The Packpack Boy and My Fear

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25 ESV

Braedon Hollifield. The cutest little, Asian guy I’ve ever seen. He was tall for a first grader and was obsessed with super heroes. His big brown eyes sparkled like little boys eyes should. And sometimes when he needed a haircut, a few pieces of his straight hair would stand up right in the middle of his head if the wind caught it right. He was 100 percent boy, full of energy, and quite simply, a funny kid. He spent most of his time, clipped on the yellow lily pad hanging in my classroom for behavior… but his heart. He had the most tender heart of all the children I have ever taught.

Braedon is the main character in one of my favorite first grade stories. Every morning he would run down the hall, late, with his hair flopping in the wind. On this particular morning, he made it to my classroom door, took several deep breaths, put his hands on his knees, and then he leaned up against the wall. He couldn’t quite make the “r” sound and said, “Mrs. Satterfield, I’m sorry I am late. I couldn’t find my packpack. We were looking for it everywhere! But don’t worry, it was in the car!” Honestly, that kid could be late everyday as long as he would call his backpack a packpack! He was so stinking cute! It wasn’t until December when he finally realized it was called a “backpack.”

Several days had past and I noticed that Braedon wasn’t his normal self. He was really tired and emotional. I called him to my table to read with me while the other children were in stations around the room. I told him that I had noticed that he seemed tired and I asked him if he was getting enough sleep. His face grew sad and tears welled up in his big, brown eyes. He shared with me how his family watched a scary movie over the weekend and every night when he would try to go to sleep he would see “dark things” in his room that made him feel scared. The movie that his family watched is one I wouldn’t dare watch myself. I immediately knew he wasn’t just scared of monsters under his bed.

I told Braedon that I have been scared before and knew exactly how he felt. I shared with him how even grown-ups get scared. I told him that God is stronger than Superman, faster than Spiderman, and tougher than Ironman. You should have seen his face! I told him, “All you have to do is tell God you are scared. Tell Him that you trust in Him to keep you safe. And He will. I promise.” I asked him when he went to bed and told him “when the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand is on the eight” I am going to pray that God will keep you safe. He even watched me set an alarm on my phone to remind me to pray for him. I gave him a great big hug, wiped the tears off his face, and then prayed, “God, you HAVE to answer his prayer tonight. I just promised him that you would. You HAVE to!”

Fear has always been something I struggle with. My childhood was uncertain and not stable at times. I got really good at being scared. I was fearful about the future, what others thought of me, and my performance. I was always trying so hard to be the prettiest, the smartest, the best. I worked for other’s love, approval, and acceptance.

It only took Braedon until December to learn his backpack lesson, but I feel like this is a lesson I am consistently learning. Proverbs says fear is a snare. It traps it’s victims and they get stuck. When I am working for approval, I miss out on the freedom and safety of being Christ’s sister. Because I am in Christ, the Father looks at me and sees His Beloved Son. He thinks His Son is the best! He is a part of the family, valued, accepted, cherished, and loved. And because Jesus is all of those things, I am too, because I am in Him. I’ve felt the Spirit say to my heart so much this summer, “All you have to do is tell me you’re scared. Tell me you trust in me. I’ll keep you safe.”

After my conversation with Braedon that day, at eight o’clock, I prayed that God would hear and answer Braedon’s prayer. I prayed his sweet little heart could cry out to ask for our Hero’s help. I woke up the next morning anticipating Braedon’s grand entrance into my classroom. I was standing outside my door welcoming in the late stragglers, and saw Braedon turn the corner, running down the hallway as he normally did. This time not only was he running in the hall, he was SCREAMING in the hall, “MRS. SATTERFIELD!!!! HE DID IT!!!!! HE ANSWERED MY PRAYER!!!”

After I quickly wiped the tears off my face, I gave Braedon another big hug and thanked the Father for His faithfulness. Braedon and I learned a valuable lesson in room 204 that day. I basked in the safety of God and tried to keep up with all of Braedon’s energy!