The last two years I have had more conversations about fear than I probably have had my whole 16 years of being a parent. Nowadays fear is a common, daily occurrence for most households.
This is true of kids, and it is true of parents. Fear is a feeling all parents deal with. We have the great responsibility of raising our children and releasing them into the unknown, hoping and praying everything turns out well. However, living in fear is not the way that God created us to function. Living in faith is where we are intended to reside and thrive.
Faith is such an interesting concept. In Hebrews it talks about faith as the confidence of getting what we hope for and the assurance of things we do not see. To my logical mind this seems hard to comprehend. How can we believe in the unseen? How can we be assured if something isn’t for sure?
If you think about it, parenting is a bunch of faith filled actions. You and I are doing our best to make the right decisions and lead our children in a way that when they are older they will follow in God’s path for their lives. We are leading in hopes that we make the right decisions and they respond well. We will not fully see the results of our effort until 20-30 years down the road.
Breathe and Pray
Our initial response to fear should always be the same two things: breathe and pray. The best thing we can do when we feel fear is to take a breath. When we are anxious our heart and mind start to race. We need to first calm our body down so that we can think clearly. The second is even more important. We need to invite Holy Spirit into the situation. His job is to comfort, help, teach, remind, convict, lead, and guide with wisdom and revelation. We want Him involved in our decisions.
The next step in the process of operating out of faith instead of fear is to not allow our own F.E.A.R. get in the way.
Fear of the future and the unknown can lead us to play the “what if” game. The “what if” game is a dangerous game to play as a parent. It is a never ending spiral downward that can only lead to anguish and despair. “What if” often includes words like “never” and “always”. (Which is never the full story and always an incorrect outcome.)
We need to train our minds and words to follow every “what if” statement with a “but God” statement. Our child is never so far gone that God can not step in to rescue and redeem. The “what if statement” doesn’t allow room for the “but God” promises and truths in the Scriptures to come alive in our heart, mind and life. Don’t live in the fear of the unknown, live in the truths of but God promises!
If you have a child 12 months or older I can almost guarantee you have experienced the “joy” of having a child throw a fit in public. Embarrassment is real when it comes to parenting! No matter the age, there are times when your child doesn’t respond or do what you would like them to. Whether it is kicking and screaming in the middle of a Target aisle or not looking an adult in the eye when asked a question, embarrassing moments happen.
If our identity is based solely on how our children act, we will experience low self esteem more times than we care to admit. When this occurs we make decisions based on how to prevent embarrassment instead of doing what is best for the child in the long term. A candy bar bribe bought in the check out line here or there could eventually lead to a child who is entitled. A yes to the team sleepover party with different house rules could lead to your child being exposed to things on a phone at too early of an age. Our decisions matter.
It is important as parents to care more about our child’s heart than another’s opinion. Instead of focusing on how it will look to others, we should focus on training them in the way of the Lord. To seek after His heart and His Kingdom above all else!
I would not have classified myself as an angry person until I had kids. Anger is another real feeling you can experience in parenting. Anger is a secondary emotion, the result of another underlying emotion. Sometimes anger is the result of disappointment, either in your child or in yourself. Other times anger simply occurs because of irritation – they are messing up your plans or the moment. All of these are real, and it is okay to have these feelings. It is what we do with those feelings that matter. Do we respond in love or with an accusatory tone? Do we attack their identity or express displeasure in their choice of action? How we respond matters!
One surprising aspect of parenting is the number of times something happens and you honestly have no idea what to do. Frustration can mount when the same situation occurs time and time again, highlighting the fact that you don’t know what you are doing. Repeated frustration can lead to anger. I have a little secret for you, none of us know what we are doing. We are all taking it one step at a time. The only way to be truly successful is to walk step by step with Holy Spirit. He is the only one that knows the right response each and every time.
“What ifs” focus on the future. Regret focuses on the past. Shame and guilt spread quickly in this state of mind. We could always do things a little better. But fear can pile on the shame and guilt faster than we can process and dismiss. It is a different “If” game. If I would have only…then this wouldn’t have happened… or If I would have not… then this would have happened. Just like the “what if” game, the If-then game leaves out God.
We have to remember that God is in control, and He is a Redeemer. He loves our children more than we can ever imagine or feel. He created them on purpose for a purpose and he wants them to succeed. We will make mistakes. Unfortunately we will wound our children, hopefully less and less as we grow in our relationship with the Lord, but it will happen. We can’t allow Satan to shame us and cause us to freeze and be afraid to parent. Shame is not from the Lord. The Holy Spirit will convict us when we have erred, but we can take the next step to make it right, to redeem that moment. Asking our child to forgive us when we mess up is a restoration moment for your relationship. It is necessary and it is healthy.
Not Up To Us
Emotions are good. They serve a purpose. They are supposed to come, cause us to act and then move on. Unfortunately, sometimes these feelings try to stick around and take up residence. As we navigate this journey of parenthood don’t live in the “what if’, the embarrassment, the anger or the regret. Walk in the Spirit and live knowing He has good plans for you and your child. He will correct and guide. We can relax – it is not up to us!
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 1:17-20