Though it's tempting to want to fix your kids' problems, doing so doesn’t strengthen their faith or their ability to decide what to do when hard times come.
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
My 8-year-old son walked into my room before school one morning and declared, "Mom, I don’t want to have any anxious thoughts today!"
"I don’t want to worry about you not being home when I get off the school bus. I don’t want to worry about my teacher not liking my science project. And I don’t want to worry about Dad getting in a car accident! I wish I could be like other kids because they never worry."
Listening to him describe his fears made my stomach ache. Anxious thoughts had been a companion ever since I was a child, so I knew just how he felt.
However, I assumed my fears stemmed from hard things in my childhood during my parents’ divorce. My anxiety had solid reasoning behind it. My dad left before I was ever born. And by the time I was 2 years old, their divorce was final.
For as long as I could remember, I feared my mom would leave me too. Fear of rejection and abandonment followed me into every relationship I had for the rest of my life: with friends, boyfriends and even my husband.
Somewhere along the way, I accepted worry as a disability and settled into believing I didn’t have a choice in how it impacted my life. I let anxiety form a pattern in my thoughts.
Now here I stood with my son who’d declared he wanted a day off from worry! And I was determined to help him get it. I wanted to rip those threads of fear out of his thoughts and make sure he knew what to do with them.
I couldn’t take my child’s fears away, but I could equip him with the truth to face them courageously and fight them victoriously. I told Andrew, "You get to decide what to do with your worries." And I shared three powerful truths to help him:
Truth #1: Other kids do worry; they just don’t talk about it on the playground.
Truth #2: Worry and fear must be a normal because God tells us not to, over 100 times in the Bible.
Truth #3: God doesn’t just tell us not to worry or fear, He tells us what to do when we do!
I read today’s verse out loud from 2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." But a puzzled look on his face told me Andrew needed to know how to do that, so I described it in terms he could understand:
"Andrew, when you have a thought that makes you feel anxious, you have to decide to catch it like a baseball." I then cupped my hand like I was holding a ball and told him to look at it and ask, "Is this something Jesus would say to me?"
If the answer is "no" — then throw your thought back into the outfield!
For instance, worry says: "Your mom isn’t going to be home when you get off the bus."
"Would Jesus say that?" I asked.
"No," he replied.
"Then it’s outta here!" I told him, as I threw the invisible ball across the room.
Worry says: "Your teacher isn’t going to like your science project!"
"Would Jesus say that?" I prompted.
"Throw that one away, too!"
We talked through each worry, and I helped him decide what to do. Then we prayed and asked God to replace each worry with confident peace, and thanked God for ways He’d protected Andrew in the past, reminding him how good He is at being God.
After our collective "Amen" I looked up and Andrew had a big grin on his face. Then he said, "Thanks Mom!" as though all his worries were gone.
My sons are 17 and 20 now, and there have been many days I’ve wanted to take away their worries. I’ve been tempted to fix problems and sticky situations. But I’ve learned that doesn’t strengthen their faith or their ability to decide what to do when hard times come.
Instead, what our kids need most is for us to be there: to talk through their struggles, listen to their stories, pray through their worries and be willing to share God’s truths that have helped us decide how to face ours.
Dear Lord, show me how to be still and listen, and let You be God in my child’s life. Help me walk in Your truth and win the war over my own worry so I can share Your Word and show them how to lean on You when they come to me for help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 56:3, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." (NIV)
Don’t miss Renee Swope’s "Fear Not For I am With You" FREE printable. It’s a powerful reminder and tool to help us, and our kids, decide worry won’t get the final say — God will! Download yours and enter to win A Confident Heart Devotional gift pack.
Perfect for summer, Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart Devotional is filled with powerful stories, practical life-lessons and biblical insights to help you overcome fear and worry through the power of God’s truth each day! Order a copy here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How much does fear and worry impact your daily decisions and joy (or your child’s)?
What might happen if you took each anxious thought captive and decided which ones stay and which ones go, based on what Renee shared today?