Refuse Worry, Embrace Gratefulness
- Monday, August 27, 2012
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices. It was adapted from Susie’s book, Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places (Moody Publishers, 2010).
Assurance grows in unexpected places. I remember a particular summer day many years ago, when a single flower poking up through the ground brought me to my knees and moved me to tears. We were in the midst of one painful season after another. Apparently several spring and summer seasons had come and gone without much notice from me. For many years in a row, life had felt like a cold, dreary winter. It honestly hadn’t even occurred to me that my favorite seasons had come and gone without my noticing them.
There, in that place, life was still hard. I was still battling a disease while trying to parent three very young and extremely active boys. My energy level was still low and my faith still wavered from time to time.
Even money was still scarce but, like Jack and the Beanstalk, I had some seeds. Mine came in the mail. Maybe they were part of a gardening promotion, or maybe it was a neighbor’s anonymous attempt to help me put some color in my life. I don’t know. What I did know was that it was springtime and I had some seeds in my hand.
I rounded up my little guys and showed them the beautiful picture on the front of the packet. Then I opened it up and showed them the ugly little seeds inside. Luke wrinkled his nose and said: “Somebody’s not telling the truth. Those aren’t flowers.” I chuckled and then explained the wonder of life in a seed.
The boys and I padded out to the backyard and found a patch of dirt right next to our concrete patio. With six dirty little hands helping me to clear a spot for our seeds, we were ready in no time. I planted the seeds and we watered them. Then life got hard again and I forgot all about my little investment.
Our medical debt weighed like a big heavy boulder on my back. My uncontrollable and unpredictable battle with Lyme disease left me feeling as vulnerable as a woman living in a terrible part of town with no locks on her doors. Seeing the weariness on my friends’ faces (from helping me) made me wonder when they would wise up and find a new friend. Everywhere I turned, I found reasons to worry.
Did it really matter that I was a Christian? Did it matter whether I prayed or not? Could it be true that a small seed of faith is enough to move a mountain? The Bible says it’s true. But when I looked at the piles of problems in my life and looked at the promises from Scripture, I was tempted to do what Luke did: wrinkle my nose and say, “Somebody’s not telling the truth.” And the thing was, somebody was lying to me, but it wasn’t God.
I’ve known many women (and I was one myself) who, though they loved Jesus and considered themselves believers, regularly voiced their fears and worries in front of their children. We wouldn’t feed our kids poison for lunch, and yet we think nothing of spouting off all of the reasons we are stressed, worried, and afraid of the giants in our land. If our default response is to declare defeat in the face of our foes, then our children will assume that it pays more to worry than it does to wait on God. Their roots will be shallow at best because ours are too.
We plant seeds with every word we say. The thing is . . . are we planting weeds or something beautiful?
Not that we’re always going to do this right. We will all choose fear over faith on occasion, and each of us will do our share of spouting, pouting, and venting when our lives overheat. We are absolutely going to blow it from time to time. We’re going to yell, scream, clench our fists, and stomp our feet. There will be days when our hissy fits make us look like 2-year-olds dressed up in a grown-up’s body. It’s important to note that Jesus loves us even on those days. He knows how difficult it can be to parent little ones.
Life gets stressful and we are perfectly human. But God has made a way for us, right here, right now. We cannot get away from His love, and every situation is an opportunity to learn more about His faithfulness.
Regardless of the stress of our circumstances, this one thing is still true: worry looks at life without God in mind. Every single time I got tangled up in worry it was because I had lost my perspective. Like those rope traps that circle around your feet and turn you upside down, I had lost my footing, and thus, my frame of reference.
And yet Jesus tells us, “Do not worry.” Don’t do it. Don’t go there. Walk away from worry. Have no part of it. Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and don’t forget to thank Him when He answers.
We are the bosses of our perspectives. In my early years of parenting, I really didn’t fully understand this truth. Nor did I truly understand the impact of my perspective on my children’s lives.
My three boys had just finished breakfast and were ready to go outside to play in the sandbox. Everything was an effort for me, but I decided the fresh air would be good for all of us. We opened the sliding door and walked outside. Instantly one of the boys yelled: “Momma! Look!” Luke’s little chubby hand pointed to the dirt pile where we had planted seeds about a month ago. There amidst our makeshift garden stood one single flower. A healthy, beautiful flower.
I was instantly overcome. I plopped to my knees on the grass and put my face in my hands. And I wept. Seasons do change. Through my tears, I said to myself: “It isn’t winter any more. I can say for sure that it’s summertime. The sun is shining, and though I don’t feel all that great, I’m here with my kids, staring at a miracle—proof that it matters if I plant seeds or if I don’t.”
That flower was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. How is it that an ugly little seed could produce such a beautiful work of art? I couldn’t get my mind around it all. But I knew that God was speaking to me.
Even when we’re faithless, God is still faithful.
One of the greatest gifts you can give to your children is the gift of assurance, modeled by a heart of trust. Not that you pretend everything is always okay when it isn’t. But amidst your heartache and struggle, you can kneel down to your children’s level, look in their eyes, pull them close, and let them hear you say: “One thing I know. God will not forsake us.” Refusing worry is an act of faith that will strengthen you and bless your children.
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matthew 6:34).
1. As soon as worry creeps up, identify it, find its source (is it money, friends, marriage, kids?), and bring it to God. Refuse to entertain anxious thoughts. Apply faith to your specific situation and stand strong (Philippians 4:6).
2. Practice gratitude out loud every day. There are thousands of things to be thankful for. Find them and express your thankfulness to God.
3. Memorize a few Bible verses that speak to your specific area of worry. Pray them every day.
4. Get some exercise. This will do wonders for your mental, physical, and spiritual health.
1. Teach your children to pray by praying with them. Teach them how to thank God for the blessings in their lives.
2. When your children get stressed and worried, sit down with them and walk them all the way through their scenario. Teach them how fear and worry can lie to them. Help them understand God’s faithfulness.
3. If your child is going through an extended trial that is causing him to worry, make sure you are especially engaged with him during this time. Talk often; pray even more; help him sort through his feelings.
Susie Larson is an author, speaker, national media voice for Moody Radio, and the host of the daily LIVE talk show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson. Susie has been married for twenty-six plus years and has three grown sons and one beautiful daughter-in-law. Susie comes with a passion to see women strengthened in their faith and mobilized to live out their high calling in Jesus Christ.
Publication date: August 27, 2012
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