Over the past month it has seemed like it has been one scary thing after another. And by scary I mean worst nightmare kind of stuff…. the child in the gorilla pit, The shooting in Orlando, a drowning on our lake, the mom that had to beat off a kidnapper in a store, a friend losing a baby, the alligator incident (shivers)…I’ve literally had to breathe into a bag.
So we have ruled out zoos, movie theaters, lakes, Disney, and basically any place with a parking lot for family outings so it looks like we will just be staying home the rest of our lives. Sorry kids.
But of course we can’t just stay home. We can’t hide. We can’t live breathing into a bag everyday.
That’s not what Jesus wants for us. That isn’t “life to the full”.
One particularly heavy news day I was reading about “Joy” while studying the fruit of the Spirit. I turned to a very familiar passage, Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”
The overtly peppy tone of this verse annoyed me. Didn’t God know that REAL LIFE was happening?
Because I’m a nerd I looked up the definition of “joy” in the Greek lexicon. I found the word “chara” defined as a cheerfulness or calm delight. Also, it can be a greeting meaning “be well or thrive”. So I picked the two definitions that resonated most with me and replaced joy with them.
Calmly delight in the Lord always; again I will say calmly delight.
Thrive in the Lord always, again I will say thrive.
I soak in those words as a promise from a loving Daddy, not some super-spiritual cheerleader’s chant. You see when I am grounded in a theology of God’s impermeable love for me, when I get how big and deep and wide it is, I can rejoice-calmly delight and thrive-in all things because I know WHO holds all things together. And I know that He. Loves. Me.
Further on in Phil 4:5-7 I read…
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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 minds in Christ Jesus.
The words “The Lord is at hand,” jump out at me. Don’t you love that? He is literally right here, reaching out His hand to me. I think of all the times my little one reaches out for my hand—when she’s scared, needs help, or just wants assurance of my love and care. Holding God’s hand means He is ready to guide me, reassure me, comfort me, support me, protect me. It means I don’t have to be afraid. It means I can rejoice.
So how to be a courageous mom in a scary world? I don’t have it all figured out and I’m not 100% free from anxiety, but I’m leaning into Jesus and finding joy and peace. Here is what has helped me…
- Stay in the Word. Let the promises of God wash over you every day whether you have an hour or just a few minutes.
- Be thankful. It’s okay to hold your kids tight and it’s okay to be glad its not you. Even the mundane or difficult days are still days with your family-thank God for them.
- Memorize key Scripture to target your anxieties. Some favorites of mine are Isaiah 26:3 and Philippians 4:6.
- Pray! Talk to God honestly about your fears and anxieties. Psalm 62:8 says, “Pour out your hearts before Him, for our God is a refuge.” Also, pray protection over yourself and your family when you go to the grocery store, when you’re playing at the park, and when you’re at home. And pray for those involved in scary situations-that is the best thing you can do for them!
- Avoid excessive information. Yes, be informed, but that doesn’t mean you need to read every article or watch every news segment on a given situation.
- Focus on the pure, beautiful and lovely—avoid trigger TV shows or anything that floods your heart with evil. There are more and more shows I avoid because the content is just too scary for me. I KNOW the world is broken place, but I don’t need the brokenness and evil paraded in front of me for hours each night.
- Embrace beauty. Life can be very ugly, become a beauty chaser! Watch a sunset, soak in a bath, marvel at the colors in your baby’s eyes—rejoice in the beauty God has given.
Let’s loosen our grips on our breathing bags and tighten our grip on Jesus. The tragedies will come, but He is still good and He is still God.