Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Worry, Therefore I Am...

...a mother.

Back before our daughter was diagnosed with her various delays people quite regularly asked me why I was worried about her, and I would reply, "Because I'm her mom and that's my job." It is, unfortunately, also a part of my flesh that I struggle with daily, sometimes hourly. It is clear that God does not want us to worry. One could even go so far as to say that it is a sin to worry, at least when we allow it to distract us from our relationship with God, our rest in Him, or our responsibilities toward others.

I think special needs parents tend to worry a little more than the norm. We might think it is our right since everything about our children's lives can seem so uncertain at times. How will they function as they grow up? Will they have good friendships? Will they come to understand our faith? What effect will this have on their siblings? And on the list of questions goes. And yet I believe this gives us all the more reason to ask for and recognize the work of God's hand in our families.

In the sermon on the mount Jesus told His followers not to worry even about the food they would eat or the clothes they would wear. Jesus said that God generously feeds the birds of the air and clothes the flowers of the field with splendor without them lifting a finger and that God loves us so much more than the birds and the flowers. In the end, He says, "So do not worry, saying 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them." (Matthew 6:31-32, NIV) God showed me with this verse that worry is a form of idolatry. If we are so focused on the things we are worried about that we are running after them, then we're not following hard after God.

Paul gives us the solution to this problem of worry in Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV, emphasis mine) In other words, "Don't worry, PRAY!" For me this now means that every time I feel that anxious tight feeling building in my chest I breathe a prayer for resolution to whatever it is that I'm beginning to worry about. I try to catch it early and often.

A couple of years ago I heard a speaker use an illustration that has been very helpful to me as I have learned to let go of this habit of worry. Evidently a missionary she knew had given a talk about worry somewhere in Africa. A native believer approached the missionary and told him that he had noticed a difference in how Africans and Westerners bring things to God in prayer. He said, "You hold out your hands like a cup with hands outstretched in front of you, while we put our hands out as fists and open them palm down." When you offer God something with palms up it is easy to grab it back from Him and keep worrying about it....have you really let it go or is it still resting in your palms? However when you put out a fist and open it palm down, you cannot grab it back. It has already fallen away into the hands of your loving Father. There is a palpable difference in these two offerings. I know, because I've tried it. There is a definite sense of finality when you open a fist and let the worry fall away. Overwhelming peace immediately follows.
So if you worry as a regular habit in your parenting, consider praying instead, and really leaving your concerns in the hands of our Father.

1 comment:

SquiggleMum said...

Thanks for this post. I have to admit that I do struggle with worry. I know those verses about worry by heart! I think the hand visual will really help me next time there's a worry I need to give over to God.


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