If I wanted to sound really Christian, I would title this post, “A Different Kind of Concern” because….
Christians aren’t supposed to worry, right? We call it “concern” to make ourselves feel a little more holy.
Actually, I should own this one and say this is what *I* tend to do.
It’s such a balancing act, this whole worry/concern thing as a parent. The Bible tells us NOT to worry. To trust Jesus in everything. And I don’t think he was exempting parents from that command.
Yet — for those of us who are parents, he’s given us this grand responsibility of training up children, of making sure they are fed and clothed and nurtured and loved and safe. So how do we do our best at that without worrying–or being, uh, concerned?
And that brings me to my challenge. As a mom of a kiddo with special medical needs, my worries/concerns have changed. Like, REALLY changed.
Typical Kid: Eh, it’s a tickle in their throat. Have some OJ just in case. Mucinex-R-US. Fine, I GUESS you can stay home from school, but you’re probably just fine.
Annabelle: Is this heart failure? Did she aspirate? Is it the flu? RSV? Do I call the ped or her cardiologist? Is it ER time?
Typical Kid: See, I TOLD you not to eat that candy! Here, lay down, watch some cartoons, and here is a pot just in case. Oh, and some Pepto for good measure.
Annabelle: Does she look dehydrated? Let’s check her temperature and oxygen levels. Does her stomach look distended to you? Let me press on it and see if it is hard or soft. Do I call the ped or her cardiologist? Is it ER time?
Typical Kid: Here’s a tissue. Probably allergies. Get your butt to school.
Annabelle: What color is the snot? Does she have a fever? Is she breathing okay? Let’s check O2 levels just in case. Do I call the ped or her cardiologist? Is it ER time?
Typical Kid: Crap. Probably strep. Get in the car, swab time. Oh, and here is some Ibuprofen. You’ll be fine.
Annabelle: OH MY GOSH PACK A BAG FOR THE HOSPITAL!!!!! RUN!!!
Now, I will say. I’ve mellowed a bit as she’s grown. I’m better at identifying a cold-cough from a congestive-heart-failure cough, or at least I know what signs to look for and am more confident in my abilities to see it. I still start discreetly putting things in a bag just in case at pretty much any fever level, but the panic has abated somewhat.
So where does Jesus come into play? What does handing our kids and worries to him look like when you have chronically ill children?
The more I’ve thought and prayed about this, the more I see worry as a focus, not an action. It is WISE to do things like check snot color and temperatures and oxygen levels and heart rates. It’s part of the norm for us medical-mommas.
And we would not be human if our pulse didn’t start pounding harder when those numbers aren’t what they should be. It is a normal, visceral reaction that God created us with, and that Mommy gut instinct is important to listen to.
So “not worrying” doesn’t mean we become unfeeling parents who don’t take responsibility of our children. Worry comes in when we focus on the problem and our lack of ability to fix it rather than on Jesus, the only one who can.
On a practical level, it looks like, when you have that oxygen monitor on your kiddos fingers and are seeing the number, what is going through your head? “Oh my goodness, my child might die. She might be in rejection or heart failure. What am I going to do?!?!?” vs. “Thank you Lord for oxygen monitors. Be with my sweet girl. Give me wisdom to know how to take care of her well.”
It doesn’t mean you don’t care for your children. It doesn’t mean that don’t look for all those signs and be diligent. It means you do it while trusting God to walk with you, every step of the way. While depending on his strength rather than your own.
In preparing for this blog post, I was reading Matthew 6 — the verses starting with 35 that talk about not worrying. This thought hit me that I wanted to share.
In the past, I’ve viewed worry as a sin. There are opinions both ways regarding that particular point, and I don’t know. Maybe it is technically.
But what I don’t see anymore is God sitting on his throne, frowning at me for worrying about my sick child. He is a GOOD God who loves me, and He knows all about watching a child suffer.
No, I think instead the Holy Spirit is sitting beside me, urging me to turn to Him. To set my worries in his capable hands and rest in the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that only trust in God can bring. He doesn’t want this for Him. He wants it for us, because it hurts Him to see us hurting.
I’ve said this many times, but looking back, some of the most peace-filled moments in my life were sitting in that hospital room with Annabelle, hearing machines whir and beep, with her life hanging in the balance, and feeling the unexplainable peace that only the Love of God can bring. There was no explanation except that God was near. He never promised me one additional day with Annabelle. I have always viewed each day as a gift. But He did promise me that he would be near to me each and every day, no matter what. That his strength was sufficient. That I could trust Him.
Worry brings no good, friends. It helps no one. It only festers and wears you down and inhibits your ability to make good decisions. It is the weapon of the enemy who wants to see us trampled on and crushed.
Trusting in God and going forth in his power and grace, that is when true peace will come.
Appreciate the heartfelt blog. I don't have kids, but I struggle with the "God is good ALL the time" in the midst of life challenges.
Amen to all of what you said. I also have never been through the struggles of an unhealthy child, but I sat by my husband's side through a long cancer battle. I like to say he lost that battle…but he won the war. Because I know where he is and it is far better than anyplace he had ever been here on this earth. With eternal perspective, we can handle a lot down here on earth. And we experienced that "peace that passes understanding" often. It is such a gift and I am glad to know that you have experienced it too. Hang in there my friend, and bless your heart. Dealing with a fragile child cannot be easy. But think how hard it would be without Jesus at your side. You have definitely tapped into the best source of strength there is!
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