An airplane ride to work, a race, a sleepy school in Sandy Hook, date night at the movies. Is no where safe? But hear this – I REFUSE TO LIVE MY LIFE IN FEAR. When you give into the fear, the worry, the anxiety – then it wins. And we were meant for so much more. We were meant to:
BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6.
I used to worry all the time. If my husband was 5 minutes late, I had already planned his funeral, panicked because we do not have enough life insurance and figured out how we would go on after his death. If I encountered a difficult situation, I would continuously re-play the events in my head. Many times I made myself physically sick by worrying, afraid of the “what ifs”.
Worrying is nothing less than meditating on the wrong things; it will steal your peace and keep you down!
About two years ago my pursuit of PEACE began to bring me victory in this area. I would love to tell you that I got prayers and then I was instantly healed of worry. But that is not how it happened. It was not overnight, and it certainly was not easy, but it is well worth the effort! So how did I start to pull that darn weed out? Well, number one, I did not do it, God did. But the biggest and most important lesson I learned was this:
Just because a thought enters my mind, does NOT mean that I have to let it stay there, and I certainly do NOT need to let it take root and spread!
Not all thoughts are helpful. Previously I would let any thought that entered my mind stay there and take up residence. For example, I used to think about my husband’s faults (ie., meditate on them), which as you can imagine was not helpful to my marriage. Instead I have learned to redirect it by saying, “yes he has fault X, but he has so many more positive qualities. Thank you Jesus for the wonderful father he is to my children. Thank you for his kind-heart. Thank you for the way he takes care of me.” When I meditate on those things (all truthful things), my marriage is actually built up! It does not mean that I ignore our problems, or that there is no room to “call him on”, but meditating on his faults does not accomplish either of those goals either – so I am learning to stop it!
I have found that sometimes I just cannot stop myself from thinking about something (see Proverbs 26:11). It is so hard, it requires discipline, and to be quite honest, sometimes I just do not WANT to stop thinking about something. When that happens, we need to do what Jesus did, and remind the evil one of the word of God (see Luke 4:1-12).
Previously the act of memorizing scripture was not a regular part of my prayer life. Even now it takes me a month to memorize one scripture. But I have found that when I do not have the will-power to redirect my thoughts, recalling a scripture (and stating it over and over) helps to get that thought out of my head like nothing else! And to be quite honest, it is WAY easier to stop thinking about something by recalling scripture versus reliance on my own will-power. That it because then I am doing it “not by (my) might, nor by (my) power, but by HIS Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).
I am not going to lie – I still worry from time to time, but I do know that the time that I spend down Worry Lane has shortened significantly. And let me tell you, that is FREEDOM.
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“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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. 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: 4-9.
Book recommendations to help combat worry:
Battlefield of the Mind: by Joyce Meyer (one of the best, if not the best book I have ever read – after the Bible of course!)
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie (author of How to Win Friends and Influence People)