I was having a full-blown panic attack. My stomach was churning and my heart was pounding in rhythm with the thoughts racing wildly through my mind. Whoever said life was easier when your children got older was crazy. My oldest son, who had returned the previous year from Iraq, was having difficulties. He had been diagnosed with PTSD. He was calling me, while having anxiety attacks, which in turn caused me to have anxiety attacks. It was a vicious cycle. I would calm him down and then, after hanging up the phone, I would collapse in a chair crying. I loved my son but I was not a trained counselor and my mom-talks didn’t seem to help for very long.
On this particular day, my son had called and informed me he had gotten himself into “a little trouble”. This was, in fact, not the first time he had found himself in “a little trouble”. His nickname should have been “Little Trouble”. His “little trouble” usually consisted of alcohol abuse. Many soldiers, diagnosed with PTSD, self-medicate instead of taking prescriptions issued by the Army doctors. He wasn’t asking me to bail him out but he wanted me to know what was going on. ‘Why?’ I thought to myself. ‘So I can lie in bed, awake at night, wondering what “Little Trouble” was going to get into next.’
I launched into my pre-recorded Mom sermon and told him he had resources available to help him. His family loved him and we were concerned for him. We would help him in any way we could but he needed to ask for help. He could come home and we would go through treatment with him. I told him we were praying for him, God loved him and wanted him to have a better life. He replied with his pre-recorded litany of “I knows” and we hung up after exchanging “I love you”.
I was driving in my car, on the way to the grocery store, running all of the situations and circumstances of the past year through my mind. Every time my phone rang, and I saw it was my son on the caller ID, my stomach would knot up knowing there was probably another disaster on the other end. The more I ruminated on the offenses, the more anxious I became. I remember sitting at a red light screaming, “God, I can’t take it anymore!” The woman next to me inched her vehicle forward apprehensively.
I looked up and glanced at the car in front of me. A green bumper sticker, with a goofy looking frog, glared back at me. I saw the bold black letters, “FROG”. ‘Seriously?’ I thought. ‘Isn’t that obvious?’ Then I saw smaller letters in between the larger ones. “Fully Rely on God”. FROG. Tears welled up in my eyes and I started laughing at the same time. God was giving me a message on a bumper sticker. “Fully Rely on God”. I was reminded of the verse 1 Peter 5:7 which tells us to cast all our cares on Christ because He cares for us. Casting my care on Christ included the “exasperating adult child in crisis” care. God didn’t want me to bear the burden alone. He wanted me to fully rely on Him because He loves me.
Fully relying on God is something I work at every day since I have a tendency to be a controller and a worrier. I have a habit of envisioning the worst possible outcome in situations. I will turn the problem over and over in my head and imagine every conceivable scenario instead of immediately giving it over to God. Matthew 6:26-27 have become foundational verses for me. “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”
God cares deeply about every situation I face in my life. I am more valuable to him than any problem or circumstance I encounter. My worrying, or attempts to fix the problem myself, will not bring me any closer to a solution especially not God’s solution. By interjecting my own ideas and thoughts I am hindering God’s will. I have discovered three important steps to help me fully rely on God and if I faithfully follow these I enjoy peace knowing he is in control and the situation will be resolved his way and in his time.
First, I bring the problem or situation before God. Psalm 55:22 instructs us to, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” God has promised if we cast our cares on him he will sustain us. He will give us the ability to tolerate or endure our circumstance. We will not be shaken. We are denying ourselves the comfort God has promised if we fail to rely on him. I end up feeling confused and frustrated when I try to resolve a situation on my own. I reach a breaking point where I scream in my car, “God, I can’t take it anymore!” If I had given my circumstance to God immediately I would be relaxing in his peace instead of drowning in exasperation.
Secondly, I pray for God’s will in the situation. If you are like me, you think of every possible way out of a problem and then pray for God to respond to your prayer with your solution in your time. We want quick and easy answers but sometimes God makes us wait for his will to be done. He wants us to learn important lessons we wouldn’t learn if the problem were resolved in our timeframe. My son would not have realized how his behavior was affecting his life if he had been bailed out of the problem. He had to go through a trial and jail time before he understood he needed to change his conduct and ask God for help.
Finally, I leave the problem in God’s hands. Proverbs 3:5-6 is an excellent reminder to fully rely on God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Submitting our will and our ways to God means leaving every problem and circumstance in his hands trusting the end result will be more wonderful than any plan we could devise. We are to trust in him with ALL our heart which means we don’t hold on to the problem with the intent of continuing to worry about it. We leave our circumstances with God and thank him for what he is going to do in our lives.
Fully relying on God requires more effort than reading a simple bumper sticker. It is a way of life we need to cultivate, each day, to relax in the peace and comfort God has promised if we trust him with every area of our lives.