This is Day Four of our 21 Day Watch. Our faith grows as we become more alert to God’s presence. One of the best laboratories of faith is learning how to trust God with our worries. Not an easy task. Especially when we’re worried about someone we love. My friend Leta has learned some practical and life changing tips in her war against worry. I hope her wise words will help you gain victory over anxious thoughts.
GUEST BLOG: By Leta Flowers
Have you ever been worried? I mean, REALLY worried? Think about a time when worry consumed you. Worry can turn to anxiety, which can even cause physical ailments. You feel all tied up inside. Worry can affect your stomach, your back, your neck, your sleep, your heart, and on and on. I read that the word “worry” comes from an Anglo- Saxon word meaning “to strangle or choke.” Makes sense.
When my daughter was young, she developed asthma–the really scary kind of asthma where you can go quickly into a state of emergency. I experienced a couple of trips to the emergency room, carrying her in with blue lips and unable to catch a breath. So I developed an extreme case of worry that took my imagination to another level.
When she was in gymnastics, I watched her. When she was on a trip with her school or with her softball or gymnastics team, I worried. Whenever I wasn’t with her, I worried. Would other people watch over her like I would? I took the reality of her illness past “what was” to “what if.” What if she died? How could I survive? I became anxious and afraid. It was definitely unhealthy, and I knew it.
During this time, I got involved in a Bible study with a group of young moms. Our leader took us through the book Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. I have to say it was life changing for me, because it gave me tools that helped me give my worry to God. How many of our hours are spent worrying about things over which we have no control? Jesus commanded us to avoid anxiety. In Matthew 6: 25-34, he tells us five times to stop worrying. Pay attention to the last part of this passage:
So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to. So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time. Matthew 6:31-34
I learned that worry is a choice. We can choose to keep our worry and anxiety, or we can choose to give it to God. This is where faith and trust come in. God is much more able to carry our burdens than we are, and He invites us to cast our burden on Him. But how many times do we give our worries to God, and then snatch them back as if we can’t trust Him to carry them? That’s kind of insulting isn’t it? If I ask someone who works with me to do something, and then I snatch it back and do it myself, they would definitely feel that I didn’t trust them! Do we truly trust God with our worries? I learned that it has to be a daily choice, sometimes even hourly–to hand over our worries to God.
I’ll share a couple of the tools I learned that were helpful to me. We use this one with the kids at church when we talk about giving our worries to God: When I am worried, my fists are wrapped tightly around what I am anxious about. I have a tight grip and I am actually hurting myself by holding on so tightly! When I choose to let go, I open my hands in a posture of worship, giving the worry to God. This is something I physically do every time the worry enters my mind, and the release posture feels like submission to God, who is in control of all things.
Another thing I have done in times of worry is to recognize the thoughts that are getting out of control and causing anxiety. I have a mental image of scooping those thoughts out of my head, saying, “These thoughts are NOT from God!”
Philippians 4: 8-9 clearly tells us the kinds of thoughts we should and I don’t see worry in the list: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).
I once read about a woman who wrote her worries on slips of paper, and put them in a worry box. She took a piece of ribbon and tied it around the box, and put it away. Whenever she had a new worry, she took the box and added this worry to the others. A few times a year she would take the box out and go through the slips of paper, marveling at how God had a solution to so many of her worries while she had set them aside! Some of the worries stayed in the box for a long time. Those are the hard ones–those unsolved worries. We have no idea why they remain in the box–but have to trust God with them.
I can’t say that I never have times of worry. Sometimes life is hard and things happen. I can think of a couple of times worry has gotten the best of me. But I can say that most times, I have been able to recognize worry for what it is–and deal with it instead of letting it deal with me. Recently, I found a Bible that I was using a few years ago when I was going through a particularly hard time. I had lost confidence in some areas and it was causing a lot of anxiety for me. I opened the Bible to Psalms and found the notes I had written throughout, accompanied by the exact dates that I had written them. I was amazed to see that God had taken care of all of the things I had been anxious about. Plus, He had restored my faith and confidence as well! While I was writing these thoughts and releasing my worries to God, He was at work. I just didn’t know it! He is at work even now–I just have to trust.
Do not worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for everything he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6