Hello, friends – I hope you are well, and that your Thanksgiving holiday was filled with joy and light and laughter. Laughter is such medicine to weary hearts and souls, and I think so much of what ails our spirits would be healed if we found time and space to laugh. I believe that.
We haven’t had a lot of laughter in my house lately, though. My little girl is in a tough season, and because she is struggling, we all are. She’s been struggling deeply with anxiety. At first it appeared to be separation anxiety as a result of my going out of town for a conference, but in the month and a half since then it has only gotten worse. We’ve tried so many things to help her: my own tried-and-true strategies against anxiety and fear, scripture, teaching her to pray for help, little notes in her pocket for encouragement during the day, wearing a trinket of mine on a necklace around her neck as a reminder that mama loves her.
Nothing has helped. Absolutely nothing. Through coddling and tough love and everything in between, there has been no change for the better.
Every night, she cries because she is dreading school the next day. Every morning, she cries because she doesn’t want to go. We’ve talked to her teacher, and nothing seems to be going on to make her fearful of school and her guidance counselor says this is pretty normal for her age.
Normal or not, though, this is not God’s will for her. We do not serve a God of fear or chaos, but a God who brings triumph to the weak and who offers a lighter yoke to those who are burdened by the world. So even if this is normal for children her age, I cannot accept that it’s okay.
And there is still the lingering concern in my mind that this is something more than the normal separation anxiety that young children cope with. Heaven knows my sweet girl is predisposed to clinical anxiety, and I can remember times even at her age when I may have already been showing signs of the generalized anxiety that I struggle with today. So yes, this may be normal for kindergarten-aged children, but it might be something more. I just can’t take the chance.
So whether she is struggling with age-appropriate separation anxiety or is showing signs of deeper anxieties or is simply – as her teacher has suggested – tugging at mama’s heartstrings, something is going on. She has not been our normal joyous, independently carefree child. And whether she cannot fight it on her own or is stubbornly refusing to fight it, I cannot deny that something is going on that needs to be fought.
So mama is going to battle for her. Because of a journey God has had me on lately to better understand and appreciate prayer, I think I am being instructed by the Spirit to pray my little girl through this. This morning I spent some time reading through Scripture for God’s words on anxiety and fear, and following the model of other Scripture-based prayers, I have written the following prayer. I am committing to pray these words over my girl every morning and every night and every time I feel led.
If you feel led to do so, please join me. I believe God hears our voices when they rise in unison, and I believe that we can pray her through to the other side. If you have someone in your life who would benefit from this prayer, too, in their own way, feel free to take it and use it. These are God’s words, and they will make a difference.
Gracious and most merciful Father, You are so big and so faithful and so in control of everything that happens in this world. You are not a God of chaos or disorder, but a God of peace and love and light, and it is with that in mind that I bring Jennifer and her anxieties to You. Her anxiety is weighing her down, Lord. Her soul is crushed. In You, though, she can find strength. In You, she can be delivered from her fears and her anxieties. You are with her, never leaving her or abandoning her, and she has no reason to fear. She knows You and loves You; show her now what it means to trust You. You are her refuge and her helper and her fortress. You are her safe place she can run to. She will never be shaken and will have no fear of the future. She is steadfast and secure. You will strengthen her. You will uphold her. You will deliver her. You will act. You will bring consolation and joy. You will give her peace that no one can understand. Save her, Lord, that she can grow into a woman who sings your praises because she knows who You are. Your faithfulness has held me, and it will continue into every generation. Let Jennifer’s life be a shining example of your goodness and faithfulness, that others can come to see You and praise You. I ask this because I believe it is Your will for her in Jesus’ name. Deliver her for Your glory. Amen.
(Verses for reference: Isaiah 41:10, Proverbs 12:25, Psalm 34:4, Psalm 37:5, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:6-7, Philippians 4:13, Matthew 6:34, Psalm 118:6-8, Psalm 112:6-8, Psalm 106:47, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 94:18-19, Psalm 71:3, Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6)
(Note: Those of you who know my family may be confused by my reference to Jennifer. As my girl gets a little older, I’m giving her a pseudonym anytime I reference her in my online space. When I asked her what name she would want if she could have any name in the world, she said Jennifer. So Jennifer she shall be! Here, anyway….)