(Photo by Jessica Castro on Unsplash)
Give thanks in all circumstances because
this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Last week I learned some new things about my son. Some things were hard to hear, and other things were informative. Since he moved away fifteen years ago, several months at a time might go by without us talking, but I believed we were close. When things happened a while back that were out of my control, I withdrew. I was sure I would make a bigger mess of things than they already were. So when a three-hour phone call happened, I was just plain grateful. My son is very talented and deeply thoughtful, and I desire with all my heart for us to be close.
When we took a trip a couple of weeks ago to see him and my other son, it was obvious to me that he wanted to spend time with us. I guess I wasn't expecting that. I wanted very much to know if anything had changed in his thinking but spent the first day and a half feeling anxious about bringing either subject up. The last full day of our trip, we were going to be together most of the day, and I wanted it to be good for everyone. Yet here I was overcome with anxiety. During my quiet time with the Lord, I asked Him to take away the anxiety if I was to keep my mouth shut. I asked God to replace my anxiety with peace and allow me to enjoy the day without fear that I would mess up. I asked Him to open up the door if I was to bring up anything, but if I wasn't, that I wouldn't spend the day wondering. I don't know what I expected, but instead of paying attention to whether God was answering, I just went about the day. It was the middle of the afternoon before I realized I had no anxiety and that I was enjoying the day without fear of messing up. I was just being me. I immediately thanked God for answering my prayer in such a tangible way.
The next week was my Birthday and my son called. I was in bed, so he called again the next evening. That's when we talked for three hours. My son opened the door to talk about the things I had wondered about earlier and again, I saw God answering my prayers very specifically. Although things have not radically changed on the surface, I was encouraged by our conversation. Little things that happened on the trip and in the phone call lead me to believe we can be close again, maybe even closer than we have ever been. I trust God is working below the surface. My son challenged me about some things, and I didn't know how to respond, but I am interested in understanding and not living blind. A couple of different days when I was reading my Bible, I came across verses that reminded me of how my son thinks. I thought, "Maybe God thinks this way too, more than I realize." Can God use our differences to move us closer? Of course, He can.
I've recently realized that I live with anxiety more than I thought. It's not the kind of anxiety that leaves you incapacitated or unable to function normally. In other words, no one can see my anxiety because it's easy to hide. But not from God. In that moment, I began to think of some things that are true:
God loves me and has provided a way even when I don't see a way
Anxiety changes nothing
Anxiety is an opportunity to be thankful and to pray
The opposite of anxiety is peace and God offers me peace if I ask for it
Trusting God is a better option
Wondering about things I can't control often leads to anxiety
Here are some things that God says:
Cast all your anxiety on Me because I care for you (1 Pet 5:7)
Cast all your anxiety on Me and I will sustain you; I will not let you fall (Ps 55:22)
I don't want you to worry because it changes nothing (Matt 6:34)
Commit your way to Me; trust Me and I will help you (Ps 37:5)
Stop being anxious; instead be thankful and tell Me what you need (Phil 5:6)
Don't dwell on the past because I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland (Is 18-19)
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2)
Some of you can relate to what I am saying because you also struggle with anxiety, especially when it comes to your wayward one(s). I hope this post has encouraged you. The "big" thing will be seeing our children return to the Lord, but meanwhile, don't forget to look for the"smaller" things that you can be grateful for. And don't hesitate to pray for the smaller things to happen and for you to be able to recognize them. When anxiety takes away your peace, or your joy, or your ability to trust God, I hope you will remind yourself of the truth and the things He says.