Vaping. Drugs. Sexting. Nudes. The problem of too much iPhone time.
These issues, among many others, provide the backdrop for today’s parenting challenges…and boy, are they challenges. I’m not so old that I don’t remember being a teenager. I’m a 90s girl, and we had our own set of challenges to deal with. We had teenage pregnancy, DUIs, kids dropping out of school, drugs, and promiscuity. I had friends who smoked, friends who partied too hard, and friends who got in trouble with the police. But I can’t escape the feeling that what we had to deal with back then is distinctly different from what our kids deal with today. Even though the root is the same, the expression of the root is different, and there’s no denying it.
So many parents I talk to are worried all the time about their kids.
- Not knowing how to lead them through challenges.
- Fearing the impact of wrong decisions.
- Struggling to stay true to biblical values in the face of enormous pressure to cave in.
- Staying connected to the Church when sports and other opportunities make it easy to stay away.
- Covid (enough said).
- Navigating social media (that could be a whole article by itself, am I right??)
The list goes on and on, truly. There is an endless supply of issues surrounding today’s teens that cause parents to spend most of their time worrying, and being anxious about whether or not they’re doing a good job…whether or not they even can. Raise your hand if you’ve felt it. Me too.
The reality is that none of us know exactly what to do or when to do it. And to make matters more difficult, there’s no, “one-size-fits-all” parenting technique. What one child can handle, another can’t. Some families need to take one direction, while others don’t. Our children are individuals, and it requires time, effort, and study to know how to raise them well. And in a culture where time is pretty hard to come by? Well, that’s just one more reason to worry.
But in the midst of all this worry, God’s Word has the answer.
And it isn’t rocket science. In fact, it’s almost so clear, so easy to understand, and relatively simple to put into practice that most parents overlook it entirely.
What’s the secret to living from a place of peace instead of a place of constant worry?
Philippians 4:6-7. What could be the most important verse for parents in the Bible that isn’t actually addressed to parents.
…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Let’s break it down into three, easy-to-digest parts.
1. Be anxious for nothing.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter right from the start, Ok? According to scripture, worry, or “being anxious” is a sin. It’s something we’re supposed to repent from, not a constant state of being we’re supposed to embrace. Is it normal to worry? Yes. Completely. But as I often tell my own children, just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s right. You, my Christian friend, are not normal. You are a child of the King, and because of that have privileges and solutions available to you that non-Christians don’t. With this verse, and other others like it, God is saying, “I understand,” and, “do this instead,” at the same time. He’s saying, “I’m going to show you how you can take Me seriously. Bring ALL your worries to Me.”
Refuse to be caught in a cycle of anxiety. When you feel it coming…when you don’t know what to do, go to God.
There it is. The pivot point. The 180. The about face. From a place of earnest humility, ask God for what you need. Pray.
Over the years, my family has experienced multiple scary things. Miscarriage, financial need, loss of loved ones, difficult moves, broken relationships, and more. Worry over these things has kept me awake for more nights than I care to admit. I’m not a stranger to racing hearts, shaking hands, and pleading with God to intervene, but God used that time to train me in prayer. Prayer is the answer to anxiety and worry.*
Some nights I fought my anxiety and worry by speaking the truth to my heart over and over again until, exhausted, I simply fell asleep. Other times I was like Jacob, when he refused to let go until God blessed him (Genesis 32:22-32). I wrestled the worry, pinning it with the truth of God’s Word, and refusing to leave a place of prayer until God blessed me with peace. Not necessarily an answer. Peace. Trust. Faith. And still others, I shoot up a quick prayer for wisdom, asking the Lord to give me the next right thing to do, the right thing to say, or the right state of mind and heart to handle the circumstance of the day. Just the other day, as my oldest son and I rode together to a baseball workout, he shared something with me that I didn’t have an answer for. So, while he was talking, I silently asked God for help. My son didn’t even know I did it! I just prayed to myself, “Lord, please give me what I need for him in this moment. Help me see what he needs so I can give him wisdom and lead him in the right direction.” I do this all the time, and there has never, ever been a time God hasn’t showed up.
3. Get peace.
This is the way I parent with peace. Philippians 4:6-7 is an, “If-Then” statement, and it’s proven true in my life over and over. I know it’s true. I know it works. I believe it can for you, too. IF we will humble ourselves and ask God for what we need—approaching Him from a place of trust that He knows all the answers AND knows how/when they need to happen to give Him the most glory—He will give us peace. And not just any kind of peace. I’m talking about the peace that surpasses our ability to understand where it came from and how we got it.
I didn’t say our prayers obligate God to give us the answer we want. Neither did I say that God won’t ask us to wait. But He will give us peace and wisdom in the waiting (James 1:5). Prayer is acknowledging that we don’t have the answers and that God does. Done from a sincere place of trust and faith in His ability to provide, peace is our gift in return. As with most things about this Faith, it’s a surrendering to the fact that God sees the bigger picture, and offering a prayer much like that of Jesus when He was in the garden, and said, “Not my will, but Thine” (Luke 22:42).
That kind of peace isn’t easily stolen by the world, and according to our passage, will provide a barrier, or guard for our hearts and minds, so that we have everything we need to parent our kids.
Don’t be anxious. Pray. Get peace.
If you need to breathe fresh air into your prayer life, or perhaps start a vibrant habit of prayer for the first time, I invite you to join me in my new 6-week prayer mentoring program called The Huddle. If you’d like to learn more about it, click the button below.
*In this article, I’m referring to the everyday anxiety and worry most parents encounter. There are more severe cases that could require help. I highly recommend finding a solid, biblical counselor to help you sort through it and come out on the other side. That said, I still believe prayer can and should play a significant part in overcoming any kind of worry and anxiety.