By Janel Breitenstein
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.
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?
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 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 right now?
Of course activity can help remedy surface issues sometimes, as can my protection of my kids; my protein smoothies and educational DVD’s and screen time. Popsicle sticks aren’t bad. 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.
All to thee, my blessed Savior; I surrender all.
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:
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.