Thursday, April 14, 2016

Don't Worry - Rejoice!

Parents in Pain
by John White
1979 / 245 pages

Worry: Pursuing a Better Path to Peace
by David Powlison
2004 / 40 pages

While parents are not the only ones to worry, I suspect most every parent struggles with it, which is why David Powlison's Worry pairs up rather naturally with John White's Parents in Pain. We have reviewed both these authors on the blog before, but not their books on these topics.

John White is better known as the author of the Archives of Anthropos, a children's fantasy series. In that series he actually alluded to some of the concerns of his "real job" when his protagonists meet a girl with an unnamed trauma in her past. As a Christian psychiatrist, White is upfront about the fact that parents will experience pain, and that he went through that pain in the raising of his own children. Our children will not turn out exactly like us, and we do not have to take personal responsibility for their mistakes and sins that bring us pain.

One chapter in particular dealt with the issue of worry as a parent when White urges us to relinquish our certain "rights" and expectations parents have created for themselves. He urges us to give up:
  • our "right" to tranquillity, 
  • our "right" to repayment for all our work in bringing our children up, 
  • any expectations of respectability in the eyes of other parents, 
  • and any expectation that we can shelter our children from the consequences of their own action. 

In other words, let us stop making idols of our own powers to change others.

Some references to free will (but not in the Arminian sense), and to abortion as a possibly acceptable solution to teenage pregnancy (though strongly discouraged), should not keep discerning parents from benefiting from much good counsel and encouragement when our children put us through pain.

David Powlison's booklet is not specifically about parenting, but he uses a careful meditation on Christ's well-known words on worry in Matthew 6 to bring us (again?) to the recognition that "your Father is God." He is in control!

One other piece of counsel that both share is to act rather than worry! White mentions that while happy is an adjective, rejoice is a verb. Paul commands us to rejoice even when we have no earthly reason to be happy. Similarly, Powlison reminds us to exercise our Spirit-led will by deliberately focusing on God's promises (wonderful reasons for rejoicing!), and by giving to others in response when we are tempted to worry.

If you believe that either or both of these books will help you stop worrying and start rejoicing and acting in love rather than fear, you can order David Powlison's book here and John White's book here.

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