Facing Worry

They say don’t worry about things you have no control over—whoever they are. Don’t worry. Don’t stress. It’s all good. But is it? I’m not convinced this brushing off business is the best approach. There must be a better way. Better than working hard not to worry. Better than pretending things are okay when they’re not. Better than trying not to feel when it actually hurts, or putting on a brave face when clearly, what you’re facing is tough.

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But we get good at it, this game face. This presenting to the world, posting polished pictures, and smiling while answering, “I’m good thanks” day after day. After all, no one wants to bring others down. And so, along with trying to dismiss the stresses and struggles, we drown them out. But worry has a way of bubbling to the surface.

God knows we struggle with worry. That’s why he tells us: “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (see Matthew 6:25-34)

There are a plethora of things we could try not to worry about. But what if instead of burying our worries and fears, or icing over them, we face them? Acknowledge they actually exist? Look them in the eye and give them a name, instead of ignoring the ever-growing elephant in the room? What if instead of feeding ourselves platitudes to get through, we—in an act of fierce courage and self-care—stop and take an honest look at what’s troubling us and then do something about it?

We often have no control over the source of our worries, but we do have control over our attitude toward them. We can take responsibility for our thought patterns. Though we might not be able to fix the problem, we can fix our thinking. Instead of telling ourselves not to worry, we haul that pile of worry—in its various forms—to God. And in the handing over, the confessing it’s too heavy for us alone, we allow God to help us carry our burden. Then we train our brain to think differently.

cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7

We weren’t meant to excuse our cares and concerns, neither were we meant to drag them around. We can tell God about them, releasing them to him. As we offload them, we feel lighter. It doesn’t mean the problems disappear, it just means we have help and an adjusted perspective to work through them. In this way, we proactively face them, and like most things we pay attention to and give a concerted effort toward, they begin to positively shift.

We could spend a whole lifetime dreading events or outcomes that never occur, stressing over all the bits we can’t control. But these moment-by-moment choices in our thinking  end up comprising our lifetime. We have a choice regarding what we allow our minds to be preoccupied or consumed with, and we have help to master it. Why would we knowingly waste our life on worry?

With God’s help, we can live light, unhindered, free of the weight of worries, and make no allowance for frivolous, fearful thinking. Life-giving thoughts and actions begin to prevail and create spacious places for joy and love to pour into moments and into the lives of others. A life lived undistracted by worrisome thoughts and paralyzing fear. One of freedom and purpose. A life-changing life, lived leaning into God.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. ~ Hebrews 12:1-3

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  1. What worries are you carrying with you today?
  2. Hand them over to God to help you and strengthen you.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Easier Than You Think

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This is my encouragement to you today:

Whatever you are facing, it’s easier than you think.

It’s our thinking that gets us into trouble. We build things up in our minds to be much larger than they are. With our vast imagination, we form small things into big. Tasks loom large—both the time we imagine they will take and the amount of energy we think they will consume. The sheer thought of some things can be immobilizing.

But the battle is won in our thought life.

My mum used to tell me, “Don’t make mountains out of mole hills.” Hearing this used to annoy me, but it was her way of admonishing me not to make a circumstance bigger than it actually was—a gentle reality check. We need this same check throughout our day. Borrowing trouble from tomorrow, inflating something out of proportion, or living in dread, is a sure way to stifle joy, hinder creativity, and heap refuse into your mind.

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~ Matthew 6:34

We expend a lot of energy worrying about a plethora of outcomes that never come to fruition. How often have you dreaded a task, a confrontation, a meeting—delaying or avoiding it—only to later reflect that it wasn’t nearly as difficult or time-consuming as you had built it up to be? Once you jumped in, it flowed much smoother than you imagined, and you wonder why you expended all that energy stressing over it.

It’s human nature to avoid pain. We all prefer comfort, so if we view a task as hard or uncomfortable, we falter. If we look at a situation and deem it impossible, we give up before even starting. But what if we could rejig our mindset? What if instead of engaging in defeatist thoughts, procrastinating, or projecting difficulty, we purposed to shift our thinking? And what if we had help to do so?

We can start by acknowledging our cares and fears instead of ignoring them. Once we do that, we can:

cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7

Once we recognize then unload our cares, celebrating that we don’t have to carry one ounce of the weight of them, we can shift our thinking to a place of thankfulness. We can be grateful that we have the opportunity to face fears, knowing that in doing so, the circumstance won’t remain the same, and neither will we. We can then ask for strength and courage to move forward, one small step at a time, to exact change or tackle a task.

Even a simple attitude adjustment can make a vast difference. As we begin to positively alter our perspective towards hard or uncomfortable things—and ask God for help to release fear—we can secure a mindset of faith, and our thoughts toward what lies ahead become lighter and more manageable. We no longer feel frozen but free.

God not only offers help in the form of carrying cares and helping us conquer our challenges and fears, he offers peace and protection.

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Phil 4:6-7

God invites us to hand over our anxieties to him. We can ask for his help in any circumstance. In place of fear, he offers inexplicable peace that guards our hearts and minds against fearful meanderings.

The next time you are facing a mountain, do a double take. It just might be a molehill in disguise.

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  1. List three things that have been consuming your thought life.
  2. Bring each to God and release them, asking for help to face them.
  3. Move forward and prayerfully tackle them with God’s help.