June 7, 2019
How Traditions Mend Anxiety
In the future, when your children ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’you are to tell them, ‘The waters of the Jordan were cut off…” (Joshua 4:6-7).
Friend to Friend
Sometimes, I wake up to worry. I haven’t even opened my eyes before the anxieties wash over me. Some are weirdly specific (“What if my husband dies?”). Some of them are vague. (“Am I doing enough as a mom? A Christian?”)
As an anxiety expert (unfortunately), I know there are a million reasons for it and a million tricks to help it.
There is one, though, that consistently trumps my yet-to-be-troubles, and that is this: remember. Remember what God carried you through. Remember how He showed up last time. Remember the answered prayers. Remember, remember, remember. It’s remarkable how this recalling to mind calms my body and lifts my soul.
We humans aren’t so good at remembering, and I believe that is why God gave us the good gift of traditions. Traditions help us remember —remember His goodness, and all the many things that matter most in this life.
One of my favorite hymns, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come. And I hope by Thy good pleasure, safety to arrive at home.”This “Ebenezer”reference comes from a wonderful story in the Old Testament. The Israelites defeated their enemies the Philistines through God’s overwhelming help. “Afterward, Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying,‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’”(I Samuel 7:12).
Traditions, I think, are like our Ebenezer stones. Our faith gives us traditions of baptism and communion and special days that mark our weeks and years. And then we can add others. In our family, we ring in Saturdays with pancakes. We honor Easter with a Seder dinner. We celebrate being together with a “Summer Family Day.”One family I know celebrates an “answered prayer day”by making a cake and recalling the answered prayers from their family’s past.
Whether silly or serious, traditions like these are anchors in our days and weeks and years. They remind us who we are, what we love, and what matters most. In a world filled with busyness and distractions, traditions pop up and say, “Remember.”
It’s good to (fight) our worries by remembering God’s faithfulness. Even better? To build rituals into the fabric of life to remind ourselves who we love, and Who loves us. Like the stones the Israelites carried out of the Jordan River, these things remind us of the powerful God Who is with us even unto eternity.
Lord, like the Israelites of old, we forget Your faithfulness, we forget Your miracles and we forget how You have tenderly cared for us in the past. Help us to remember, and in light of Your goodness, help our worries to fade as we know that You will care for us now, as You have cared for us then.
Now It’s Your Turn
Do you have traditions in your home or in your life that remind you of God’s love? Do you have traditions that help you celebrate the most precious things? If your worries arrest you, combat them with the truth of Who God is and how He has cared for you in the past. And even better, create traditions which make you pause and remember the important things.
More from the Girlfriends
Jessica Smartt is an author/speaker who just released her first book, Memory-Making Mom: Building Traditions That Breathe Life Into Your Home. Join Jessica this month in a free Memory-Making Mom book club! Join us as we rediscover a whole slew of traditions to celebrate what matters most. Join the Summer Book Club here. Follow Jessica Smartt on Instagram.