I just counted how many tabs were open on my computer.
My husband never has 20 tabs open at the same time. When he walks past my computer he shudders. "How can you focus with all that clutter??" I tell him it's one of the mysteries of being a woman.
Women have a unique ability to keep dozens of tabs open in our brains as well as our computers. It's a blessing and a curse. It makes us great multi-taskers, but it also allows us to worry without even being aware of it.
In the middle of making dinner tabs start popping open in our minds: "What is really in this can of cream of mushroom soup? Is it even real food? I wonder if I spent too much at the store. I hope the toddler will eat this meal tonight. He is getting picky. I wonder if he will always be picky. Maybe he is malnourished and I don't even know it. Did I schedule their doctor's appointments? This week is already too busy. Are we spending enough time as a family?"
By the time we put dinner on the table we are stressed and we don't even know why.
How do we close the tabs to focus on the task at hand?
It starts with identifying what sparks our worries. Satan has special arrows he sharpens specifically for moms to rob us of the joy of motherhood. His goal is to replace rest with anxiety so the gospel will not shine through us to our families.
Which of the following three arrows do you most often find aimed at your own heart?
Arrow #1: Your Kids Will Fail.
When I was in junior high one of my best friends walked away from the Lord. By high school she had dropped out and was pregnant. Growing up in the church, my teenage brain was spinning.
"What happened? She grew up in a Christian home like me."
We all know Christian families who, despite their best efforts, have children who grow up and walk away from the faith. It might make you look at your own kids and think, "Will our kids be any different? How do we protect them from their own sinful hearts?"
There is nothing we can do to "save" our kids. No amount of preaching, AWANA, Sunday School, or Christian home school curriculum can cure their sin nature. That's hard for us as parents to accept.
But we are not left without hope. Far from it. God has given us a beautiful promise to cling to:
"Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6)."
This verse is not a guarantee that if we do everything right our kids will turn out okay. So what does it mean?
It's a promises that if we train our children in the Word, it will never leave them. It will stay in their hearts forever. They might go through times of suppressing it, but it will be there for the Holy Spirit to use as He sees fit. "Even when he is old he will not depart from it." That's huge motivation to keep teaching our kids the Bible.
But there's more. James 5:16 tells us, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are a righteous woman. It has nothing to do with your own righteousness. It's about Christ's righteousness working in you. God tells you that your prayers accomplish something.
Do you have a teenager who is going down the wrong path? Do you watch your sleeping baby and wonder if he will follow the Lord?
It does something.
In ways we will never fully understand, God chooses to weave our prayers into the sovereign plan He laid from eternity past to accomplish His will. Keep praying. Pray protection from temptation over your kids. Pray salvation for them. God promises that when you replace anxiety with prayer the "peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7)."
Teach. Pray. Trust.
Arrow #2: You Will Fail.
"God, You are sovereign. You are powerful and mighty. But me? If I can mess it up, I will. Please don't entrust me with anything important!"
Sound like your own thoughts? They actually belonged to Moses. When charged with the task of leading the Israelites out of slavery he responded, "Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else (Exodus 4:13)."
Sometimes motherhood is as daunting as herding a million Israelites through the desert. We're terrified of our own inadequacies.
It's particularly scary seeing our own sinful habits reflected in our kids. We want to protect them from making the same painful mistakes we've made...but we keep making them! "This job it too big, God. I'm not strong enough."
But when we question ourselves we are questioning God. Who made you a mother? Who charged you with this task?
Your task of motherhood was tailor made specifically for you, and you for it. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Just as our kids are our "workmanship," we must remember that we are God's workmanship. His hands are constantly on us, shaping us for the very task He has called us to.
Philippians 2:13 says, "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
He has equipped you for this calling. That equipping includes mercy to forgive you when you fail. Yes, it is too big for you - but it's not too big for Christ. Seek His glory in every situation and don't get sidetracked by your own failures.
Arrow #3: The World Will Fail Them.
In 2004 a movement called "Christian Exodus" sprang up. Christians from all over the country were pulling away from the corrupt government to start a commune in South Carolina. The goal was to eventually secede from the United Sates and become an independent Christian state.
Do you ever look around and wonder what kind of world your kids are going to grow up in? Morality has been turned completely upside down. Truth is distorted on every level.
What about dangers to their bodies? Maybe you have a child who struggles with severe health issues. My friend Elisha faced these fears head on with her suffering little one.
"I realized I couldn't do it. I used to think I could protect my family from cancer only to realize that the effort that would take would not fulfill me or make me happy. In fact, it made me crazy. Ultimately my time here should be spent cherishing the things God cherishes - people. In particular, my little people. If I do get cancer it is not the worst thing that could happen to me. What would be worse is if I spent all my moments focusing on avoiding cancer and not really living my life in community with believers. It's sobering to have constant reminders of the damage this world can inflict on our bodies - how much more our souls?"
Elisha's perspective shifted when she realized that trying too hard to protect our kids from this world comes at a cost. Sometimes it costs us our trust in God.
When you come across another disturbing news article about anti-Christian legislation, or a new study threatening to undo everything you thought you knew about nutrition, remember:
"This is my Father's world.
O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet."
Is God still on His throne even when your child ate processed food at a birthday party? When homosexuality appears regularly in school textbooks? When our country spirals down in economic collapse?
This is His world. We are His people. Nothing can change that.
We need to close the tabs, moms. Concentrate your mental energy on the tasks and the people God has placed in your path today. God has only given you enough grace for that. Our hearts were not made to handle all the hypothetical situations we can dream up. When we worry about the future there is no room to enjoy the present. Elisabeth Elliot says, "The past is in in His hands and the future is none of your business."
When your mind wanders in the middle of doing the laundry or making dinner and the tabs start to open, fill them with: "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8)."
You know what fits each of these descriptions? Jesus. Fill your mind with more of Christ.
And for all the "What if's?" - Quench them with this word of grace:
"God does not give grace until the hour of trial comes. But when it does come — the amount of grace, and the nature of the special grace required, is granted. My soul! do not dwell with painful apprehension on the future. Do not anticipate coming sorrows; perplexing yourself with the grace needed for future emergencies; tomorrow will bring its promised grace." - John Macduff