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“To be human is to be afraid.” Edward Welch
I’m a mom of two boys, and the advice I receive most often is to let them do dangerous things. As someone who has battled anxiety since Jr. High, that advice feels daunting. I want life to be comfortable and happy, and the word “dangerous” does not fit with my goals. The longer I live though, the more I find out that even if I don’t let my sons do dangerous things, if I hover over them on the playground or never let them move out, pain will still enter our lives. Anxiety in motherhood seems never-ending.
The Origins of Anxiety
In a sermon on anxiety, Matt Chandler points us to the prosperity of Eden. Adam and Eve’s prosperity wasn’t just due to having all of their physical needs met, but it came from their intimacy with God.
Fast forward to the fall and separation from God where we now see death and decay. This reality leads to fear and anxiety, which does nothing but rob us of the delights of God.
Anxiety in Motherhood
What does this look like for moms? I believe we can see mom anxiety in three common scenarios. Read through these and see which one resonates the most with you.
1. Anxiety in Motherhood – The Busy Mom
There’s never a dull moment at her house! Always on the go, the busy mom fills her day with projects and says yes to every request. She hates to slow down.
Work is good and the Bible commands us to not be lazy, but, many times, busyness reveals our anxiety. Rest and silence give us time to think about our fear of being alone. The idolization of accomplishments and being known as a “hustler” reveals our fears of not having enough or of not having the approval of others.
2. Anxiety in Motherhood – The Depressed Mom
Overwhelmed by her responsibilities and the scary situations in her life, this mom retreats. She has given up because she feels powerless. Her fears may be legitimate, but they consume her and her hope for the future. She believes the worst will happen and there is nothing she can do about it.
3. Anxiety in Motherhood – The Angry Mom
Her child doesn’t obey, and she immediately snaps. There is no grace or understanding when someone questions her.
She craves constant control over her hopes and desires, lashing out when she is fearful that her desires will not come to fruition. The angry mom may fear that her children will not grow up to be successful, and it makes her angry.
Biblical Help for Mom Anxiety
What Are You Afraid of?
In Matt Chandler’s sermon on anxiety, he encourages us to consider the value we give to our wants and needs. When you elevate your desire for physical comfort, the fear of situations that threaten your physical comfort will rule your life. Idolize your children, and you may live in constant anxiety, worrying about their physical safety, happiness, or success.
Consider your fears. What idols in your life do you feel are threatened?
Your Fears Reveal What You Believe About God
Children are a gift from God. Food is needed for our survival. These are good things, but when we value and desire them more than God Himself that reveals a low view of God.
Our fears also show that we question whether God is good. If God is good and loves us, then won’t His plan and gifts be for our good? His plan for us may not be comfortable, but it will make us more Christ-like (Romans 8:28-30). What better good is there than to know and be more like our Savior?
We may believe that God is good, but our anxiety may show that we do not believe He is sovereign. Do you truly trust that His plan will come to fruition?
Confess Your Anxiety
We like to hide our problems, pretending we don’t have fears or that our fears aren’t consuming us. But, when we confess that we are struggling to trust God or that we have made idols, God is still faithful!
Casting aside our pride and the notion that we have life all figured out is essential to viewing our relationship to God rightly. Start today with being honest about your anxiety. Pray that the Holy Spirit will start sanctifying you now, allowing Him to show you His greatness. Confess your struggles with anxiety in motherhood to another mom for accountability and support.
Do Not Be Afraid
Reading the command “do not be afraid” in our Bible may feel patronizing at first, until you read the rest of the verse.
Genesis 15:1 – After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Isaiah 41:10 – fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Jeremiah 1:8 – Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.”
Joel 2:21 – “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things!
The commands to not be afraid are followed with a reminder of who God is, what He has done, and/or what He is doing! “Do not be afraid” does not mean that you will never experience fears or anxieties, but it does mean that you battle those fears by remembering God’s promises.
Take time to consider the attributes of God. Remember and write out the ways He has proven Himself faithful in Scriptures and to you. As a believer, you are part of His “glorious inheritance” (Ephesians 1:18) and can have hope in the future. Pray for the Holy Spirit to remind you of these truths when you are struggling with fear and anxiety. Surround yourself with others who will also preach God’s faithfulness to you.
Grace for Today
The racing thoughts of anxiety usually lead to worst-case scenarios, even when those situations may be days or even months away. I struggled with anxiety during the adoption of our oldest son, imagining our court appearance months before it happened.
Edward Welch’s book, Running Scared, describes the story of God providing mana for the Israelites. Each day, they gathered just enough food for that day. If they took extra, it would spoil. God provided just enough for what they needed in that moment. Welch puts it this way,
“God’s strategy is to give us enough for today and then, when tomorrow comes, to give us enough for that day too. Do you see how this is exactly what we need? Fears and worries live in the future, trying to assure a good outcome in a potentially hard situation. The last thing they want to do is trust anyone, God included. To thwart this tendency toward independence, God only gives us what we need when we need it. The emerging idea is that he wants us to trust him in the future rather than our self-protective plans.”
Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Trust that God will give you the grace you need for today. His mercies will be new tomorrow (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Rest in Your Powerful God
Sometimes my anxious, worst-case scenarios do become reality. Fear exists because death and decay are real. My wants and needs are frequently threatened. But, I don’t have to live in fear of danger. My God “is big, scary, and powerful, but…this God is also lowly, humble, compassionate, loving, forbearing, and personal.” (Always Good, Never Safe by Liz Wann) I can hand all of my mom anxieties over to my sovereign, loving Father.
Verses for the Mom Who Worries
Prayer for a Worried Mother
Danger, decay, and death surround me and they seem to threaten all that I hold dear. I want to protect these little ones that you have entrusted me with, but many times I feel that their safety and provision is completely dependent on me. I confess the idols that I have made – comfort, control, motherhood. Give me a right understanding of You – Your great love and power. When I am tempted to be anxious, remind me of Your past, current, and future faithfulness to me. Help me to give you my rapt attention in all things.
Let everything I think, say, and do be for Your glory.
In Jesus’ name,
Resources for Anxiety in Motherhood