Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Be Anxious for Nothing - Thoughts on Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Two)

This is Part Two in the series, “Three in Diapers: Thoughts on Parenting Through the Little Years.” If you’re tuning in now, please see the Introduction and Part One for context and foundation.

2. Be anxious for nothing -- As women, as moms, it’s easy for us to let our anxiety rule the day. I remember being in a birthing class when I was pregnant with our first. The doula teaching the class was giving helpful advice for managing pain during labor. She said one thing that has stuck with me through each labor and delivery since. She said something like, “Don’t think about what might happen or how much longer it might take to get through labor. Just focus on getting through the contraction that you are in. Most women usually only get in a bind when they start asking themselves, ‘How much longer is this going to take? What if it gets worse? I don’t think I can handle this much longer…’ They get overwhelmed by their imagination of the future instead of their present reality.”

I’ve always felt that that doula gave sound, even biblical, advice in what she said. The Bible exhorts us in many places not to worry, to be anxious for nothing, to trust God for our care and provision. And yet so many of our life decisions are based on the “what ifs” that we can imagine with dread.

I remember one book I read several years ago that asserted something to the effect of “God’s grace is not sufficient for our imagination; it’s sufficient for our reality.” In other words, we can so often look at other people’s circumstances, combine them with other possibilities, superimpose them on our future, and then cower, paralyzed by what we've conjured up for ourselves.

In doing this, we neglect the very real truth that God’s grace is sufficient for today and that He is glorified and strong in our weakness. Life is not easy. There are many unforeseeable events that wait around the corner of our futures. Yet we can trust that God not only foresees these events, but He is sovereign and capable to walk us through whatever path He has laid in front of us. We might stumble along the way (we probably will), but His grace is sufficient, and we are just called to be faithful right now.

And when you do feel overwhelmed and your anxious thoughts seem to be coming to life in front of you, remember Part One. My pastor has a phrase, “Look at your circumstances through the lens of the cross instead of looking at the cross through the lens of your circumstance.”

And for good measure, here is one of my favorite Spurgeon quotes: “Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.”

These two first points might be the very hardest for me to practically apply each day. It's easy to just get into life and to forget to take my thoughts captive and surrender them to God's governance. But thankfully, His mercies are new every morning and it really is quite simple truths that can calm and strengthen out hearts when we approach despair. We just have to pray for help and practice returning to these truths in our hearts and minds.

Stay tuned for Part Three!

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