By Caleb Keith –
Last Thursday, my beautiful daughter Esther Lily Joy Keith was born. My wife and I were blessed with a quick and easy labor and a very healthy daughter. However, what followed the relatively easy birth was an uncomfortable 48 hours in the hospital watching my wife and daughter get poked and prodded by nurses and doctors. Every test came back absolutely perfect, and after 24hours, my wife’s OBGYN was prepared to discharge her so we could go home to rest and be a family. Unfortunately, she was not authorized to discharge my daughter, and the hospital pediatrician wouldn’t let us go despite Esther’s lack of complications or health issues. When my wife Erika and I finally got home, we could breathe, and my baby girl was finally able to rest without being tested every two hours.
Today, Erika and I took Esther to her first doctor’s appointment. That appointment was essentially two hours of questioning steeped in sheer fear. Most of these concerns were not about direct health problems with my daughter, but with the probability or possibility of hundreds of dangers. The majority of these questions were absurd, “Will anybody who smokes every come in contact with this baby? Do you own a firearm? Will you let anybody hold her who isn’t completely up to date on their vaccines?” These three questions only begin to scratch the surface. Five minutes in, I began to question how any babies before this point in time ever survived. Above all, what I realized is that we live in a society paralyzed by fear.
As a new parent, I am already scared enough about the things I might do wrong or neglect to do. The last thing I want is another 200 things on my list of worries. I love my daughter, and I want nothing but the best for her, but I am not going to give all of my family and friends the 5th degree about their own vaccinations. This is not because I don’t care about my daughter’s health but because I refuse to live in a constant state of fear. I will not let the first days I spend with my daughter be defined or ruled by fear. How could I when the true fear of sin, death, and the devil has been erased by Christ’s death and resurrection? Esther, Erika, and I share in that gift through our Baptisms, and through faith we are saved and given new life. The new or sanctified life is not one of fear but is one of hope, joy, and grace. My goal as a father and a Christian in the world is to proclaim Christ for the forgiveness of sins by which all fear loses its true power. I will always care for the health needs of daughter and family, not out of fear, but in the joyous hope that I share in a long life with my daughter where our relationship is one empowered and freed by Christ. Thanks be to God for such amazing freedom.