Monday, November 11, 2013

But What If...

If I had to come up with a list of things that I worry about, I think my kids would be near the top of the list.

I come from a long line of worriers, who passed down their wont for worry from generation to generation. Along with it came a penchant towards anxiety and a general sense of foreboding about the future. These same people also had a tendency to hold on to offenses, even small ones, and then take all those angry emotions and stuff them deep inside until they erupted like a volcano.

While I've tried to learn the value of positive thinking and talking about how I feel, I still have this propensity for worrying about--well, I think I worry about everything. But I especially worry about my kids, and if they isn't anything to worry about in the present moment, I will make something up.

I know what worry does physically and mentally. It can cause anxiety and stress, which each cause a myriad of physical issues, and none of them good (see this article on WebMD about the physical effects of worry). I also know that the Bible instructs us not to worry about anything (see this verse in Matthew about worry), but I can't seem to let it go.

And now it seems that I've passed down this generational tendency to my kids.

My son came home from school the other day with a sheet of paper, and on it was drawn several things that cause him anxiety--one of them being school. All he will say on the subject is that 'it's boooooooooring', but I know that something more is causing him angst. Maybe he can't put his finger on exactly what is bothering him, or maybe he just doesn't want to say, but in either case, I don't know exactly why school causes him anxiety. Which makes me worry.

While we were in North Carolina a few weekends ago, we had some time just the two of us, and I asked him why he worries. He didn't have a good answer. He also didn't have a good solution. I'm not good at memorizing verses, so I seldom have a Scripture verse at the ready, but I did tell him that it says in the Bible over and over again not to be afraid and not to worry. When he asked what I do when I'm scared or worried, I replied 'Well...I try to remember to pray.' Which is the truth because I do try, I'm just not always successful in my endeavors in that department.

Along the way on the trail we were walking on, it had grown overcast and had started to hail. A lot. I noticed that he had fallen behind a bit, and when I turned around, he was bent down on one knee, head bowed, hands folded. In prayer.

He jumped up, ready to go, and before I could be nosy and actually ask him what he was praying about, he supplied the information himself: 'I was praying that we wouldn't get wet, Mom.'

Well. That's all well and good, but it was hailing. And raining. In my mind, we were going to get wet.

And so I started to worry that his prayer wouldn't be answered and he would lose his faith quickly. So I started to pray, too, but not for the same thing.

I needed to pray for trust.

Trust that the seed of faith that had been planted would grow. Trust that God is stronger than my doubt and my worry. Trust that He loves them more than I do and ever will. (I also prayed that it really would stop raining on us, just to confirm everything.)

I have trouble letting go. I want to be in control. I worry, I fret, I get anxious and stressed. I look to made-up future events and worry over them as if they are certain to happen. The problem with this is that I often take God out of the picture, projecting myself into a future where I'm coping badly and I have no hope. But God is always present, and reminding myself that He will be with me in any situation and I will be able to cope diffuses the negativity and worried thoughts.

I don't believe in coincidence, but I do believe in the Divine. But I have to admit that when it stopped raining and hailing on us, when that big gray cloud that covered the whole sky blew over, when the bright blue skies--yes, cloudless bright blue skies were showing through the tops of the trees not even 5 minutes after he prayed, well, even I was a little surprised. My son didn't seem so surprised though.

After all, he had prayed.

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