On Monday, June 4th, I sent this message to a dear friend of mine, “It’s much easier to say God loves our kids & has great plans for them when you hold them as little ones. It is much harder to take your hands off and let them go walk in their journey.”
On the morning of June 5th I took my 18 year old son to the airport for a 10 day trip to Greece and Italy.
The Anxious Mom
That’s me, the anxious Mom. The Mom who has not traveled herself overseas, trying to lead my son into this. Sending my son who lives in rural farmland where a daily commute does not include a single stop light, to the Greece & Italy. He doesn’t speak the language, he doesn’t really understand the currency or the customs, and he will have opportunities to choose things he can’t have here due to differences in legal age limits.
The doubts, fears, and anxieties in my mind are intense and vivid. Everything from their plane crashing into the Atlantic Ocean, to pickpockets, to poor choices that lead him down paths of trouble & destruction. There are many dark scenarios that run through my mind, bring my heart into turmoil, and upset me.
All of this stress and strain makes me, well, about an average mom. This is not the first time I have been anxious in my role as a mother. There are a plethora of times I have been anxious as a Mom.
It begins with a positive pregnancy test. Will I be a good mom? Can I handle this? How will we adjust? Can we provide all they need?
From then on the moments of anxiety multiple exponentially. When you first hold them in your arms. When others ask to hold them. When you take them to the doctor for check-ups. When they have to get immunizations. When they go to daycare. When they go to school. When they get hurt. When they stay with a babysitter. When they go on a field trip. When they switch schools. When they are overnight with others. When they participate in a sport. When they go to camp. When things go wrong with friends. When they are sick. When there is a death in the family. When they learn to drive. When they start dating. When they graduate. When they go to college. When they move. When there is a break-up. When they start a career. When they enter a serious long term relationship. When they get married. When they have kids. When they change jobs.
I know all of the moms out there will understand completely when I say that is just a sampling of the things that can bring anxiety to our thoughts and hearts.
Have you found yourself, as a mom, anxious for your own children lately? What circumstances are causing anxiety to rise up within you?
As a mom, I wish there was an anxiety override switch. Something that I could click to reroute the thought time and expanse of energy spent on being anxious to being productive.
I have learned in my experience that an anxious mom sets an anxious tone for her home. Anxiety creates an environment of being at an edge, and places all who enter in under the strain of stress.
Never have I ever seen a wall hanging welcoming all who enter to join into anxiety and stress. I hope I never do. Who would want to come knowingly into that? One might as well place a giant STOP sign up, the kind that is outlined in flashing lights warning all who enter.
The sad part is that our kids know, our husbands know, and others around us know. They see the flashing stop signs when Mom is anxious. They probably see it better than we do as anxious moms.
The switch, that can help all anxious moms reroute and repurpose that anxious energy, is the Holy Trinity and the truth of scripture.
“When I was upset and beside myself you calmed me down and cheered me up” Psalm 94:19 (Message)
“Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in great turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:19 (TLB)
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19 (NIV)
“When the cares of my heart are many your consolations cheer my soul.” Psalm 94:19 (ESV)
“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comfort delights my soul.” Psalm 94:19 (NKJV)
The consolation and comfort of the Lord is a conduit to reroute thoughts & energy from anxiety to cultivation.
We need to move from anxious moms to cultivating moms. It is only on the Lord’s strength that we can do that.
What is a cultivating mom?
If you look up the word cultivate on webster.com you will find three main definitions.
- to prepare
- to foster growth
- look for influential people
These are the kinds of moms that we need to become. Moms who prepare their kids for the journeys they have ahead of them. Moms who foster growth for their kids physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, financially, and relationally. Moms who look for influential people to be a part of the lives of their children and influential people for their own lives
I wanted my son to go on this trip so deeply. I know it is an incredible experience and an opportunity that will leave him changed from it. This trip will help him learn so much more than I can teach him. As a family, we were willing to make sacrifices of time, talent, and treasure to help him have this.
It’s not like we just decided last week that we were going to drop him off at the nearest international airport with a ticket and some cash. This trip is nearly two years in the making. He is traveling with 33 other students, teachers, and parents from our school. He is under the leadership of an incredible and well proven tour company. He travels with advice and counsel from friends & family members who themselves have traveled abroad under many different circumstances.
Cultivating takes time, talent, and treasure. Cultivating requires energy, effort, and expense. Cultivation produces calm, cheer, joy, and delight.
This opportunity for my son has been deeply cultivated. We prepared, we fostered growth, and we looked for influential people to assist, guide, and pray us through the process.
Pack of Prayer Warriors
As anxious moms, a great influence to have in our lives is an intercessor, a person who will pray on our behalf. My family has asked 10 specific individuals to be in prayer for my family while my son is on his trip. They have been absolutely incredible. I am deeply grateful for the covering of prayer that we have because of them.
We as moms also need to be intercessors for our spouses and our children.
We can find ourselves rationalizing our anxiousness out of our desires for our children. Our wishes to keep them safe, our longings to see them succeed, our hopes for them to have rich joy. We use our power, our strength, our talents, our time, and our treasures to try to protect and provide for our children.
“If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others.” Richard J. Foster
I am a mom of limited means. My time, talent, and treasures are limited. I am tasked to cultivate the best I can with what I have at the time I have it, as a steward. But, to really love my kids and cultivate the best for them I need to turn them over to the Lord of unending time, unrestrained talent, and unlimited treasures.
As an anxious mom, I need Jesus.
When I am upset and beside myself Jesus will calm me down and cheer me up.
When doubts fill my mind and my heart is in turmoil, Jesus will quiet me and renew my hope and cheer.
In the multitude of my anxieties, Jesus’ comforts delight my soul.
I need Jesus to be an intercessor for me and for my family. “Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34 (NIV)
Live it Out
Are you an anxious mom? Are you worried and deeply troubled about a circumstance that lies before your children currently? Do you have doubts and a multitude of cares?
I encourage you to write down one version of Psalm 94:19 on a note card or post-it note. Re-read it ever time you feel anxious. Don’t feel bad it if means your note card is worn out by the end of today. Some days are like that for moms.
Take a few minutes to ask yourself if there are things you can do to switch your energy from anxiety to cultivating opportunities.
- What can you do to prepare?
- What can you do to foster growth?
- Who are influential people who may be able to understand and assist you in the circumstances you are facing?
Ask for prayer. Who can you bring your situation to for intercessory prayer?
Pray Through It
Beloved Lord, thank You so much for the way that You have tenderly crafted the hearts of moms to be so caring. Lord, we can so easily become anxious moms as our concerns, worries, doubts, and fears for our families rise within us. Lord, this anxiousness can put pressure and stress upon our families and drain us of our energy.
Please Lord, in those times, help us to turn to You and to Your scripture. When we have come to the end of our talent, our time, and our treasures, but want so much more for our families, draw us near to You. Help us to experience Your love and goodness for us as moms and for our families. May we experience the richness of Your calm, Your hope, Your cheer, Your comfort, and Your joy.
Help us to identify Your individuals of influence that You have brought around us. May we cultivate relationships for ourselves as moms and help cultivate relationships for our families.
Thank You so much, Jesus, for interceding for us, and for placing prayer warriors in our lives to do so as well. May the prayers help us switch from anxious moms to cultivating moms. May we prepare soil, plant the seeds, water them faithfully, and trust You to bring forth the growth, the fruit, and the harvest.
In the joyful name of Jesus, amen.