Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. (Phil 4)
This was part of our kids’ memory work this week, as well as being a key passage in the Ken Sande Peacemaker book we are studying. I’ve been convicted of how much of my conflict, with my kids or with others in our lives, stems from anxiety. Because I worry about something, I push and insist and pressure . . .which is met by resistance and spirals into conflict. Some friends know that a month ago we were in a sticky situation with our oldest, over his participation with boy’s soccer (called football here). For very legitimate reasons he felt unwelcome to try out, and rebelled against our push to get him to try and join in with the team (he’s in the odd position of being a “senior” student grade-wise and taller than most, yet also being younger, so that his 14 year-old strength and speed significantly lag the average team 18-19 year-old skills, plus he suffers from lots of old history with his sense of identity and other-ness and being excluded as a mujungu (foreigner)). I worried a lot, that he was missing an opportunity for friendship and belonging, for encouragement and accomplishment, for physical development. As a local “senior” it looked like his last year to be eligible. It was a battle. Yes, we asked for prayer, but it was anxious prayer.
In spite of my less-than-faith-filled pleas, God did answer. The first week was touch and go. But then he got into the spirit of practicing, and began to see himself improving, and it became part of his daily routine to return to school for two hours of practice in the late afternoon. This week we faced it all again when the official team was announced. Nineteen boys get to wear uniforms and sit on the bench during the games. About 22 or 23 boys were practicing consistently. Luke was in the handful not picked to be on the real team. Though he said he did not mind and did not want to get hurt by playing in the matches against other schools in the district, it did hurt him. The CSB team has so far played two games which they have won 5-0 and 13-0. The coaching and practice are paying off. Luke watched only a part of the first game, choosing to go home instead. So when the next non-game practice day came around, even though he was free to practice with the team I was pretty sure that he would drop out. But he and one of the other non-team boys stuck it out and went to practice anyway. Thank Him for all He has done . . . First for the miraculous change of heart in Luke to even try and play, then for the character and courage to continue participating without the reward of success.
There are so many things to worry about as a mother here. Another team kid fell out of a tree he was climbing this past week and escaped serious injury even though the fall was about 10-15 feet off the ground. Another had croup during the night, that raspy breathing that sounds much worse in a place where there is no emergency room to run to. Caleb ran under a low-hanging clothes line in the dim evening light chasing the dogs, and got knocked down with a linear red welt across his neck on Thursday. At least he did not re-fracture his arm, which did not heal as well as we had hoped. He has significant limitation of his elbow extension and wrist turning, but there is a country-wide shortage of xray film making it hard to investigate the issue. The physical dangers alone are plenty of worry-fodder, but now I find myself dwelling more on the emotional dangers, the taunting of groups of kids who call ours names as they go down the road, the struggle to make friends, to belong, to be on the team. With four kids in early adolescence or almost there, these identity issues are only going to intensify.
So the simplicity of this verse challenges my heart. Replace worry with prayer. There are only two options: be anxious about how your are going to manage life, or trust God to do it. Every time I think I’ve learned that lesson, especially in regard to my kids’ well-being, I find myself challenged again to take them to God.