Since Anna was born I have had serious ups and downs with anxiety. Sometimes simply because it’s all new to me, sometimes because Anna wasn’t doing well and sometimes because I’m trying too hard or gripping too tightly.
I recently found freedom in the distinction between God-given concern as her mom and God-ignoring anxiety. Any time I felt concern growing inside me I always deemed it a lack of trusting God and collapsed into knots covered in guilt.
I’m learning to reframe the tension:
In this moment of concern, am I depending on the Lord or myself? What is my experience with the anxiety?
Sometimes anxiety prompts me to pray more for Anna or seek wisdom on how to care for her — God-given. Other times an anxious thought steers me to clench more or try harder — God-ignoring.
I was listening to a recent podcast interview with Sissy Goff, author of Raising Worry-Free Girls. I loved her definition of anxiety: “An overestimation of the problem and an underestimation of themselves.” Themselves being our kid(s). Ingrained in me is a desire (and almost need) to be helpful. I anticipate as Anna gets older, I’m going to need to lean in super close to the Lord and follow His wise lead on when to help her and when to let her try, succeed and fail on her own.
But I loved what Sissy then explained, that when we quickly rescue them (oftentimes with a controlling or anxious motive) we’re saying to them ‘This is too big and you aren’t capable of handling it.’ Which is the opposite of what I want for Anna! If I don’t believe she can accomplish or handle something, she’s never going to believe she can either.
Our children are in our charge, decided and given by the Lord, and it is a weighty and wonderful responsibility. I’m feeling it deeply, the reality that my choices (although imperfect and sometimes messy or short-circuited or excited or worry-driven) make a direct and huge impact on my child.
Enter wisdom. God tells us to ask for it, and promises to give it. And I ask for it probably 5 times a day, and my daughter is only 7 months old! But since every child is different, each circumstance is unique and every season will bring new challenges and joys, it’s the only way.
I share my thoughts to encourage you: Don’t drape yourself in a blanket of guilt over concern or anxiety that crosses your heart; decide whether you’re trusting something or someone besides God in the moment. You’ll know the difference.
This originally appeared as an Instagram post, but I know it is going to be a practice for me for possibly my entire parenting, so I wanted to include it here with a few more thoughts.