One of my favorite things about church is the worship. I belt out worship songs with my whole heart—not caring who hears me. There are songs about God’s love. There are songs about His holiness. But some of my favorites are the anthems that remind us of His might and sovereignty.
It is strange how I can sing boldly on Sunday morning that I won’t be afraid though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea (Psalm 46) and yet hours later I have some parenting concern that sends my anxiety through the roof. Boy, O boy, apparently I have faith for earthquakes and landslides but somehow it melts away when I face a teenage boy.
Perhaps you’ve heard the adage that parenting small children is physically exhausting and parenting older kids is emotionally exhausting. It is true. When my house was full of four children all of whom where 5 years old and younger, I often felt out of control. But now, with a house full of teenagers, I know I’m not in control. They are rapidly becoming their own people, making enormous, potentially life-altering decisions every single day and that terrifies me.
The thing is I love my boys. They are great people making great decision. I really like being with them. Yet deep in the recesses of my mind and heart is a fear that there are hidden parts of their lives or truly terrible decisions threatening regularly.
The other night I was scrolling through Instagram before I went to sleep (bad idea), and I saw a post from one of my kids’ friends that sent me through the fear roof in a nano second. I immediately started obsessing about how that post would impact that young person, how it would impact my own kid and, of course, what I was going to do about it. I had a gazillion conversations in my head as I lay there, imaging how I could solve this dilemma. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night.
Gratefully, morning brought some perspective. After a long walk enjoying the first brightly colored fall leaves and listening to a few truth-filled podcasts, the sane version of myself returned. I did not need to save the world that day and my teenage son was not in mortal danger. In fact, that next night we had a great conversation together about the Instagram post.
Parenting our kids while our minds and bodies are amped up on fear is a recipe for division and conflict. When we are afraid, we try to control everything and everyone around us. I don’t know about you, but when I’m afraid I get louder and louder, probably starting a fear response in my kids as well. Then I start laying down rule after rule for my kids in an effort to protect them. By that time, all of us are in “fight or flight” mode and our rational brains are long gone.
Instead of fear, I need to fuel my faith. God is big enough to handle every parenting challenge I face. He will show me the right way to go (Psalm 23:3). He will give me the help I need (Psalm 46:5). Psalm 46 says that God makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. If God can manage all of that, surely, He can handle the four young men in my house, even if they do happen to make a bad decision or two.
So the next time I go through the parenting fear roof in a nano second, I will take a deep breath and remember that, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)” Before I go storming off to save the world and lecture one of my kids, I will be still and know that He is God and I can calm down and lean on Him.