Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
—1 Peter 5:7
Have you ever received a text from your teenager/young adult saying, “Anxiety really bad this morning. Going to class late. I don’t want to move.”? How do we process these words when our child is away from home? The feelings associated with not being able to help or be with them are far from fun. I have wanted to pack my bag, jump in the car or plane, and go make everything better. How about you? It’s hard, isn’t it? I’ve learned to slow down in the moment, get quiet, remember the promises God has given me about my child, and text my close friends for prayer support.
When my children sent that uneasy feeling kind of text, I encouraged them to do their best to get quiet, turn on some worship music, pray, and allow God to take away the stress and anxiety. I let them know that God is always there, waiting with open arms to comfort and meet all their needs.
By grace, I’ve been able to choose trust in God’s ability to meet my children’s needs in every way. I intentionally thank Him throughout the day for making himself known to my children. It’s gotten a little easier to trust Him since I raised my kids. He is always faithful.
I’ve realized I must give my children the freedom to choose Jesus and press into Him. I can provide encouragement and tools, but I cannot save them or become their savior. Jesus does a much better job at this; and for that I am grateful.
When one of my children are distanced from me and text about their fears or anxiety, often I can only check in that evening via Facetime. Until then, I choose to believe he/she is learning to lean into God. He is writing a story in his/her life, and He will use it for their good and His glory. It helps me to understand that science backs up the power in faith.
I read an article recently on how anxiety, fear, and stress impact the brain. The amygdala, an almond-shaped section of the brain, is responsible for a chemical response when negative feelings occur. A simple way to combat these uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety is to breathe deep, practice meditation, and gratitude. Meditation will help calm and shrink the amygdala. Deep breathing will help get more oxygen to the brain, and gratitude will shift thoughts away from the amygdala and move us toward the prefrontal cortex. The PFC is where we can think clearly, be creative, and make good judgments about our circumstances. The amygdala lives in the back part of the brain and is activated during fight, flight, freeze, or appease moments. Slowing down and taking time to develop a consistent habit of deep breathing and meditation will improve mental health. The benefits of adopting these practices will heighten your emotional intelligence and lessen your emotional response. In other words, it instills a steadiness or calm into your reply or being. Secondly, you gain more mental clarity. Third, you become more self-aware, and your empathy increases. Lastly, your attention span grows giving you the ability to stay attuned and present.
God has instructed us to meditate for a very good reason, like those stated above. He nailed this anxiety thing thousands of years ago. He knows exactly what we need, when we need it; and He has provided much encouragement through the scriptures, particularly the Psalms. Find the ones that speak to your heart and pray through them, until they become part of your DNA—teach your children to do the same for their anxiousness, stress, or fear.
God desires the Word to automatically bubble up in you when anxiety rears its monstrous head. Psalm 121:1-2 says, “I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help. But then I realize that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth” (TPT).
There are many more examples of meditation in the Bible. Genesis 24:63 says, “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening.” The main reason God directs us toward meditating is to achieve perfect peace. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV)
How do we become steadfast in our minds? We focus. We get quiet. We meditate. “Keep this book of the law always on your lips, meditate on it day and night” (Joshua 1:8 NIV)
Philippians 4:8 makes it quite clear the kinds of things we are to think about. God knows these thoughts will keep our minds in a good, clear, and life-giving place. We are to think on what is pure, lovely, and of good report. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh God, my rock and my redeemer” (NIV)
All of these verses point us toward obtaining peace in this world. Peace from anxiety. Peace from fear. Peace from stress. God came to give us his peace. It is his gift to us. He tells us in John 14:27, “I leave the gift of peace with you; my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts; instead, be courageous!” (TPT) This brings such comfort to the souls of my family, and I pray it brings just as much to yours.
What are you struggling with today? Fear? Anxiety? Dread? Will you ask God to pour over you (or your child) His warm and calming balm of peace? What scripture verse will you grab hold of for you or for your child?