If you are a Mom, worrying is part of your toolkit. At least it is in mine- so I am going to talk in the plural, because certainly I am not the only one!
Why wouldn't we worry?
- Our new driver heads off in a car to the unknown streets
- Our student struggles with learning difficulties, laziness, difficult schedules, bad teachers, or unkind "friends"
- Our once-loving toddler has morphed into a surly, growling hulk
- Our child faces physical or mental health hurdles that seem insurmountable
- Our teenager voices his or her growing doubts about the reliability of Scripture, deity of Jesus, or the existence of God
- Our son or daughter succumbs to the addictions of alcohol, drugs, or porn
The list of issues is endless. Of course we are worried! The real issues confronting our kids cause our resolve to quake and our insides to melt.
Worrying is normal.
The deal is: we don't want to stay there. It isn't healthy for us or our relationships. I also sense self-condemnation when I worry about my kids. Where is my faith? Why don't I trust God? Don't I think Jesus can handle this?
My enemy wants me to feel shame so I don't approach my Heavenly Father in prayer. Yet the Word tells me plainly, "...there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1).
For years, I assumed the guilt I felt resulted from realizing the Father's displeasure. But what if that condemnation is from an enemy who only wants to cripple my response to my kids' problems? What if worry is a tactic of the enemy to distract me from effective action? Oh my- that changes everything!
We don't face an omnipotent (all-powerful) or omniscient (all-knowing) enemy. But, we do stand toe-to-toe with a wily one. He has no scruples, so parading around in the false robes of righteousness is not below him. He gleefully taunts us about our lack of faith.
Think about how distracting my frustration at my own lack of faith becomes. My focus changes from the battle for my child through Jesus, and zeroes in on my disappointment in myself. Anything that turns my mind from my Savior to myself is not from Jesus. It is an attack.
Paul Was Worried
2 Corinthians 11 sheds a whole new light on my problem. Paul saw Jesus face to face and laid his whole life down in service to the gospel.
Yet, even I feel a kinship to him as he describes to the Corinthians how he feels and acts about them, his "children." In verses 1-3 Paul states he:
- hopes they can bear with his foolishness about them (vs. 1)
- Ever feel foolish as a parent? Do your kids ever think you are unreasonable and possibly a little crazy?
- is jealous for them with a godly jealousy (vs. 2)
- Ever desire more for your kids than they want? Ever over-do-it as you aim to protect them from wrong desires?
- is afraid their minds will be led astray from Jesus. (vs. 3)
- Ever fear the direction your kids' minds/hearts are taking?
Paul was afraid for his spiritual children. Boom! I am not the only one!
His fear for his "kids" was well-founded. They faced an enemy whose desire was for their testimony and their souls.
The Corinthians faced the same crafty enemy we do today, one who:
- deceives, to lead the mind away from the simplicity and pure devotion of Christ (vs. 3)
- disguises himself as an angel of light (vs. 14)
- has servants who disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (vs. 15)
Paul was worried, and he had every reason to be.
He was also tired. (Once again- is it only me? Because that sounds awfully familiar.)
I realize I have not endured what Paul did: imprisonment, beatings with lashes and rods, stonings, shipwreck, robbers, wilderness dangers, and more. (vs. 23-27)
Some of his complaints, however, I identify with keenly: labor and hardships and sleeplessness occurred regularly during my mothering career. Paul confesses to feeling inferior (vs. 5), unskilled (vs. 6), and foolish (vs. 16).
Oh Paul, don't I know it!
And then there is verse 28: "the daily pressure of concern for all the churches" (or in my case- all the kids). That's right, we are not imagining it. Our concern for our families produces DAILY PRESSURE. Paul understands mothers and how interconnected our hearts are with our kids. He asks the church, "Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?" (vs. 29)
Who indeed, Paul? Who indeed. Every issue my kids face penetrates to my marrow.
What is a Mom to do with all this worry?
How To Escape Worry
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 precedes the chapter we have been talking about, and it contains the answer.
- 2 Corinthians 10:3: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.
- In other words, while our day to day life unfolds in the flesh, we fail if we fight spiritual battles with fleshly weapons. So how do we confront the challenges and pitfalls facing our kids?
- 2 Corinthians 10:4: for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
- This is a spiritual battle we are entering for our kids. But worry impairs our ability to wield our weapons- weapons that are DIVINELY POWERFUL and designed for destroying strongholds of the enemy. And what will these weapons attack?
- 2 Corinthians 10:5: destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
- Divine weapons don't just attack issues in my kids, they also take all my silly, worried, self-centered thoughts captive.
And what are these divinely appointed weapons? Of course, the best list is the "Armor of God" in Ephesians 6:13-17. In this Scripture, each spiritual activity is tied to a physical item: breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:13-17)
We make toy versions of these to help our kids learn each piece of spiritual armor. I am not saying that is bad, but spiritual warfare is not a game. And it is easy to overlook HOW we are instructed to use these weapons.
- Ephesians 6:18: With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.
How do we put on our breastplate of righteousness and shoes of the gospel?
***with all prayer
How do we hold up our shield of faith?
***praying at all times
With what power do we put on our helmet and hold up our sword?
***by petitioning with perseverance
Battle Worry With Prayer
Our plan to battle our kids' issues is PRAYER.
Our plan to battle our WORRY about our kids' issues is PRAYER.
Prayer is the one weapon that will always work.
Yes, it is normal for us to worry about our kids. But in God's incredibly efficient economy, the activity which most effectively wages war for our kids' hearts, also protects our own.
So let's pray every time the worry creeps its way into the front of our thoughts. Let's beat it back with petitions and pray it into submission with perseverance.
There is nothing better we could do.
My book Unceasing: A Parent's Guide To Conquer Worry And Pray With Power gives a specific strategy to wage the war against worry and to pray effectively.
Sign up on the form below for more information about its release.