It was late. And you know how it goes when it’s late — things can seem gloomier and doomier by the minute.
I lay tossing, fretting, and stressing about the next day when two of my kids would be heading to an indoor water park with a group from church. I was happy they got the opportunity to go, but in the moment all I could do was obsess about the safety of one of them.
You see, several years ago, this same child had a near-drowning experience (or so it looked) at a resort swimming pool. Back then, my once six year-old had no body fat, lots of bones, and zero floating ability. He also had the uncanny ability to sink like a dropped anchor.
I was out of the water standing poolside while simultaneously caring for my baby and watching my boy who was clinging to the side of the pool a foot away from me. I felt like a mama eagle attentively keeping vigil by my sinks-like-a-millstone kiddo. I took my eyes off the wall clinger for a few seconds to survey the fun being had at the other end of the pool by my husband and other kids.
When I looked back, he was gone.
My eyes darted everywhere, wondering how he’d gotten away so quickly. Especially since he couldn’t swim and he certainly couldn’t reach the bottom while keeping his head above water. As I again searched the place he’d been just seconds before, I found his eyes large as saucers a couple feet under the water. He had let go of the wall in an attempt to practice treading water and sunk to the bottom instead.
He was standing firmly on his feet waving his arms wildly underwater as if he could reach me by waving hard enough. I screamed, like most mothers would, inadvertedly calling the attention of everyone in the place as I stooped down on the pool’s edge to reach under and grab my son’s outstretched wrists, yanking him up to safety.
It was terrifying. Had I not been standing watch right there, looked back down when I did, or had been busy with the baby, something very bad could have happened. It still gives me shivers.
Since then he’s experienced a few rounds of swim lessons and six years of growth. He can hold his own now. But still. A mama worries. Obsesses is more accurate. They went on the trip and had an uneventfully good time. An amazing time even.
My obsessing over his safety didn’t help the situation at all. In fact, it made me even more anxious. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to sleep.
Until I remembered to pray, that is. I felt this wave of peace wash over me almost instantly when I asked the Lord to take my fear and anxiety away. But then I kept grabbing at the worry, inviting it back. Anxiety. Relief. Anxiety.
I knew I wasn’t going to keep my son home because of my fear. I was in my right mind enough to know that (though I secretly sort of wanted to). Plus, he’s in middle school for goodness sake.
Then I decided to stop the cycle by giving it to Jesus and literally quit thinking about it. Sounds super simple, but of course we all know how entirely not simple this process is.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working to prepare a couple of messages to speak to a group of teen girls at a retreat this weekend. The topic of teenage obsessions weaves it’s way into one of the talks as we remember our souls (our minds and thoughts) are to be lifted to the Lord alone, not hunkered down amid our obsessions. (Psalm 25:1) I’m really excited about that part, but it’s gotten me thinking about my own obsessions as an adult, as a mom. What is it that keeps me from lifting my mind and thoughts to God?
What keeps entering my thoughts over and over again and in a way that’s not normal? Ouch. Too many things, that’s what.
When we dwell on those fears, conversations, relationships, hurts, and ourselves in a way that’s not normal, it can easily turn into an obsession.
I would know.
The study of Psalm 25:1 inevitably leads me straight to Colossians 3:2 which says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” The Lord and His ways are what’s above. Our obsessions are what’s below.
Using Colossians 3:2 as our guide, the way we lift our souls to God is to set our minds on Him and the things of Him.
Pray and release for real.
Read God’s Truth.
Be careful about what you’re feeding your mind. All of these have a powerful effect on our thoughts about ourselves and the world around us.
My soul is seriously needing some fresh air. I’ve been bottom dwelling on the same thoughts for too long. So today I’m releasing the obsessions. I might have to do it again this afternoon, or tomorrow (definitely tomorrow), or in five minutes. But that’s the way we lift our souls.
One act of setting our minds on Him and His truth at a time.