Around the world, so many of us are grieving this senseless tragedy in Orlando, trying to make evil fit into a narrative that would make sense. Beginning on Monday morning, I’ve felt myself pushing against that gray, shapeless mass that is anxiety–for a number of personal reasons, not the least of which are these heart-rending events in my home country. Though I don’t feel my voice would add something unique to the reaction, after talking with our kids on Monday evening and praying together as a family, I found my friend Kristen’s post, Dear Kids: It’s a Sad Day in America, to be a good word.

My anxiety doesn’t compare to what many are mourning right now, and I continue to pray for Orlando families and churches. But perhaps you can identify with some of these thoughts as we confront fears of all dimensions.  -Janel

 

Parenting is…overwhelming sometimes pretty much all the time. Last night I recognized a sensation creeping over me with shadowy fingers, as my thoughts slammed into my kids’ schooling and implementing solutions for my son’s ADHD and appalling, heart-rending current events: anxiety. If I were to have drawn my heart, it may have looked like this:

scribble

I want so much for my kids, as I’m guessing you do. I’m thinking so often about their character, their future. I’m implementing scripture memory plans, swapping out white flour for whole grain, constructing chore charts, initiating important conversations, downloading apps.

I perched on the edge of the bed last night, shoulders sloping; asked my husband to pray for me. I’ve seen what happens when I parent out of fear. I’m reactionary. Let’s imagine a few oh, utterly hypothetical, occasionally irrational anxiety flowcharts of mine, shall we?

anxiety flowchart chart 2 anxiety flowchart chart 1

 

 

I subtly (?) evolve into the Incredible Hulk, touchy and rigid, growling orders. Or I hover! Or I resort to a flurry of activity and research and determination. Or…I shame my kids. Because I’m more concerned about my kingdom than God’s; because they will be good kids, if I have anything to snarl say about it! Essentially, I resort to control. Fear robs my—well, my grace.

(As if I need more persuading—I’m realizing my kids marinate in that atmosphere, I can be setting them up for insecurity—identity fixed on their ability to achieve or perform—or flat-out rebellion.)

Reality is, my home thrives not under fear or perfection, but beneath humility; beneath unshakable trust not in myself or my kids but God—and beneath that spacious place to grow and change that is grace. That says, Let’s work out a solution together. Or, I’m not comparing you to them, or myself to her; I’m looking for God’s ideal for you in the way He made you. Or, I get that you can achieve and look good—but where’s your heart at right now?

Of course activity can help remedy surface issues my concerns sometimes, as can my protection of my kids; my protein smoothies and educational DVD’s and screen time popsicle sticks. In fact, the actions that follow out of faith might not be that different from those proceeding from fear. But a home operating out of faith and quiet confidence, rather than reacting and stewing and coiled little scribble-heart of stress?

There ain’t no substitute.

My absolute favorite line from the movie Mom’s Night Out: I doubt the good Lord made a mistake giving your kiddos the mom he did.

Perhaps this should be my mommy-tattoo. I like how Isaiah says it: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Maybe in my life, this looks like

God knew exactly what He was doing when He gave you that sweet boy with crazy ADHD. He will give you everything you need, and He’s had a plan for that kid from the beginning of time.

God knew exactly what He was doing putting you in Africa with no grandparents next door and no soccer team down the street. He will give you everything you need to shape these kids.

Ahem. So. Allow me to present my revised flowchart:

anxiety flowchart chart 3

Paul David Tripp’s words nudge me in the back when I’m stewing/scribbling about not having what I need:

 You are essentially saying: “My problem isn’t a heart problem; my problem is a poverty of grace problem. If only God had given me ____, I wouldn’t have had to do what I did….”

Subtle patterns of blaming God are in the way of receiving the grace that we need. (New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional)

I could control and blame and fear, spiraling around all I can’t do. Or? I can trust that God has plans for all of my plans.

So—here’s to God slowly untangling my scribble.

 

 

Like this post? You might like

Confronting Our Fears All Over Again…Through Our Kids

Tweens, Teens, Control–and Having My Kid’s Heart

Shut the front door! And other thoughts on a worshipful life

The Necessity of Talking to Myself (and Not Just Listening)

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