Here’s a little background information…my parents lived in Clemson, just 5 minutes from campus, and, at that time, my father was a university employee. As excited as he was to have Hope at Clemson, Daddy was having a hard time letting her go without knowing all the details of her daily schedule and how she could possibly maneuver campus safely, without getting lost, run over or kidnapped. Don’t get me wrong, letting go was very difficult for me too, but I had to trust…trust that the ClemsonLIFE staff had all supports in place to keep the students safe and still enable them to learn how to be independent. I had to set some boundaries for mom and dad (mainly dad), otherwise he would have called her every day or dropped by unannounced just to grab a hug (and snoop). I instructed him that he couldn’t call her for 6 weeks—the time that all parents had to wait to call their child. Hope could call them if she wanted to talk. This rule made the transition time easier for students and staff. No communication was killing daddy—so much so, that he went to extremes to catch a glimpse of his granddaughter. He knew her daily schedule because I eventually gave him that information. He finally confessed to me, that every day, he would ride over to Lightsey Bridge II, Hope’s apartment complex, and sit in the parking lot to see if he saw her when she returned from class. Sometimes on his way home from work, he would ride by her apartment very slowly—just checking things out and making sure everything looked safe. On one of his outings, he passed a Clemson University policeman patrolling the area. I think that’s when he decided it might be time to stop the “stalking.” Do you think dad looked a little suspicious driving slowly around a college apartment complex staring at all the college students? My 77 year old father was a “stalker”—kind of creepy to those who may not have known the circumstances. Isn’t it funny, as we get older, we become the parents to our parents? I had to remind dad how inappropriate it must look to the neighbors. (Remember when our parents used to give us that lecture?)
The “stalking” stopped after the first month, but dad’s worrying never did. It terrifies me to think how many times he may have “stalked” my sisters and me on dates or in college. I can’t even go there!
Worry is a trait that dad passed down to me. We often talked about that and laughed. I would call him out and tell him that he was “sinning” because the Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7 to not be anxious about anything, but to pray about all things and you will experience the peace that only God can give. Dad knew that, but he sometimes struggled with thinking that God might need his help.
Of course, I was just as guilty. Why do we feel like we need to try to control every aspect of our lives and our families? For Dad, in his mind, he was minimizing risks, protecting his family and eliminating any surprises. He loved his granddaughter so much and wanted to spare her from any harm or danger. In doing so, he, like many of us, robbed himself of peace—a peace that can only be found when we trust and have patience. Believe me, I’m talking to myself.
Have you ever had that “stalker” mentality—that urge to control outcomes, that inability to let go of a situation or a person because of a paralyzing fear (fear of failure, fear of danger, fear of loss)?
I know I have—numerous times—especially when the kids were teenagers. I feared them making poor decisions—the kind that result in life-changing consequences. I did not want them to fail and was very strict and controlling. Many times, I parented out of fear. The result—a disaster. Not only did I strain my relationships with my kids, I created a life of turmoil for myself—never at peace–always engaging in the “what-if” game and playing out the scenarios in my mind. My thought life was dangerous. Our thoughts are either life-giving (God thoughts) or life-taking (worldly/of the flesh). Life-taking thoughts cause chaos , confusion, anxiety and discouragement. Life-giving thoughts bring peace, hope and clarity.
When your “stalking” mentality takes over, arrest those thoughts—capture them and keep them from polluting your mind. We must fine-tune our relationship with God so that we have His power to transform our minds. We also must plant Scripture in our hearts to remind us of God’s truth. Here are a few of my favorite verses on mind/thought control that are part of my arsenal to combat life-taking thoughts.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
Trust God, acknowledge Him, and let Him renew your mind so that you may experience PEACE.