Surrendering Your Tendency to Rescue
By Cindi McMenamin
Do you know what it’s like to see your child hurt and not be able to help?
I can’t think of a more debilitating feeling for a mom.
I’ve experienced that feeling of helplessness at pivotal points throughout my daughter’s life – when she was hospitalized as a toddler for what we believed might be leukemia, when she felt betrayed by a friend in high school, and when she was out of the country during college and I couldn’t get to her during her homesickness.
Yet I’ve learned through the years that God knew exactly what He was doing when He allowed my child to go through situations in which Mom couldn’t help. He was building her character and her dependence on Him. And he was making me more reliant on Him, as well.
We are hardwired as moms to rush in and rescue our children, especially in situations where we CAN. Yet I would encourage you to resist the urge to rush in and rescue so that God canteach your children something about Himself that we can’t do on our own just by telling them about God. He wants our kids to experience Him for themselves.
Don’t Rush In
Perhaps you’ve already had situations where you wanted to rush in and rescue when your child, teenager or even college-aged child was experiencing difficulty. But I can give you three good reasons to resist the urge to rush in…
- God already has a better plan. By rushing in to rescue your child, you are shortchanging them from a much better plan that God might’ve worked if you had stepped back and trusted Him.
- God wants to help our children resolve the problem themselves. God knows exactly how to take an area of a child’s life that has a mom extremely worried and use it to develop the character of that child and, in some cases, even give that child a ministry to others.
- God wants our children to ask Him for help. When we don’t rush in to rescue, that leaves our children with no other alternative than to go to God with their requests and wait on Him for their rescue. It’s a powerful lesson for them, early on, to see how God comes to their aid. It develops their faith. And it helps them become people of prayer.
Knowing When to Back Off
Sometimes we call it interceding, but our attempts to rescue can actually be interfering with God’s plan to get through to our child in a specific way. To back off and let God work, we must let our children grow up, let them remember what they’ve been taught (so they can take ownership of their faith), and let them fail and learn from it.
If we are constantly present, telling our children what to do, when will they learn to practice common sense, exercise good judgment, and display discernment? We love our children and want to rescue them. But sometimes, besides prayer, the best thing we can do for them is to let them learn life’s lessons through the consequences of their decisions so they will look to God for their help. You and I need to pray for discernment to know when to back off so God can step in and rescue, and when to make ourselves available in case God wants to show our children, through us, that there is nothing He won’t do for them.
A Plan to Replace Worry
For all the times that you won’t be able to rescue your child, you will need a plan to replace worry and anxiety with God’s peace. Here are some practical ways to do that:
- Replace Your Fear with God’s Truth
We tend to fear that our child is on his or her own, but the truth is that God has said “Never will I leave you; nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). And that goes for you, as well as your child.
We fear that the worst possible scenario might happen to our child, but God says “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). And that goes for your child, as well as for you.
Breaking the cycle of fearful thinking and replacing it with God’s truth is possible when we spend time in His Word, reminding ourselves of His truth, and through the daily discipline of prayer.
- Rely on God’s Promises
Once we know the truth of God’s Word, we can pull out His promises and rely on them during times of uncertainty, or times when we feel we should be doing something, but can’t. A promise that helps many moms is Romans 8:28, in which God promises to work all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His promise. Mostly He causes those things to work for good by making us – and our children – more like His Son, Jesus, through our struggles (Romans 8:29).
- Rally with Other Moms in Prayer
We all need moms around us to strengthen us. Join a moms group at a local church, a Moms in Prayer group at your child’s school, or find another mom and commit to praying together weekly for your children.
God’s Got This
God’s got your child’s situation under control, whether you believe it or not, whether you acknowledge it or not, whether you act – or don’t act. So doesn’t it make sense to trust the One who can work out the details of your child’s life much better than you can?
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the author of 15 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and her newest book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, upon which this article is based. For more on her ministry, books, or free resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.