Lessons from the lawnmower: lesson 2

July 29th, 2014

It looks as if the long hard winter is finally behind us. The leaves are green. The flowers are finally starting to bloom, and the grass is growing. As I spend more time outside, mowing and gardening, I find more time to contemplate. I find that God has a lot to teach me during these busy months, if I only take time to listen...

Lesson #2

If you read the first installment of “Lessons from the Lawnmower” then you may remember the “popped” tire. Both my preteen and teenage son were convinced that the tire had burst after it became wedged against the concrete drainage wall.

So, imagine my surprise early the next morning when I discovered the lawnmower—with all four tires nicely inflated—sitting in the drive ready to be used. I thought my husband would have to spend hours trying to repair it or that he might even have to purchase a new tire. But he informed me that the tire had never “popped” at all. It had simply deflated. He added a little air, and it was “good to go.”

This was good news, of course. We wouldn’t have to wait to finish cutting the front lawn. We wouldn’t have to worry about any major expense. It was a quick fix, not a problem at all.

As I praised the Lord for this blessing, I began to think of my 11-year-old, who had been riding the mower and who had nervously informed me that he had “broken” it.

This is my worrier. When he was little, he would run and hide in my bed when it thundered. He is the one who almost has a panic attack when he takes a test, and who “freaks out” in the backseat when his father exceeds the speed limit. He is the son who frets about being five minutes late for a ball practice or a birthday party and who has experienced a complete “meltdown” when faced with going to a new Sunday school class. He is a sweet, caring, fun-loving little boy, who also happens to get anxious about things rather easily.

Thinking of how stressed my son was over what turned out to be such a simple fix reminded me of 1 Peter 5:7, “Throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” Of course the “him” in this verse is referring to God. “Throw all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you.”

The King James Version uses the word “cast” instead of “throw.” I like “throw” better. In fact, our Sunday school teacher recently told us that the original meaning of the word here would be more like “abandon.” I like to think of it like this, “I need to throw all my worries at the feet of God and then just leave them there. God doesn’t mind, because God can handle it, and God cares about me.”

Of course, it’s not that easy to do. We, as adults, have a hard time just dropping or throwing our worries aside. They tend to be a little clingy. It is no less difficult for a young child. While we seek to follow the advice of 1 Peter 5:7, it is equally important that we try to help children who are struggling with anxiety, especially those who tend to be “natural worriers.” What can we do?

Take them seriously.

Don’t dismiss their concerns as “childish” or “immature.” Ask them what’s bothering them and then listen to them.

Offer reassurance and comfort.

Let them know that regardless of the circumstances, your love and even more importantly, God’s love, will never change. Don’t make promises you can’t keep or offer false hope, but help them to understand that no matter what happens in life, there will always be people who love and support them.

Put things in perspective.

When my son was particularly anxious about pitching for his baseball team, I asked him, “What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen?” He said, “A kid could hit a ball out of the park on my pitch.” I said, “OK, that would be bad, but do you think that will make a big difference in your life next year, or two years, or ten years from now?” He had to say, “No.” So I concluded, “If that’s the worst thing that could happen, is it really worth worrying about?” When he shook his head, “No,” I ended by saying, “So, just do your best and have fun.” Our discussion didn’t necessarily alleviate all his concern over the matter, but it did make him feel a little better.

Help them develop a plan of action.

If possible, guide your child to create a plan of action to tackle the problem at hand. For example, maybe your child is stressing over an upcoming test. Then help him or her create a study plan. Talk about ways to prepare. Maybe your child worries about “bigger” things—such as tornadoes, hurricanes or other natural disasters. Discuss emergency plans, and allow your child to help create an emergency kit. Sometimes just taking action can help a child to feel more in control of his or her circumstances.

Encourage your child to turn to God.

Help your child memorize 1 Peter 5:7. Post it in a prominent place in the child’s room or in your home. When your child becomes particularly anxious, remind him or her to “throw” the problem at the Lord. Pray together about it, and remind your child that no prayer concern is too big or small for God.

Like the lawnmower tire, often the problems in our lives and in our children’s lives seem much worse than they are. It’s hard to see “the big picture” when you are just a piece of the puzzle. Sometimes we envision that life has exploded around us, but actually the situation is just a little flat. Lesson from the Lawnmower #2: Let’s help our children learn the blessings of 1 Peter 5:7. Remind them that God can breathe His Spirit into any situation making the “popped tires” of our lives full and useable again.

Stay tuned for more lessons. As the grass and weeds grow taller every day, I'm sure there will be many more to follow.

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