(Originally posted October 2015)
It’s a scary time of year for parents. Not because of the spooky costumes or creepy decorations, but because we voluntarily dress up our children and walk them around the neighborhood collecting buckets full of sugary treats, knowing full well what this will lead to over the next few days and weeks:
“Can I have a piece of my candy now?”
10 minutes later
“Can I have another piece of my candy now?”
“Does ‘one piece’ mean only one big piece or can it be three small pieces?”
“That’s not fair! She got to have more than me!”
“Can I have a piece of my candy now?”
Although as parents it may be tempting to just get it over with and let them have it all in one sitting (or just eat it ourselves), the magnificent sugar-high and subsequent (but no less magnificent) sugar-crash of a candy overdose just isn’t worth it! We know that the best solution is to ration it – a few pieces a day not only extends the holiday fun, but also teaches our children a valuable lesson.
I’ve struggled with irrational fears for most of my life. Maybe it started with my cousin telling me there were snakes at the bottom of my bed or maybe it was when I started sneaking into the back of the living room at night when my parents were watching “Unsolved Mysteries”. Regardless, my overactive imagination tends to get the best of me.
The day I found out I was pregnant with our first child was a high beyond all highs. I was finally going to be a mom! But nothing could have prepared me for the crash that was soon to follow.
As an information junkie, I wanted to know everything there was to know about pregnancy and babies. I joined online pregnancy groups and read every article I could find. And my excitement about being a new mom quickly turned into a barrage of horrifying “What if?” scenarios. I couldn’t wait until Ada was born so I could stop worrying.
Ha ha ha.
By the time our second daughter was born, fear had not only overtaken my parenting, but the rest of my life as well. I was in constant “control-mode,” believing that if I even let go for a second, something bad would surely happen to my babies, my husband, or myself.
Looking back now, I realize that my irrational fears were the result of an unwillingness to ration my thoughts. Whenever my mind drifted to one of those “What if?” possibilities, I allowed it to stay there as I tried to come up with ways to prevent it. And then, to make matters worse, I unequally portioned even more of my thoughts in that direction by going to the internet for information.
Although I still struggle with this on occasion (I may or may not have checked the bottom of my bed last night), I have made the choice to more effectively ration my thoughts.
Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
I’m not sure my “What if’s” will ever completely go away, but instead of giving in and stuffing my face with them, I can choose some much healthier options. The more I spend my thoughts on my God and everything that He is (He is noble, He is right, He is pure, He is lovely, He is admirable, He is excellent, He is praiseworthy!), the less I will be feeding my fears.
This doesn’t happen naturally. Philippians 4:9 goes on to say, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Just like rationing our kids’ candy may take some effort (or some earplugs – see quotes above and repeat at least ten times a day), “rational” thinking must be “put into practice”. When I expose my mind to God’s word in the morning, it helps me think about Him more throughout the day. When I listen to Christian music, I get lyrics of trust and hope and faith stuck in my head (even if the song annoys me). When I talk regularly with my wiser, more ‘experienced’ sisters in Christ, they speak truth into my life that I might not see on my own.
“And the God of peace will be with you.” God promises to be with His children always – His presence is not contingent on us putting these things into practice. But I’ve found that my experience of the peace that comes with His presence may very well be affected by it. Rationing more and more of my thoughts toward Him sure does minimize the tantrums, freak-outs and crashes I would otherwise experience!