“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We aren’t usually born with it, this dark pressure that at times consumes us and distracts us from our relationship with God. For most, anxiety is a force that grows within in us like a weed as we age, disturbing the garden we grow, uprooting our work. As we walk through life on our path, it overshadows our journey, preventing us from realizing the true glory of God. But our God would not want this. He is the God of peace, hope and joy. Anxiety is a crafty tool created and used by His enemy to distract good people from their purpose and muddle up the path.
As a mom, I’ve struggled with anxiety many times before. What mom or dad hasn’t experienced anxiety as they parent? After all, we’ve been called to shepherd our innocent children through life and guide them to God. What a big, beautiful undertaking. We’ve been charged with keeping them safe and out of harm’s way. Yet, when we rely on ourselves without relying on God, we find at times that our path has been overgrown with thorns or the mountains are too steep to climb. We might feel like failures, struggle with guilt for our shortcomings, feel afraid for the future, or on some days, we might lose patience with ourselves and our family. Any of these feelings feed anxiety.
It is only through continued mindful practice that we teach ourselves to go to God for every decision in our life, with every struggle our family faces, and to rely on Him alone to guide our family with grace down the right path. We must teach our family to keep faith as we mindfully remember that “all things work together for good to them that love God,” especially during the times when we feel the weight of anxiety settle in (Romans 8:28).
As we help our children to grow and watch them struggle with the worries and troubles that come with life, it is essential to remember to guide them to the Bible for instruction and to teach them to “cast their worries on the LORD” (Psalm 55:22) through prayer and faith. As Jesus declared, “I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). By being there for your family member who struggles with anxiety, praying with them, for them and leading them to relevant stories and passages in the Bible that they can relate to, they can learn successful coping skills for the most trying of times.
Obviously, curing anxiety isn’t as simple as reading one blog post and then moving on with life. It takes effort to be mindful and go to God with all of our worries, to turn to Him for strength when we feel afraid and to learn how to replace our unhealthy coping skills with healthy coping skills. As moms and dads, working with our child who suffers from anxiety to teach them to think through their problem and to rely on God for this wisdom is important. We can pray for our own wisdom to help our child through a struggle too. Perhaps we will be given an extra dose of patience and empathy for our children as we pray, or we’ll be guided to a relaxing Worship song that helps our child, or we will find an amazing passage that resonates with our child and helps him or her through the fear.
Our Lord is God of Peace. His enemy would wish for all of us to suffer from anxiety so that we may be distracted from our Lord’s love and feel false distance between ourselves and God. But God is here for us at all times and so when we feel anxiety as parents, or see that our children suffer from this spirit-crushing ailment, we must take care to turn to the Lord and cast our cares upon Him every time. We must not doubt the good plans that God has for us. We must teach our kids to have absolute faith that things will work for the good and that if God is allowing us to go through something hard, He will get us through it. And, there is probably a lesson that He expects us to learn from the process-perhaps to grow in faith or to shape our spiritual development or character. Through prayer, reading scripture and keeping faith that God is more powerful than any of our problems, we can learn to pull the anxiety our of our hearts and let love bloom.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”