"Did you ever go away to camp when you were a little girl?"
Two sets of eyes stared at me inquisitively; my young daughters anxiously awaited words of reassurance as they decided whether to go on the church camp trip.
I paused, debating how I should answer.
The truth is that while I did go away once, it was a terrifying experience. In my fear, I had decided that I would never again be separated from the safety of my home for more than seven hours.
I wasn't going to lie to my daughters, but I also wanted to choose words that spoke courage.
I finally told them that I was the only kid who holed herself up in the cabin with a book while all the other campers made crafts and canoed. I told them I wished I had done it differently because everyone else went home with stories of living out adventure instead of just reading about adventure. My daughters smiled.
In all honesty, I didn't want my girls to go. But that's the voice I've had to learn to stifle. It's the voice that whispers all the "what-ifs."
Sometimes my concerns are reasonable, but other times they are simply the echo of my own fears. Left unchecked, they can hinder my children from experiencing the life God has for them.
I have to ask myself regularly: Am I speaking from my own fears and regrets, or am I wisely shepherding the young lives entrusted to me?
As a 4-year-old, I was hospitalized for anxiety; I understand how fear robs me of the beauty that only grows outside my comfort zones.
I am also a woman who has buried a child. I have lived out the worst-case scenario.
So where does that leave me? Or rather, where does it leave us as mothers?
If we are wise, it leads us to our knees in adoration of the Father who never abandons or forsakes us, who honors those who trust Him and who overwhelms our frightened flesh with His loving-kindness.
My girls were nervous about going to camp, and I told them I understood. But I also told them to remember that God was with them.
Then I packed their bags, including a note to each girl saying how proud I was of her courage and her promise to tell me all about her camp experiences.
It's good for mothers to remember that while we can pass along our own stories, we can never be the authors of our children's.
Angie Smith is the author of What Women Fear and the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of the Dove Award-winning group Selah).