Fear of the future. Also known as “your peace stealer”. If you’re a planner like me, you have probably felt those moments of anxiety when things don’t go your way, or worse yet, you’re not sure how your future is going to go altogether.
So many times have I wished that I owned a crystal ball so I could see five years down the road. I have struggled with “fear of the future”, and also an occasional, innocent curiosity of what is ahead in my life, many times. However when I allow this to creep into my thoughts, it begins to manifest itself as massive anxiety. (Which in turn triggers my menopausal hot flashes, ugly sweating, and mad dashes to the kitchen freezer for relief. It’s not pretty, people.)
However, I have learned that this isn’t God’s plan for us. He has a better one! When I finally understood this concept, it became my chance to actively fight anxiety and reclaim peace in my days.
I’ll explain. Psalm 119:105 (NIV) says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” This life that we are walking out is our “path”. God doesn’t allow us to see the entire road of our future because it would be too much for us to handle. He graciously covers that future in His version of “fog” so we don’t freak out!
Imagine yourself walking in the dead of night with no stars or moon to light your way. The only source of light you have is a small handheld lamp. That lamp is only going to cast enough light to illuminate your next step. It doesn’t reach all the way down the path to your destination, but it does give enough light for your foot to find a firm and steady foundation as you slowly walk forward.
God’s word, the Bible, is that light for your path! He is the light that will give you the steady foothold you need for TODAY. We don’t need to know what tomorrow will bring, or the next day, or the next. God loves us so much that He purposely shelters us from that knowledge of the future so we can be engaged and effective in our current moment. If we are so focused on our future, we may miss out what He has for us today.
Yes, planning is good. I don’t think we are supposed to living continuously flying by the seat of our pants. However, make sure that you are committing those plans to the Lord and holding them loosely in your hands. They are ultimately His plans, and He directs our steps. Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:”
It has taken time, and often a few self reminders, but I’ve learned to not worry about my future and instead to stay present in my current moment. Those times when I allow myself to give into that fear, it’s as though I’m telling God that I don’t trust His plans for me.
To get into this trusting and peaceful mindset each morning, I start by praying scripture. Praying scripture is like pulling out your best weapon in your arsenal and pointing it at the enemy with a steely gaze and rock solid confidence.
This is what sounds like when I pray using my “weapons”:
“Good morning, Holy Spirit. I give you my day today. Jesus, You say that Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path, so today I ask that You pour your wisdom into my heart this morning as I read your word. Show me what I need to know for this moment. Lord, I know that You determine my steps, and I don’t need to fear my future. I commit my way to You today, Lord, and I trust You in all things!”
Speak God’s promises back to Him in your prayers, confidently acknowledging that you trust Him to come through!
Taking one day at a time, not focusing on the “what ifs” of my future, and resting in God’s “peace that surpasses all understanding” has helped me be okay with the fog of the unknown. Stay present in THIS moment, and don’t let fear steal your peace!
Ahhh!! Where did the summer go? I ask myself this question every year when Labor Day weekend is staring at me in the rearview mirror, mocking my attempts at holding on to summer a little longer. After the flurry of mindless trips to Target wandering the school supply aisles, and the frantic last minute Zappos orders are placed for school shoes, I think about the next big hurdle…
Getting my kids up EARLY. Oh the horror!
The lazy mornings of summer and sleeping in are coming to a screeching halt. And this momma has to have a plan to combat the often challenging transition from summer vacation to school year routine. I also made a decision a couple of years ago that I wanted our mornings to be structured, and as free of stress as possible while trying to get out the door.
This wasn’t something I just “decided”, however. Because goodness knows, I didn’t get the “Mom Manual” when I left the hospital with my firstborn. So I am figuring this out by making lots of mistakes. I mean GOBS of mistakes. After a couple of early years of crazy, sweaty mornings harping on the girls to move faster, eat their breakfast, and find their backpack, I knew there had to be a better way. I re-evaluated my morning routine and this is what’s currently working for me.
1. Alarm Clocks
Both of my girls have been using alarm clocks since kindergarten. Honestly, this initially came from my desire to avoid the association of me with that unpleasant moment of being awakened from a deep sleep. I also want them to learn at an early age how to be responsible with getting their day started on their own.
2. Know Your Child’s Morning Personality
I have two daughters that couldn’t be more different, and I love that. However, that also means I have to take into consideration their personalities when it comes to getting up in the morning. One flies out of bed when her alarm goes off, ready to start her day, and the other “needs her coffee” before she can function. (Don’t panic, I don’t give my girls coffee. But it’s a great analogy!) She needs to lay on the couch for ten minutes to wake up and process her morning before she hits the ground running. Because I know this about her, I set her alarm 10 minutes earlier so she can have her couch cuddle time.
3. Set the Mood
Before they come downstairs, I always have the lights in the kitchen and living room dim (I’m obsessed with dimmer switches), a candle lit, and praise and worship music playing softly in the background. I want the first thing that my daughters are exposed to in the morning to be praises to our Lord. I feel that this prepares their hearts for the day and gently awakens both their minds and their spirits.
After they come downstairs are curled up on the couch for a few minutes listening to the music, I begin slowly turning the room’s lights up from their relaxed, dim stater. I’ve found that this gradual brightening of the room helps them gently wake up and fosters a better mood for both of them.
4. The Checklist
This was probably the best addition to my morning routine. Before the “checklist” I found myself constantly nagging at them to get their teeth brushed, or put their dishes in the dishwasher, blah blah blah! I felt like a drill Sergeant barking orders and calling out commands. “Come on girls! You have five minutes! Let’s go, let’s go!” The mood was far from relaxed and I hated that they were starting their day with me yapping and yelling at them.
My solution? The checklist. I created a chart of all the things they needed to do before we walked out the door. A few things on the list include, making their beds, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, putting their dishes in the dishwasher, signing reading logs, and filling their water bottles, for a start. This list gets taped on the kitchen wall every Monday morning.
They know that they have until 7:30 am to complete and check off all of the things on the list. If they compete it on time they can earn a quarter for their piggy banks.
Mood before the checklist system was put in place…..CHAOS.
Mood after the checklist system….HEAVEN.
This was a game changer for me. Instantly, I was no longer the nagging, mean mommy. I was calm, peaceful mommy, holding two shiny quarters in my hand while two little munchkins scurried around getting stuff done! Game changer.
I continued the reward system for a little while in order to reinforce the routine, but now they just know that this is what is expected.
5. Set a Schedule
I have found that if I stick to a specific schedule each morning, almost down to the minute, then things run much more smoothly. Here’s how I break it down:
6:25: Alarms go off
6:30-6:45: Lay on the couch and gradually wake up
7:10-7:30: Complete the checklist
7:30 Out the door!
This may seem rigid to some, and obviously there are days when it needs to be adjusted, but having these time markers creates structure and structure creates peace. I’ve also found it’s very helpful when I have grandparents watching the girls overnight. It lays out the morning process for them and the girls are so familiar with it that they pretty much run the morning themselves!
6. Car Prayers
These are the last 10 minutes that I will have with my girls before they are in someone else’s hands at school for the next eight hours. So I have made it a priority to pray in the car every morning. We also recite scripture like:
Phillippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,”
Psalm 118: 24, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Getting scripture in their hearts and minds is so important, and giving them the tools to fight what may come their way each day is so important. I have found that showing my girls how to create structure in their day, and incorporating God into those first waking hours through music, scripture, and prayer is the best thing I, as a mom, can do for my kids.