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Frozen Yogurt, Fatherhood, and Fear - Third Sunday of Matthew

Sometimes I’m afraid my daughter doesn’t trust me.

Last week, early one morning, we promised my little one that we would take her to get frozen yogurt. Since we didn’t immediately proceed to the nearest FroYo place  we then had to listen to her ask for it a thousand times.

Whenever my wife and I would talk about the day’s plans, my daughter would add, “Yeah, and on the way there, maybe we can get yogurt?”

After request #378, I tried to muster as much parental kindness as I could: “I understand you’re very excited about the yogurt. We will make sure you get it. We promised you.”

Her response was tough to hear: “But I’m afraid you’ll forget.”

I’ve always tried really hard to keep my word, especially since becoming a parent. I want my kids to know that they can count on me. So when she said this, I felt a bit disappointed. I couldn’t help but wonder, what kind of father does she think that I am? Doesn’t she know who I am?

And that’s when I realized who I am.

I’m her.

I, too, am deeply afraid; afraid that God won’t take care of me.

My daughter’s anxiety over dessert is my anxiety over the size of my bank account. Her fear that I won’t remember to stop by the FroYo shop is my fear that God won’t remember me in my hour of need.

Though there’s one big difference: unlike my daughter, I’ve stopped incessantly asking for help. While my daughter’s fear finds rest in her trust of me, my fear morphs into anxiety and a broken self-reliance.  Unlike her, I stop asking and start relying on myself.

Instead of waking up and praying for God’s blessings (or, even better, giving thanks for my wife, my children, and my health) I wake up worrying about what’s for breakfast or stressing that I haven’t been productive enough yet this morning (it’s already 7:00?!).

Or I worry about all the devastation in the news: terrorism, natural disasters, moral decay, political scandal, and the litany of other bad news reported ad nauseam.

How am I not supposed to worry?

But God’s response to my anxiety is my response to my daughter’s anxiety:

Don’t worry. Because I’m your Father. And I love you.”

God invites me simply to chill out and trust Him. While I’m too busy worrying about everything going wrong, God’s saying, “I got this.”

From my perspective, I know my daughter doesn’t need to worry about getting her frozen treat because I’m the kind of father who keeps promises.

And if that’s the kind of father I am, then how much more so is our Heavenly Father?

But why is it so hard to trust Him?

My daughter’s anxiety leads her to badger me with requests, to turn to me. Unfortunately, my anxiety also drives me to turn to myself.

To forget God. 

I would do well to be more like my daughter, to trust in our Heavenly Father.

This Sunday, Christ will tell us that the “eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness” (Matt. 6:22-23).

It’s no wonder, then, that I eat, drink and breathe anxiety. My eye is unhealthy, and takes in every disaster covered in the news, which convinces me that doomsday (or at least the zombie apocalypse) is coming. It takes in all the unrealistic media, which convinces me that what I have and who I am is never enough, and certainly never good enough.

I’m not smart enough, or fit enough, or rich enough, or loved enough…

Our world is fueled by anxiety because we inhabit a culture of scarcity.

“Scarcity is the ‘never enough’ problem…Scarcity thrives in a culture where everyone is hyperaware of lack. Everything from safety and love to money and resources feels restricted or lacking.”[1] And it is this sense that things are lacking that makes us panic and do all we can to secure our lives in this world.

We work harder. We hoard. We blame our spouse. All this fear turns us inward and distracts us from those we love and the Lord.

And this Sunday, Christ, the trustworthy Son of the trustworthy Father, tells us to chill out.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matt. 6:25, 32).

Christ invites us to trust that God knows precisely what we need. That we need not worry about it…

Easy for you to say, Jesus! I’ve got bills to pay!

*Deep breath*

There we go again: anxiety, and trust in my own actions.

It’s everywhere, and it’s precisely why Christ encourages us to “strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

Christ invites me away from the bad news of the media and instead to focus on the good news of the Gospel, the coming of God’s Kingdom. He invites me to know that all is forgiven, that one day in God’s Kingdom all will be made right and “Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more” (Rev. 21:4).

He invites us to trust our Father in Heaven, and to know that He doesn’t forget anything, not even frozen yogurt.

What do you think?  Why is it so hard to trust in the Lord rather than ourselves? What are you afraid of? What kinds of things cause you to struggle to trust the Lord? Comment below and join the conversation!

 

 

[1] Brene Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (New York: Avery, 2012), p. 26. 

Photo Credits:

Frozen Yogurt: Magnus D via Compfight cc

Anxious Girl: Wikimedia Commons

Clouds: mattyp_ via Compfight cc

Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, mover, shaker, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, and CrossFitter. Christian has his MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and is working toward a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.

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For more:

For more on dealing with intrusive and anxious thoughts, check out this episode of Be the Bee:

For more on turning toward the Light of Christ, check out this episode of Be the Bee:

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