At 2:00 a.m. I woke up in a panic, worried sick.
Are my children okay? Where are they right now? Who are they with?
Visions of a crashed car in a ditch popped into my head.
What if a masked terrorist mows down students in the quad with an AK-47?
What if an electrical fire rages through the dorm and my kids are trapped inside?
After my 3 children left for college, worry took over—especially at night. On and on the fear would run, ravaging my mind. Torturing my heart. And I’d lay there tearfully in the dark, filled with terror, wanting to protect my kids from things I couldn’t control and from people I didn’t even know.
If you’re a parent, maybe you’ve done this, too.
Wringing your hands instead of resting.
Tossing and turning instead of trusting.
Panicking instead of being at peace.
No matter how old your kids are, the desire to protect them never goes away.
But there comes a day when you can’t shelter them anymore. The older your children get, the further their lives spin out of your control. And if you’re not careful, worry can take over. Like a cancer, it can eat away at you, consuming your peace before you know it.
Or at least, that’s been my experience.
And while I’m definitely not a worry-free Mom now, I’m more at peace than ever before. I’ve finally learned to combat my worries with truth.
So can you.
When worry invades your mind and tries to take over, you can overcome it by holding on to these 5 powerful truths:
1. You’ve never really been in control.
Even when it feels like you are in control, you aren’t. Not really. And you never have been. There’s peace in simply admitting this truth, and even more peace if you embrace it. Remember when you attempt to control your child’s life, you’re attempting to do God’s job. That’s why it never works. The Bible encourages parents to trust God with whatever happens (Prov. 3:5). Here’s why: the Lord loves your children far more than you do, and He has a purpose for every life (Ps. 138:8), including your life and the lives of your children.
2. Peace is more than a just a feeling. It’s a daily choice.
You may not realize it, but in every hard situation, you still have choices. You can choose peace, even when you don’t feel peaceful. Here’s how: put your focus on God and take it off of the situation. As you ponder who God is—victorious, all-powerful, loving and your very own Savior—peaceful feelings will arise. This verse can help you:
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matt. 6:34 MSG
3. Easy, happy, carefree lives aren’t always best for your children.
I know this goes against every parent’s grain, but it’s true: suffering can produce more growth than a life of ease. But I admit that many times, I’ve tried to spare my children from consequences and suffering. Yes, I’ve tried to play God—as if I know what’s truly best for my kids.
After years of parenting, I’m learning to look at my children’s suffering differently. I’m learning to trust God (a little more) with their lives. I hope you are, too. The more you trust God in the midst of suffering, the more your peace will multiply.
4. God has bigger plans in mind for your children than you do.
Like all parents, I had big dreams for my children when they were little. But of course, things didn’t go exactly as I’d planned, and I had to learn how to set aside my agenda and to trust God to work things out. Believe me, this wasn’t easy. But now, I’m amazed at the beautiful and yet, unexpected things the Lord has done in my children’s lives. I’ve learned that He’s pretty good at arranging things—especially when I stay out of the way.
The Lord’s plans for your child stretch far beyond your imagination. He has friends already in place who will love your child one day. He may even be raising up a future spouse. Perhaps He has a family in mind for your child’s future or a meaningful career. Be willing to lay down some of your own plans, so you can embrace God’s plans. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.
5. It’s better to wish less and to pray more. Your children’s lives may look different than you’d planned, but you never know what God has in store. Spend less time wishing your children were different and spend more time praying for them. (I’ve listed some of my own prayers below to help you.) Here’s why: the evil one wars against your children every day, so they desperately need your prayers. While praying for your kids can be rewarding, sometimes, honestly, it can also be frustrating.
But don’t give up.
Remember, God’s answers often come in decades, rather than in years, so never stop praying for your child. And as you persevere in prayer, your heart will become lighter.
To inspire you to pray, here are 3 personal prayers I prayed after my children left home, along with verses:
A Prayer for Peace
“I have told you these things, so that you can have peace because of me. In this world you will have trouble. But be encouraged! I have won the battle over the world.” (John 16:33 NIRV)
Dear Lord, I’m worried. My heart is weighed down like a stone. My mind is racing. I feel so powerless. Help me to find peace right now in who you are, for you are good. You work on my behalf. Your love for me and for my child endures forever.
Lord, since you love my child far more than I do, I’m going to trust you to watch over him right now. I’m choosing to believe that you will work all things together for good—even for my child. Please bless my precious son. Protect him. Lead him. Enable me, and my child, to hear your voice, feel your love and have peace in you.
In the Name of Jesus, amen.
A Prayer for Hope
“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” (Is. 25:1 NIV)
Dear Lord, it scares me to see my child so hurting and broken. I want to fix the problem, but I can’t. Since I’m not in control (and have never been), I’ll leave it in your hands.
I praise you, God, for being so good, not only to me but also to my child. There are so many times you’ve come to our rescue. You’ve provided strength when we’ve needed it and a way through impossible situations. Because of this, I know you have a good plan for each of us, a plan you made long ago. I trust you to turn pain into joy, hardship into blessing and sorrow into hope. For “no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind has ever imagined the things you have in store for those who love you.” (1 Cor. 2:9)
In the Name of Jesus, amen.
A Prayer for Power
“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Is. 40:31 NLT)
Oh Lord, my child is weak and honestly, so am I.
But since your Spirit lives within us, I know we possess great power—help me feel your power and to know it more fully. Thank you for such an incredible gift! Right now, obstacles seem too big and problems seem too hard, so teach my child how to draw upon your power and use it. Teach me, too. For you are our strength, our hope and our anchor in this storm. I praise you for being all powerful. Grant my child (and me) the power and strength to face whatever comes today.
In the Name of Jesus, amen.
Struggling in prayer right now? I get it. Sometimes, I need a prayer jumpstart. That’s why I wrote this prayer eBook, A Time to Kneel. It’s a 14-day handbook of “prayer starters,” that combines inspirational truths and Scriptures to help you pray. Here’s what it looks like:
Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request this prayer eBook and I’ll send it to you!