Back To School Worry
I have entered new territory. I am now a school-aged mom! My oldest began Kindergarten today and my middle began preschool four mornings a week. This has altered our family dynamic and has freed up so much of my time.
I expected excitement for this new adventure of school. I welcomed meeting new friends for both the boys and myself. I embraced the personal time and personal space- oh the personal space with only one set of hands and feet clinging to me instead of three! I even prepared for the typical first year of “real” school worries: how will he learn to sit still, what if he doesn’t make any friends, what if he becomes unhappy and wants to stay home?
I used to be a chronic worrier. I worried that my alarm wouldn’t go off and I would be late. I worried about making a mistake in pen in my planner and needed to buy a new, perfect one ASAP. I worried about having freak accidents where my arms and legs had to be amputated. I worried about everyday life, far-fetched possibilities, and reality. Now this whole “kids in school” business has cracked the door to a whole new world of worry.
“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 your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
When worry would strangle me, I would pray this Scripture over and over. I would write it on my walls, in my cubicle at work, and in my car. When my mind began to wander (a fast pass for worry to enter), I would say a quick prayer, and the Lord showed up. Every time. He filled me with His peace and when your heart is full of Jesus your mind can rest in His faithfulness.
Worry/anxiety will not disappear overnight with one simple prayer. It is a constant struggle. Jesus told his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) The flesh is weak. We like to feel in control of our lives. We trick ourselves into thinking that worrying is being productive and will eventually solve the problem. Surely playing the worst-case scenario over and over in my mind will produce an aha-save-the-world moment, right?
J’s preschool years were a worry-filled struggle due to some behavioral issues. I remained glued to my phone just waiting for a call or text from his school. What was supposed to be fun one-on-one time for me and D (C was not yet born), became anxiety inducing, painful hours. I knew this wasn’t fair to J- who was still growing and learning, D- who needed my attention and care, or myself. Eventually, I forced myself to wait fifteen minutes between phone checks. I would say a prayer for J, I would read my verse, and I would waste time until it was finally acceptable to check my phone. Do you know what happened? Nothing. No calls. No texts. After a couple weeks I moved to 30 minutes between checks, but it was a natural progression and I wasn’t agonizing in between. Then one day I happened to look down at the phone and realized I needed to get in the car to pick him up! The whole school day had passed without me worrying or frantically checking my phone. My actions didn’t affect J’s day at school, but it did affect how I spent my time at home. I was able to enjoy days with just D and this lower stress level fostered a much more peaceful environment in the home (which can help calm preschool age behavioral issues).
Essentially, worry is a lack of trust in God. I have learned just how little control I have over my own life. I can plan, I can work hard, and I can do everything in my power to prepare; but that doesn’t mean that life will be perfect. If I remain in God’s presence and have trust in His provision and interest in my life then I can rest in the uncertain moments. I know I cannot be in control of every situation, but I am so thankful I know the One who IS in control no matter what comes my way.
Sometimes I still get caught up in my worries. For instance: did you know there are alligators in North Carolina? Especially after the hurricane last year, these gators are showing up in all kinds of places they don’t belong. My kids can’t even go too close to storm drains, let alone anywhere near ponds or rivers, on my watch! Not today, gators! But I remind myself that worrying isn’t solving the problem and I invite the peace of my Savior to fill me.
So I will enter this school year trusting in God’s provision for my boys and being filled by His peace. I choose not to open that door of worry and to focus instead on His faithfulness in getting our family to this point. As I pray for my boys every morning, I will echo King David’s charge for his son, Solomon, “Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and where you turn.” 1 Kings 2:2-3