Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Third Pause in Lent - Anxiety vs ... What?

Welcome to a third Pause in Lent! The participants are listed on the sidebar to your left, and it's great to see what people are doing and thinking as Lent continues. You'll have to put up with the distraction of my garden flowers again while I do my 'Pause' - I've decided to make these Sunday posts a weekly record of how things are coming on in the garden... Sunny morning vs cloudy afternoon, as you see!
And the title of my post is Anxiety vs... something.
In listening to God, and reading the various books and blogs put my way, I've realised how much time I spend worrying: feeling anxious, about the boys.If you asked me to list my emotions for the boys I'd hardly put 'anxiety' first on the list! Love, pride, care... surely these come first?
But if I measure the amount of time I spend 'feeling' those things like love and pride (in as much as you can measure anything like that!) I am rather troubled to find that I probably spend more time on anxiety than I do on love and pride.
This is disturbing, because if I try to show love and confidence, but am underneath feeling anxiety, that's going to come out, isn't it?
I know that anxiety can be seen as an expression of my love, but I'm pretty sure it's not the best way of showing it!
Now, I have some pretty good reasons for concern, so I'm not feeling anxious out of nowhere. You can skip the list of woes if you don't know me and want to get to the point!
Son 1's bad knee turns out to be caused by a very mild version of a bone disorder that causes lumps and spikes to grow at the ends of the long bones. He hardly has this at a disfiguring level, but may still need an operation(s?) to remove the lumps that are making it dangerous for him to do sport or even run around with his dog. If you add this to his dyspraxia, trichotillomania (very well-controlled now), eye-appointments and underachievement at school due to handwriting difficulties and stress, then you will realise that he and I have spent quite a lot of the last months going from one appointment to another, sometimes hearing difficult news. I fear I am turning into the kind of mum who exaggerates or imagines problems for her child, instead of just accepting that he is who he is! I don't think I am, but some cause for anxiety in his situation...
Son 2 is pretty hunky-dory at school now that he's redoubled, and has made good friends. Fantastic news! But he gets very tired and irrationally angry at times - no surprise for a 12-year old whose brother is getting lots of attention, but it's taken me, Ben and my dad some serious thinking about to handle it well.
So here they are, my jeunes pousses (which means both growing youngsters and sprouting plants - great metaphor).I know that I am anxious about them, and self-awareness has now shown me that I am anxious far too often and about far too much, to actually be doing them any good. Anxiety can push me to make appointments for poor old Son 1 and get his medical and educational needs seen to, but it can't actually do anything else positive. On the down side, anxiety can rub off on them (a cause for Son 2's anger, even?) and can give them the deep-down understanding that things are out of control.
What is the alternative? I took the book 'The Power of a Praying Parent' off my shelves just before Lent, and decided that I needed to go through it for a month - there's a prayer each night for your children. Despite not being quite 'my kind of book' (American friends, have you noticed how we Brits express things differently to the way you're used to? This book is a bit of a challenge in that way) it's still a fantastic reminder that the real way to help your children is to turn each worry, each anxiety, into a positive prayer rather than a pointless pity-party.
I can't possibly sum it up better than Saint Paul did:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6
Don't forget to visit Spiritual Sundays as well as the other Pause in Lent posts!


Elizabethd said...

Such a thoughtful post, Floss. Anxiety is like a creeping plant, putting down mean little roots, and very difficult to get rid of. But I think that if one recognises it, it becomes easier to deal with, with God's help.

Betty said...

Yes Floss, I am an anxiety merchant as well - youngest boy x asperger/adhd always worrying about how this will affect him through school/exams etc., and oldest boy - worrying about him going to crowded London football matches, going to Spain with his youth group - it's hard not to be anxious but I do it daily too - so your post is a timely reminder to put our trust in God and remember that we are guardians of our children and not their owners - too much anxiety and caring can be smothering but it takes real willpower to step back. Betty x

Anonymous said...

Hello Floss,
remember that as well as being an parent, you are YOU also! So rebalance yourself, first off. The book sounds a great approach to this and there are many others ranging from regular walks, yoga, sports, visting museums, listening to music etc all things that put you back in touch with you (yes even ironing hankies) and can all be fitted into the day. Start to put yourself in the forefront, Floss as a person, not "mother", "wife", "friend", "helper" and, and.... PNow and then pay attention to your thoughts and responses during those "times out" and learn to let things slide a little.

Do this and you will gradually stop feeling anxious and regain the joy, pride and all the things you feel should be there when you think of family. Sometimes it is difficult to do this "backing off" - have a look at my latest post and you will see what I mean.
In the meantime, you are on the right track, keep going! The garden is a good place to start with a book and favourite beverage.
Take care

Unknown said...

Hi Floss, I can really relate. We are dealing with a variety of health issues with different family members - near and far. And I love that you are using my favorite prescriptions - lots of prayer, including Scripture prayers, and praise - no matter how you feel. I love the passage you quoted and lean on it often, along with verse 7 - And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. AND verse 8 which you wonderfully shared in your first Pause in Advent. :) 1 Thess. 5:16-18 is another one I was quoting to myself A LOT last night! :) Had to keep working through it A LOT (twas a bit frustrated over a situation :) ). But when we "take our thoughts captive to the Lord" like this, continuing to fix our eyes on Him, it truly does make a wonderful difference. Praying for you and your family!!! :)

And ohhhh - what lovely flowers! We were back to snow last night!!!! But just a touch. Quite pretty, though CHILLY. :) Blessings to you!

Marigold Jam said...

It never goes away Floss eithe! I asked my Mum once when I might expect to stop worrying so much about my daughter and she said "Never - I still worry about you"!! But there is all the difference in the world between being just a little concerned and being completely anxiety ridden. I am beginning to learn to accept my girl (well woman now of course) and to know she will always do things which cause me concern but that I can't do anything about any of it and I am really finding that I am much less anxious now and work on the principle that everything will work out as it should even if it is not how I think it should!! Think of marigolds (soucis) and try and imagine your worries (soucis)as bright marigolds!

Nikki (Sarah) said...

I think flowers are a way to remind breath easy...let go and trust God....thanks for this.

Angela said...

yes to all the above.
I was feeling anxious about the daughters on Friday and Bob said "The thing that gives me strength is that GOD is writing their story, and we can trust Him"
It is getting the balance between unneccessary anxiety and loving concern that is hard
Lenten blessings xx

Jen Walshaw said...

I too am axious, for all sorts of reaons and can see why you would be. I hope that I control my anxiety as much as I can, but I am sure part of being a parent is worry

Heidi said...

my nephew had Dyspraxia and now he's a handsome almost 18 yearold and you would never know he had ever had any trouble before....your in my prayers, I love your verse!

Unknown said...

Thank you for that Floss. It is so easy to be anxious for our children, especially when they have extra needs, and so difficult to just leave it all to God. But that is where they are safest, in God's hands. Prayer and above all praise is a sure way through, and I need to keep that reminder to be thankful (my word for the year) before me.

Charlotte said...

You certainly have cause to be concerned. It's easy to let concern progress to worry. I'm glad you are reading the book. Sounds like it should be very helpful. Your plants are a good illustration. We do what we can for our children and then leave them in God's hands. It's comforting to know that He loves our children even more than we do (if that's possible.)
Thank you for sharing your heart.

Vintagesouthernlife said...

Beautiful, heart felt post. I often take my worries to my Father's feet and tell him I can't carry them anymore.It's good to know that He has a plan for them and that it is for their good.
Have a good week,

Forthvalley scribe said...

It's important to remember that the problems your chldren have are not just their problems, which you have to sort out. They also have a direct impact on you, in terms of the demands on your time and attention (not to mention the empaty we always feel). So what I am saying is that you have to remember that you too are under stress, that you need care - and at least let yourself off some of the scolding! Martha gets a lot of bad press, because she is so busy, but in medieval spirituality she is seen as a very special friend of Jesus - it's a useful corrective!

magsmcc said...

Floss, I've just been thinking about the huge amount of anger and anxiety that I was battling last Lent. One of the suns was an enormous source of worry, and I was crippled. I have my Lent journal open at the day where I read Isaiah 55:12- the promise that I would go out with joy and be led forth in peace. The proliferation of the future tense in Isaiah has always reminded me of the determination of the future tense in French- the sureness of these promises.

Lola Nova said...

I can so relate to the anxious parent feeling. I am not always but, lately with so much going on, I find myself worrying a lot. We just want our children to be happy and healthy. I am trying to take a brief pause each day to count the positives and laugh at the silly. It helps to push away fears.