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Two Truths and a Lie for Anxious Moms

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August 9, 2023

Motherhood is a rollercoaster ride! It is filled with the ups and downs of heartwarming moments and challenging twists and turns. Yet for anxious moms, this rollercoaster ride can turn them upside down and fill them with anxiety. Amidst the joys of raising children, worry and fear can creep in. In this article, we’ll look at two truths for anxious moms and a lie they often believe.

 

Truth: It’s Okay to Take Off the Supermom Cape

Anxious moms often think they must do it all: keep house, juggle work responsibilities, bake delicious and nutritious cookies, and still have time to recite the entire Bible. But let’s be real—none of us are supermoms. That cape doesn’t exist! And even if it did, we’d probably trip over it while chasing a runaway toddler.

Being a godly mom means focusing our energy and our attention on the things that matter most: God, first; your family, second. Having your priorities straight helps reduce your anxiety. Let’s see how Jesus helped Martha and Mary to order their priorities.

While Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him teach her, Martha was busy in the kitchen (possibly banging the pots and pans). She whined, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40). Jesus answered, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (10:42).

So give yourself permission to put down the cape, take a deep breath, and ask God to help you order your priorities. A practical help is to make a “who’s responsible?” chart. Focus on one of your tasks, such as “getting the kids off to elementary school.” Then make two columns: things I’m responsible for and things I’m not responsible for.

Depending on your children’s ages and abilities, your chart may include something like this:

Things I’m responsible for — Getting myself up on time, making a good breakfast, having a loving attitude

Things I’m not responsible for — Brushing their teeth, eating breakfast without dawdling, their attitudes

As you order your priorities, your anxiety will diminish. Remember, you’re not supermom and you’re not alone. God is with you.

 

Truth: Dump the Guilt and Embrace Grace

I’d venture to say that all anxious moms deal with guilt from time to time. We want our children to make godly choices, but sometimes they refuse, despite our good intentions and our prayers.

Maybe your preschooler keeps lying, or your middle schooler swears, or your high schooler refuses to turn in her algebra homework and she’s failing the class. Perhaps one or more of your adult children have turned their back on the Christian faith or are making poor decisions, such as racking up credit card debt or moving in with her boyfriend.

Does good parenting guarantee good kids? Nope.

Proverbs 22:6 is a familiar verse; one you may have committed to memory— “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This sounds like a promise, doesn’t it? But remember, the book of Proverbs is a collection of maxims that generally describe how God made the world work. You and I, and our children (whatever their age), have the freedom to follow Jesus or choose our own way.

So when you worry about your child and fear you’re to blame, replace guilt with grace and remember God’s unconditional love for you (Romans 8:1). God doesn’t call you to parent perfectly, he calls you to parent faithfully and trust him for the results. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

 

Lie: “Pinterest-Perfect” Is Possible

Anxious moms may believe the “perfect” lie; that is, everything must be perfectly organized, their children perfectly behaved, and all their meals “Pinterest-perfect.” They may inadvertently think—and teach—that perfectionism is next is godliness which can lead to moralistic parenting.

Moralistic parenting focuses on the externals:

  • Say, “Please,” and, “Thank you.”
  • Say, “You’re sorry.”
  • Play nice!
  • Say, “Yes sir,” and “No ma’am.”
  • Be a good boy (or girl.)

Who doesn’t appreciate a well-mannered child? Who doesn’t want them to get a good job, marry a lovely person, and not get caught up in the really bad stuff?

But God wants much more for your children. He wants them—and us anxious moms as well—to understand that our relationship with God doesn’t depend on what we can do for Jesus but on what Jesus has done for us. In short, we need the gospel of grace.

Here’s a picture of grace-based parenting. Say, your five-year-old daughter, Becca, has a bad habit of selfishness. So before going together to her play date, you pray together, thanking the Lord for friends and sunshine, and asking him to help her remember to share her toys. Later, at the play date when you see her share, you could say, “Becca, you’re sharing! Isn’t it great that God answered our prayer? You see, Becca, even though we all hate to share, God is more powerful than our selfishness. Isn’t he good?”[1]

Anxious mom, as you rest in God’s grace, you let go of the false god of control, recognizing that God is sovereign and that he loves you. Drop the supermom cape, dump the guilt, and let go of the “perfect” lie. Remember that God’s got you, even when your day is filled with coffee spills and endless laundry.

 

[1] Inspired by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus (Wheaton: IL: Crossway), 43.

 


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Author

  • Lucy Ann Moll
    Dr. Lucy Ann Moll serves as a senior counselor at Biblical Counseling Center based in Chicago and works remotely from her Alabama home, which she shares with her husband, Steve, and two frisky felines. She is a mom of three adult children and a grandma to Claire and Theo. Dr. Lucy is also the author of 'Help! I Get Panic Attacks,' published by Shepherds Press, and is working on a book on anxiety disorders.
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