“Lord, I pray for Emmie. She is yours Lord and…”
“All my children belong to you Lord, they are yours…”
“REALLY? They used to be.”
As I drove in the car and had this conversation with the Lord, He was gracious and kind to gently point out to me something so powerful that is destructive bondage in my life. Holding tightly to my children. I was raised by a mother who often said that we belonged to God, not to her. When my babies were in the NICU for 4 weeks after they were born, I constantly was comforted by the fact that God loved them more than I did and they ultimately belonged to Him, so He would take care of them. The sheer overwhelming fact of having a newborn baby, times two!, often thrust me to my knees, laying those babies down at the feet of Jesus and handing them over. But somewhere, over the past 2-3 years, I’ve taken those babies back into my arms and have begun to hold them very tightly.
I have felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility for my children’s well being and health and it has gotten to the point where I am completely consumed by their sleep schedule and what they eat. I quickly realized in the car how my mind is constantly bound to the clock and how I can schedule my day so that my son naps at 1pm, the children eat at 5pm and they are all in bed at 7pm – and I mean literally. I know how important sleep is to little people and I know how they get run down and sick if they don’t get their sleep, not to mention their attitudes. I start to stress out if it’s 7:05pm and they are not in bed yet. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I’m being honest. I have become completely consumed by their schedule and keeping it exact at all costs. This has been a huge source of stress and anxiety in my life. I didn’t know that until this moment in the car.
I feel the same weight of responsibility for what my children eat. Another area in my life that has become chains that keep me stressed and filled with anxiety. I feel that children are not old enough to make wise choices with their food and it’s my responsibility as their mother, and the person who buys the food and cooks, to give them the best possible nutrition that I can. Seems normal right? Every good mom does that! But for me it has become obsessive and another thing that dominates my mind. I freaked out the first time my mother watched my children and took them to McDonalds. Now let me make a quick disclaimer – I eat at Mc Donalds every now and again and I have a horrible sweet tooth, but I justify it by saying that I am an adult and if I choose to make bad choices, I’m old enough to do so. (Foolish, I know) I don’t think children are old enough or wise enough to choose their foods on a daily basis… but Mc Donalds here and there is not going to kill them.
I know in my heart of hearts that going to bed a half hour late or having less than nutritious snacks are not going to kill my children or make them sick. I know that. But I can’t shut off my mind from racing about these things and the guilt that comes with late nights or junk food for the kids. But God showed me that I am way too controlling over my children in these areas and I need to let go. I need to have a complete change of thinking and just relax about my littles and find freedom in doing the best that I can, but not being consumed in an unhealthy way about their sleep and what they eat. I also have been known to make harsh comments to my husband if he puts the children to bed late or takes them to dinner at a place I don't approve of. Rather than being grateful for a husband who gives me a break and cares for the children, I'm consumed by what they ate and when they were in bed. It's like a sickness.
Anxiety is a lot about control. If I cannot control something, I get anxious. God showed me that a large source of my anxiety comes from trying to control my children. Thank you God for loving me enough to kindly point this out to me and convict me. Thank you for loving me enough that you want true freedom for me and an abundant life. Thank you for breaking the chains that have shackled me to a lie – I do not control my children! They are not mine, they are yours. I give them back.
Last week I took my kids to Mc Donalds. My husband is out of town, I didn’t have any food in the house, and I let them choose. “Let’s go to Old Mac Donald’s Mommy.” I said ok and took them without an ounce of guilt. I felt complete freedom as we sat and ate the best French fries in the world! And I felt much better knowing that we all were consuming "Fancy Ketchup," - it must be good for us if it's fancy!
My strict adherence to a schedule and diet cannot create happy, healthy children. It’s only created a stressed out, guilt laced mother and we all know what happens when Moma isn’t happy! No one is happy! As a mother of 3 little children and a follower of Jesus, I’ll do my best and be wise with raising my children, but my only strict adherence will be to Jesus and His word.
*I want to thank so many of you for your e-mails, facebook messages and comments about this series about my anxiety disorder. I have been so encouraged by your words and your prayers.