Last month we hit a milestone in our house and my oldest daughter got her license. And not the drive-in-the-car-with-your-mom-while-she-yells-and-hangs-on-for-dear-life kind of license. It’s the “Mom, I am taking your car to the movies and then to McDonald’s with all my friends” kind of license.
And I have to be honest with you, while part of me was super excited that I could now make her drive to get all my groceries (don’t judge me), the other part of me was absolutely terrified. Like, every horrible car accident you’ve ever seen in the movies terrified.
And not because she can’t drive. Trust me, I’ve got $2000 worth of Deans Defensive Driving School invested in this kid and I feel totally confident in her ability to safely maneuver the roads. It’s because I am a mom and that is what we do. We worry.
It’s been a few weeks now and I’ll be honest, I don’t worry about her driving as much as I used to, but occasionally, worry creeps up on me again. And not just about driving, I worry about all kinds of things when it comes to my kids. I wish I could say it started the day she got her license but as every mom knows, it starts the moment they are conceived.
Cue pregnant Laila now: “Are they alive in there? Are they healthy? What if something is wrong?” Or “I had a Starbucks caramel macchiato last week with a double shot of espresso and turkey sub for lunch—I’ve definitely screwed her up now.”
Fast forward to the delivery and anyone who has ever had a newborn can tell you how terrifying that is. “Why are they twitching? They look weird, I’m sure they have Parkinson’s, Google told me they have Parkinson’s. Are they eating enough? Are they eating too much?”
Fast forward a few more years and you will find yourself hyperventilating outside the window of a kindergarten classroom because you know they are going to fall apart without you and the separation anxiety will surely cause them to need years and years of expensive therapy.
Okay, you’re probably reading this and imagining that I am some kind of crazy helicopter mom with a fanny pack full of bandages and hand sanitizer, and while there’s nothing entirely wrong with that (I do love a nice fanny pack), I can assure you, I am just a mom and I worry. All. The. Time.
Don’t act like you don’t do it too. We all do it. I’m pretty sure it just comes with the territory. Or so I thought.
You Can’t Trust God and Worry at the Same Time
Last week, I was driving to work and thinking about all the things I needed to do for my kids that day and feeling totally overwhelmed. I knew there was no way I could possibly accomplish them all, and I started to spiral. I was totally convinced that somehow, someway, there would be a butterfly affect that comes full circle and punishes me for being a terrible mother.
And in that moment I felt the Lord say to me “Laila, don’t you trust me?” Of course I trust you, Lord. I just have to think about all these things… Again: Laila do you TRUST me? Wow. Talk about putting me in my place.
I wish I could say in that exact moment I saw the heavens open up and I suddenly felt totally better, but I didn’t. Not right away anyway. But it did get me thinking a lot about this whole motherhood journey and about how much we as moms worry. It got me thinking about what I was thinking about.
See, I’d like to think I’m strong in my faith. I trust God with so many things in my life. I trust Him with my job, I trust Him with my finances, I trust Him with my marriage, and I even trust Him with my soul. But for some reason, when it comes to my children, I seem to keep them wrapped tightly in my arms, and in my mind, and in my heart, like I am the one who is supposed to protect them from every possible thing that could ever go wrong and lead them to a path of safety. Talk about a lot of pressure…
Of course, if you asked me, I would say I trust Him with my children, and I would probably honestly believe in that moment that I did. But when I actually sat down and took an inventory of my thoughts, I realized all my life there has been two constant parallels. I trust the Lord and I worry. And the Lord really started speaking to me about how I cannot do both at the same time.
Worry is the opposite of trust.
According to dictionary.com, “worry” means “to give way to anxiety or unease; to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.”
Trust, on the other hand, is defined as firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
We Need to Choose Trust
And the truth of the matter is, we have a choice! Do we truly believe in God’s ability, reliability, truth, and strength? Do we trust Him to take care of our children? To make up where we lack and to bring them into the fullness of His glory? Do we trust that His plans for them are good and that He is perfectly capable of accomplishing them without our help and direction?
Or do we give way to unease and allow our minds to dwell on difficulty or troubles? Why do we believe he can save our souls but not our children? You see, I think the enemy knows that if he can get us to fix our eyes on our worries, it keeps our eyes off Jesus. We have spent so much of our time worrying about things that could or couldn’t happen, trying to control and analyze every possible outcome for our children’s futures, and to be honest, it’s distracting us from the bigger picture.
And that picture is this: God loves us and—newsflash—He loves our children too. He created and designed them. He knew our children before we did, and He has a plan and purpose for them regardless of whether we do our part or not. Yes, regardless.
Do we have a huge role to play in their lives? Absolutely. God chose you to be their mom and you will have a huge part in shaping them and molding them. But the idea that if we mess up or someone else messes up it ruins God’s plans is just plain silly. That would mean that God’s plans would be dependent on our ability and if that were true that wouldn’t leave much hope for any of us. He knows it’s not our jobs to protect them from every single hurt or pain that may come their way and there is no way we could ever do that. It’s not our job to worry.
God Held Me Close When I Was Lost
Let me give you a personal example. In my teenage years, I experienced some things that no child should ever experience. By the age of 14, I was living on the streets. I got into drugs and gangs, and honestly, I should’ve been dead before the age of 18. I didn’t have my parents to help me. No one was watching over me, no one was tucking me in at night, no one was reminding me to go to school, or to eat kale or brush my teeth.
There was no one to pick me up from the hospital after I was discharged for overdosing and there was no one at my bedside when I wound up right back there. And yet, here I am. Completely set free and living a life I could never have imagined would be available to me. Were things supposed to be different? Of course they were, but we live in a broken world and sometimes things go sideways.
And just because the people in my life left me down doesn’t mean the Lord did. I look back now and I can see His hand was upon me through every circumstance. He was going before me and working through all of the broken people in my life to bring out His plans and His purpose for me. And it just reminded me that if He was there for me, He will be there for my children. And the same is true for you.
As moms, I don’t think we will ever stop worrying completely. But that doesn’t mean we have to allow it to have a room in our house. I am learning every day to do what I can and surrender the rest to the Lord. To lift my children up to the Lord instead of grasping them tight, to love and pray and protect them as much as this earthly body will allow me to and to trust that the Lord will do the rest even when I cannot see it.
I am learning to trust that although I love my kids more than life itself, the Lord loves them even more and He is faithful, He is capable, and He is good.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” —Psalm 139:14-16
Listen to Laila talk more about the reality of being a mom in this podcast episode: How Do We Handle the Messiness of Motherhood? with Laila Schell – 168