Anxiety in today’s culture is real. It has many faces. It arrives in all of our lives with various levels of acuity and for different reasons. As parents, it’s such a juggling act trying to lead our children in such a way that we are protecting them from worry that they shouldn’t have to endure, while leading them through appropriate amounts of anxiety – theirs and ours.
I probably feel most disappointed in my own parenting when I see my sons react in a similar, anxious fashion to me over problematic scenarios. We all want our children to be better and more successful than we are. It’s in these learned behaviors that we get immediate feedback in how well we are doing in setting them up for a more promising future.
Recently, I have been spending quite a bit of time in Philippians 4. It’s a chapter that has been referenced often over my years by pastors, parents, books, and cheesy desk knickknacks. But in this seemingly simple approach to life, Paul’s words have wrought new meaning for me in my 40s. Call it aging, or maybe it’s just that I am more willing to listen to God in these days. I have found this chapter to be so helpful on the heels of an incredibly tough year as a pastor, spouse, and yes, consequently, as a parent.
Here are some takeaways for our most anxious parents out there. I hope they help you craft your confidence, conversations, and competence in 2019.
- BE CONFIDENT: In verse 1, Paul tells his readers to stand firm! As believers, and as parents, we are loved deeply by those close to us. The truth that God loves us through our greatest fears and faults should help curb the feelings of worry. Stand tall today on the hope that your loved ones love and respect you deeply. They will be patient and supportive as you learn from mistakes! This is a unique depiction of God’s grace and mercy carried out amongst believers.
- SPEAK PEACE: Verses 4-7 give us healthy parenting dialogue to employ that will most certainly instill peace, rather than anxiety, in the lives of those around us. So much in our families is caught, rather than literally taught. Rejoicing in all things, demonstrating graciousness, and remaining thankful through it all will help lessen the unnecessary anxious impact of life’s trials. It won’t remove the trial, but instead this type of dialogue around the house will teach what a healthy and Godly perspective should look like when life deals us blows.
- ENDURING COMPETENCE: One of the greatest compliments that any child can gift a parent is one that says dad and/or mom did what they knew was best. How do we know what is best? In verse 6, Paul says that we ought to seek God’s counsel in our requests. If we seek the face of God for every meaningful decision as parents, we will look incredibly competent – and more like God! It’s a huge parenting win when we get to share how God gave us wisdom and faith to follow through on important decisions with our kids!
Verse 7 is the most commonly known verse in this chapter.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
This peace isn’t necessarily supernatural, but rather a peace that is incompatible with anxiety and worry. It’s a learned disposition of holiness rather than some random gift from God. Practice these anxiety-busting activities around your kids, and they too will begin to confront life with confidence, grace, and most importantly, peace!