God is with us. What better way to get gain courage?

I’m happy to say that when I picked him up from cross country practice at 4:30 (I was a little early), he told me he had a great day. But then again, how could he not? He had some seriously great company 🙂

p.s. – a  big ‘thank you’ to my friends who helped keep me busy, who prayed for me and who checked on me during this. Thanks for understanding my craziness 🙂 Love you all!!




About Jen Chapman

She is a wife to Shawn for 22 years and counting, and a mom to Noah, and together they live out their story in their tiny town of Barboursville, WV. She is a freelance writer and a blogger at girlmeetsgrace.com. Flowers, bookstores, and people are what make her smile. She has seen God’s grace redeem her big-time and wants everyone to know it and experience it for themselves. She wants more than anything to give praise and honor to Jesus, and point people to Him.

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