I never thought I was a worrier.
Then I had kids.
Our mom’s weekly prayer group should have been called a “fretting bee” as we agonized through each stage of childhood. We carefully stitched together prayers for averting disasters and diseases, fixing mistakes, squelching rebellions and navigating social situations. We tried to quilt our kids into security blankets sewn with our dreams and goals.
Their first stumbling steps raced into driving, dating and departing for college. They broke free from the cocoons we so beautifully decorated for them, not following our carefully planned paths to success, happiness and holiness—and obliterating our goals to be mothers of the year in the process.
Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest, “We imagine that a little anxiety and worry are an indication of how really wise we are; it is much more an indication of how really wicked we are. Fretting springs from a determination to get our own way . . . All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.”
Wasn’t fretting proof that I was a good parent? I searched for fret in Scripture so I could go toe-to-toe with Mr. Chambers.
There are only five frets in the Bible. Three are in Psalm 37 where David ties fretting to envy and evil and commands the comparison-driven fretter to “Be still before God.”
Since that didn’t help, I tried the dictionary. Fret, from devour or burn, means to become angry or vexed, be displeased, or want what others have.
But telling a habitual worrier like me to “fret not” is like commanding a first-time skydiver to “just relax.” I needed help.
First, I had to admit that my mother-knows-best demands of God were sin, not “savviness.” Much of my anxiety came from comparing my kids to others (or me to other moms) and being frustrated they weren’t following my agenda. In essence, I didn’t believe God was big enough to handle all my longings for my kids on my schedule so it was my turn. I was calculating without God.
I was in good company. The disciples walked with Jesus for three years, saw his miracles, heard his teaching and still fretted. Jesus knew their hearts and was compassionate.
Jesus told them, “Let not your hearts be troubled” and encouraged them to believe in God and in him. He promised he would not leave them as orphans and would provide for them. Then he repeated “Let not your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He then forecast his death and resurrection and instructed them to remember and believe when his prediction came true.
Like the disciples, I need to remember what Jesus said came true—the Resurrection changes everything—and that he sent his Spirit to help my mother heart “fret not.”
I want to change my “Fretting Bee” to a “Letting Be’’—letting God be God, letting him be in control. I want to turn the focus of my prayers from fixing my kids to fixing my eyes on Jesus.
But how do I break a decades-long habit?
I’m trying something new. Before I get out of bed, I open my hands as a visual image of surrender, whispering “fret not/let not.” I remember that He is risen indeed, just as he said, and he has not left me or my children alone. He's the one who hems us in.
Fret not. It only leads to evil.
Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe in Jesus.
But, I have to pry my fingers open again and again. So, I'm stitching a new quilt with this pattern: Repent. Release. Repeat.
Where do you need to fret not and let not? Let me know what has helped you break the "frets."