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Numerous times during pregnancy with my first child I thought, When the baby is safely delivered, then I won’t worry so much about her health because I will see her and know she is okay. Oh boy was that misleading logic! A few weeks after her delivery, she slept through the night for the first time. Half-way through that same night my husband and I were in her room, worried if she was okay—was she still breathing? It is referred to as sleeping like a baby for a reason. The only people who didn’t rest well were the worried parents!
Parents like control. Scratch that, people like to control. Somewhere along the way, humankind convinced ourselves that so long as we can watch events unfold and control our environment then nothing bad will happen.
My daughter is now six years old, and I am sad to say my control issues have not entirely subsided in my first six years as a mother. I no longer check on her or her brother nightly to make sure they are breathing, rather, I check on them to steal kisses and enjoy the fleeting years that I have of knowing exactly where they are and whom they are with and that they are safe.
Recently I had a teaching opportunity in my church that took months of preparation. The week that my teaching time approached, my husband was out of the country on a mission trip--to a communist country with no communication no less. As if that wasn’t enough stress, I also decided to let my kids go to a half-day gymnastics camp. Let it be known: I homeschool. Our children have only been under the care of either me, family, responsible baby-sitters we trust, or the church nursery staff. Half-day camp at a public venue was a big step.
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We were familiar with the facility and staff, I had vetted them through other church friends whose children attended camp in the past, and everything looked acceptable. The morning arrives for the kids to go to camp and for me to go to Panera and prepare.
I literally felt sick with worry.
The tragic what ifs started rolling through my mind and I was scared to death to drop my kids off at a half-day camp. They were thrilled, but I was sick with worry—and guilt; guilt that if something bad occurred in my absence it was because I wasn’t taking care of them in our home where they were almost sure to be safe. I know that isn’t a guarantee, but it is at least what I like to think.
I texted friends who reassured me and told me they were praying. Their children are much older than ours and they hesitantly reminded me that it never gets easier to let go.
It seems we have either experienced the worst case scenarios and consequently fight the daily post occurring, what if’s, or we simply worry about the pre-occurrence worst case scenarios and pay the price physically, emotionally, and relationally. We misguidedly believe that our worry and subsequent aim to control our environment and the people within our environment only affect us, but the truth is, it affects all those we come in contact with.
How many times have you been around a worrier and felt your blood pressure and heart rate rise? Or, how many times has a well-intentioned worrier nagged you about a physical condition that is obviously nothing, but they choose to fear the worst WebMD diagnosis in your future that is imaginable? Or, maybe, if you watch a home recording of any kind you will see that you have met the worrier and the worrier is you!
The media and degenerate society we live in do not help our already eager tendencies to worry. With the summer news reports of dry drowning’s, SIDS, shootings, and violent protests around the globe, it is easy to see we live in times of turmoil and war. Are you feeling less worried yet? Hang in there—we are almost to the remedy.
I love how pastor and author Craig Groeschel phrases our worry, which he equates with distrust in God, in his book, Christian Atheist, “there’s really nothing you can do about a nonexistent worse-case scenario.” Pastor Groeschel goes on to say that “worry becomes a signal alerting us that it is time to pray.” (See Philippians 4:6-7, 2 Timothy 1:7, and Matthew 6:25, 33-34)
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Worry should lead us to prayer. (Philippians 4:6-7)
That morning, I practiced self-control over my worry and pressed on to Panera. In so doing, I accomplished much in my research and preparation for the class I was to teach. Thanks to the prayers of friends, and my personal obedience to hand my worry over to God in prayer, I enjoyed my soy-vanilla latte and the quite time that ensued void of worry. Moreover, my children enjoyed their morning at camp. If I had let worry or guilt cripple me to believe the lie, out of sight means out of safety, my children would have missed out on an opportunity to grow.
As parents, we only get one shot at protecting our children. I get that. We must complete due diligence in order to protect them and provide safe learning and playtime environments, but after we have done all that we can do we must trust God. Period. There will always be what ifs that we can chew on, but ultimately whether tragedy or triumph He is sovereign over our circumstances and is faithful to see us through whatever consequences we face in a fallen world.
I can choose to trust Him or I can choose to worry. It comes down to letting go of total control, because total control doesn’t exist outside of a scientific laboratory. Anyway, last time I checked, we are not raising lab rats. We are raising young men and women to put their faith and trust in Jesus, and follow Him with wholehearted devotion.
Brooke Cooney is a pastor's wife, mother of two, and foster-mom of one. To capture the eternal in the everyday, she blogs about family, faith, and lessons along the journey at ThisTemporaryHome.com.