On Their Own

Thirteen years ago this fall we helped our first child move into his college dorm. Eleven years ago we helped our last child move into her dorm. Both experiences were tough for me. It was hard to leave a child on their own. We had worked hard to raise them well, under the nurture, protection and guidance of a Christian home. Not a perfect home, mind you. Lots of mistakes were made along the way. But we tried to teach our kids godly values and give them opportunities to learn more about Jesus.

However, when a child steps out on their own (to college or a job or other living arrangement) all bets are off. They are celebrating. You’re celebrating with them. But you’re grieving too. You realize you will no longer be their first defense when problems arise. They will be listening to other voices much more than to yours, and they may make poor decisions that could affect the rest of their life.

I was afraid for my kids when they started college. I had both rational and irrational fears cross my mind frequently.

I worried that they would quit going to church.

That they would get involved with the wrong kids.

Or that they would be lonely and not have many friends.

I was fearful for their safety.  That they would be a victim of a crime.

I was afraid they would be in a car accident. Or a freak accident like the dorm collapsing…

Fear can really do a number on you, especially if it is centered around your children.

How did I handle it? To be honest, I cried – because I missed them.  I talked and emailed with them as much as I could without feeling like a “helicopter parent”.

More importantly, I prayed for them daily; for their safety and for the Holy Spirit to guide them. And I prayed that God would take my fear and replace it with His peace.

Maybe you have a child who has just moved out of the house – to college or somewhere else.

Or maybe your kiddos are younger. You’re still worried about them. Your anxiety is more along the lines of them being left out at school or struggling with schoolwork. Maybe you are afraid that they could be kidnapped or in a school shooting. I hate that we even have to deal with fears like that today.

I’m not a psychologist, but I believe being concerned about the safety and well-being of our children is natural part of being a loving parent. Even so, we can’t give fear control of our lives or our minds. How can we keep fear from taking over our thoughts?

First, we need to realize that worry helps nothing.

Let me say that again.     Worry.     Helps.     Nothing.

It doesn’t protect our kids. And it can cause undue stress on our relationships. It can cause us to lose sleep, not eat, or eat too much. It can make us not very fun to be around.

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Matthew 6:27 NLT

And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? Luke 12:26 NLT

Second, when we feel ourselves starting to worry, we can give our fears to God instead.

He loves our kids even more than we do.

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. Psalms 56:3 NLT

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalms 55:22 NLT

Our children are only ours for a season. And as we let them grow into adulthood, we are to place their lives in the Father’s hands. Only God knows whether they will live a life that pleases Him. We pray that our children will yield to God’s will and that He’ll be able to use them for His glory. And we trust that no matter where life takes them, God is there. He’s with them. And He’s with us, too.

That’s why we can let go of the fear. Because we can do our part: pray. And we can trust God to take it from there.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Colossians 3:12-14 

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