I watched as my oldest son sat on the side of the pool, hands nervously fidgeting in front of him, tears in his eyes, and a cry on his lips. He didn’t want to be there. I tried to encourage him and instill confidence in him, to give him the strength to jump in, but it was no use. He worked himself up so much, he got a nosebleed.
“Mom, I’m afraid of drowning.”
He was on day three of swimming lessons, and let’s just say, it wasn’t going well. No matter how much I tried to tell him it was ok, I wasn’t going to let him drown, the teacher wouldn’t let him drown, the reason he was in swimming lessons was to learn how NOT to drown, it didn’t matter. Nothing would convince him that he could do it. He was certain that the floaties wouldn’t hold him and he would sink to the bottom of the pool.
He has always been my cautious child. The one who is hesitant to meet other people, who takes a while to get comfortable, and who gets scared easily. I’ve wondered if anxiety is something that he struggles with, and if that’s the case how best to help him. But as I watched him during his lessons, I noticed that a lot of his fear stems from a lack of trust: trust in his teacher, the floaties, and trust in his own ability.
How often are we not the exact same way when it comes to our relationship with God?
We Live in a Scary World
We all have things that cause us anxiety, worry, or fear. Maybe you actually struggle with anxiety to the point that it interferes with your life. There are plenty of things in life that can cause us anxiety: stress, job loss, fear of the unknown/ fear of the future, the well being of a child or spouse, financial trouble, school shootings, terrorists attacks – the list is endless. I know I’m not alone, because fear is a very natural feeling that stems from sin. We live in a world where it seems every time we turn around, there’s another thing to freak out about.
Because what is fear but doubt or lack of trust? Fear is a lack of trust that God will provide for you or doubt that the Lord loves you and will guard and protect you. Anxiety stems from our sinful nature’s desire to not only rely on ourselves for our own well-being, but to tell us lies that God doesn’t care enough about us or love us enough to actually do anything in our small lives.
I share this with you, because this is something I struggle with. Like many of you, I want to be in control. I like knowing how things are going to go. But I am also very aware of the sinful world we live in. And it seems as parents we can’t do anything right.
“Don’t be a helicopter parent because that’s bad for their development, but don’t ever leave them alone because they’ll be snatched away or CPS will be knocking at your door.”
“Discipline your children or they will become self-entitled brats, but don’t discipline them because it’s bad for their egos.”
“Let your baby cry it out because they need to learn to self-sooth, but NEVER let a baby cry it our because it destroys their brain and gives them attachment issues.”
“Only feed your children healthy, organic food, but don’t be to strict about it because they might develop disordered eating habits.”
“Don’t be an anxious, stressed-out parent, because that will create anxious, stress-out kids, but never for a moment relax because something bad will happen.”
Anyone else a little anxious?
Do Not Be Anxious
The passage from Philippians tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present you requests to God.”
Did you catch that? Anxiety and fear have an antidote. Prayer. Anxiety and prayers are two opposing forces. Praying about your fears, laying them at the feet of the Almighty God, suddenly makes those fears powerless. Because there is nothing the Heavenly Father cannot handle.
There is so much power in prayer to defeat fear and worry. Not only does our Lord hear our pleas and cries or fear, but he invites them:
We are all like my son, sitting on the side of the pool, terrified to actually trust that the teacher will hold us up. Do not worry! Trust that your Teacher will preserve you, sustain you, and hold you up! Whatever fear is holding you captive, whatever worries burden you mind, take them to the Lord in prayer. Jump in! Be confident that the Lord who won salvation for you, will always hold you up and keep you from drowning.