Few things send me into high stress mode faster than a dilemma I have no ability to resolve or fix. But if the problem involves my children, the anxiety level kicks up several notches. When you watch your child struggle through something, knowing you can’t release the burden from them, it hits you in a place down deep. You can’t stop worrying about what may or may not happen, and your mind becomes a battlefield.
Although many details surround this season our family is walking through with our son, they can be summed up with two words: middle school. I thought going through middle school the first time was hard, but watching your kid go through it is a dozen times worse. And when you add the pandemic, virtual school, and all the other weirdness of the past year, sometimes my prayers come out with the only word I can muster the strength to say. Help.
I know my son will be okay, and he’s already making strides in the right direction. He will rise on the other side of this crazy year stronger and wiser, but I’m also realizing some things about trusting God.
When I face uncertainties in life, I have an opportunity.
I can either wring my hands and try to predict outcomes, or I can release the situation to God. I can be intentional about inviting him in, and seeking him in the midst of the unknown. One way leads to more stress and anxiety, and the other way leads to peace.
But here’s the key, and it’s one I often miss. This process isn’t a one and done mindset. It is a continual, moment-by-moment surrender. When I sense my mind trying to reclaim control or run ahead of God, I deliberately give the issue to him again. This is a soul that is governed by God. It’s the soul that hasn’t been forfeited to changing circumstances, but is steady and kept by his Spirit.
If we look at scripture, we see hundreds of examples of women and men of God practicing this. One of my favorites is in Psalm 42, where the psalmist actually commands his soul.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
This person recognizes the turmoil within, and knows where his soul will find comfort. The psalmist stops long enough to acknowledge what is going on with his emotions, and makes an active choice to put his hope in the only place that is unmoving and secure. In another verse, we see his soul thirsts for God like a panting deer thirsts for water. (Psalm 42:1)
I used to think surrender was passive, like a soldier raising a white flag on a battlefield. But as life forced me to acknowledge I wasn’t in control, I realized something.
Surrender to God isn’t a passive abandonment of the problem. It’s an invitation for the One who controls the outcome to take over.
It’s inviting him to pour out his wisdom to parents who desperately need it, and acknowledging that we don’t have it all together. The more my husband and I seek God’s direction during these difficult parenting years and admit that we don’t have all the answers, the more peace we find. He shows us the ways he’s working in our son’s life, and brings wisdom in unexpected ways. While we’re not on the other side of the hard stuff yet, we are learning to take it day by day.
As we do, our souls find rest. We don’t always get it right and sometimes we try to step ahead of God again. But when we do, he is the patient guide, leading us back to a place where we can find his grace in the moment. This is how we stop worrying and find peace. When life tries to derail us and take our minds captive to the chaos, we do it all over again. And it’s always worth it.
If you need to shift your focus from a struggle or worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“Shift” is a treasure, with bits of wisdom and truth to be discovered throughout the book! With so many hard days when we feel lost or forgotten and alone, it’s a beautiful reminder that a shift of my perspective from myself and my circumstances to God makes all the difference. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with holding on in the midst of a trial or even the monotony of daily life. Well done, Abby!” -Lorraine R.
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.