4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:4-7

“Don’t worry about anything.”

Nice work if you can get it.

It used to be that I had nothing to worry about—when I was 5. I would go to school, learn some shapes, letters, and colors, have recess, lunch, and go home. It was all fun and games.

But slowly, as I grew, things became more complicated. Learning became more challenging with grades on the line; recess was replaced by study hall; friends became rivals as peer pressure drove our lives; and lunch cost money (which we didn’t have). And as I learned what my parents gave up for us to live this life, I worried that I would not live up to their expectations and sacrifices.

This is common thinking for lots of kids today. Worry is more prevalent as the world demands excellence from our young ones. Rather than letting kids learn who they are as God’s beloved, society forces them into molds that fit the world instead of the child.

The author of Philippians encourages us to think in a different way about life and struggle: “Rejoice always!” Not worrying doesn’t mean not paying attention to needs and expectations and struggles; it means not allowing those things to consume you or make you into someone you are not. Not worrying means remembering that we can come to God and lay our struggles down at God’s feet because we have that privilege. Our identity is not wrapped up in the achievements or goals we meet, but in the one who walks in the midst of them with us.

“The Lord is near.” That is peace to our souls. So if you are worrying about something, I understand. And I encourage you to take a moment in the midst of that to remember who you are as a child of God. You are perfect just the way God made you; you are made for a purpose; and your heart and mind is guarded, protected from anything that would tell you otherwise.