Thursday Tips: Snap Out of It

thursday

We talked about worry yesterday, a topic I’ve touched on several times in the past years. So for today’s tip, I wanted to list some practical tools that I’ve picked up along the way to help combat worry.

Snap It.

This is not some form of weird penance. I take a rubber band and write a verse on it, usually Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Obviously you need a wide rubber band and some tiny handwriting. Stretch that sucker out and write the verse, or part of the verse. This allows me to meditate on the words, glance at the verse every time my eyes go to my watch, and occasionally pop myself with the band if I’m on a worry cycle headed to nowhere but anxiety. That little pop can sometimes pull me out and force me to acknowledge my anxieties rather than letting them take over my thoughts.

Face the alternative.

Take out your journal and open it to a new page. Write out Philippians 4:5-7. “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.”

Now translate this verse into your own version of worries. For example…

“Let your fear be evident to all for the Lord is distant.  Be anxious about everything, but in everything, by making lists and keeping yourself awake at night, with complaining, present your worries to yourself.  And the weight of the world and all the problems that could happen, and all the things that did happen, and everything that might happen, will keep your hearts and minds captives to worry.” (Ginger 4:5-7)

Refreshing way to live, isn’t it?  What would your verse say about the way you live your life? Is it plagued by worry, or have you come to the point where you realize your best chance is to give up and trust?

Read the book of Joshua.

Whenever I’m coming down with a case of mental “shaking knees” I spend some time reading about Israel’s worried leader. Over and over God tells Joshua to “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS!”

After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses’ assistant:

“In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” (Joshua 1:1,5-9, MSG)

Fight like you mean it.

Resist the urge to simply flick your hand at worry like a gnat. If worries take more of your thought life than prayer or gratitude, take a firm stand and commit to working on this struggle. Take your thoughts captive, don’t let them run you around. Wake up each morning with a song of thanksgiving in your heart rather than worries on your lips. (Easier said than done, right?) Just like any discipline this will take practice. Don’t give up- it’s worth it.

Following,
Ginger

Choking on Worry

Did you know that the English term for worry comes from an old German word meaning to struggle or to choke? 

That sounds super appealing.

And yet, I could easily be labled a worrier. There is so much content to work with: the state of the country, Syria, North Korea, baby prep, finishing a manuscript, labor and delivery, saving for the future, the health of family members… and on and on.

We are good at worrying.  Stop for one second, could you write at least one thing down that you are currently worried about? How about five?

Does worrying actually accomplish anything?

The average person’s worry will be spent on-
40% on things that will never happen
30% on things about the past that can never be changed
12% on criticism from others
10% on health
8% about real problems that will actually be faced

I know I shouldn’t worry!  I know the Bible says not to. But sometimes I feel SO PRODUCTIVE.  I love my lists – I’ve always made worry lists.

So what’s the big problem with worry? Worry is admitting or uncovering that I can’t trust the Lord enough to believe that He has everything under control, that my life doesn’t surprise him!

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians his overarching point is to remind them to be like-minded by having the same attitude as Christ – striving forward – taking hold of what has already been attained for us. Chapter 4 is where I want to camp for a little while.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

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 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.” (Philippians 4:1-7, NIV)

Euodia and Syndeche are fighting – these leaders of the church – obviously not being of the same love and purpose.  So Paul asks others to step in. Rejoice!  Be gentle with how you handle this situation and don’t be anxious. Turn your requests to the Lord. (For me, any type of confrontation is cause for worry!)

ANXIOUS: extreme uneasiness of mind-brooding fear.

This use of ANXIOUS in this passage is the same greek word used by Jesus in Matthew chapter 6 when he commands “Do Not Worry”.  MER-IM-NAH-O.

This is a clear command – and yet since it was not written on stone like some others, we often disregard it.  Jesus desires this to be a law written on our hearts, transforming us into people who trust Him enough to obey him even when we can’t see what the end result might be. The struggle to give this up is huge for me!

Why do we worry? It’s all about control!

How do we try and deal with it?

  1. Medicate
  2. Ignore/distract ourselves
  3. Over control the situation

But what are some biblical solutions to this challenge?

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun. (Romans 8:26-30, MSG)

He has a plan and purpose for our lives. Let your gentleness be evident to all – the Lord is NEAR!  Paul is communicating what Christ wanted us to get all along.  Worry denies God’s strength, sovereignty, and presence in our everyday lives.

worry

  1. Remind yourself that HE IS NEAR!
  2. He loves you and longs for the very best for you.  Whose are you?
  3. Hide His word in your heart.  Take every thought captive.
  4. Pray, Pray, Pray.

And the peace of God – not necessarily the immediate answer you desire, but the peace of God will flood your hearts and mind.

Following and learning,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Cultivate

It feels as if I’m constantly moving from one awaited event in life to the next. I wait for vacations, visitors, treats, appointments… and most of the time I’m somwhere between irritated and excitedly anxious. But I so want to enjoy the present without living in impatience all of the time!

So how do you and I bridge the gap from impatience to patience?

Grow

1. Ask for it! 

God loves to give good gifts to His children. Asking Him to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in you is request He is thrilled to answer.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with an entire list. “God… I want love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness… oh, and goodness, faithfulness, answers, help, health… Wait, just give me a 9 for 1 deal.  I want the whole fruit basket.” I’ve begun lifting up one quality per week.  You could try this per day, per month, or even year.  But know that answer won’tjust come in an extra dollop of patience.  I’m not saying He can’t or won’t work a miracle, but more than likely… it’s going to take some work.

Remember strength training from yesterday? Ever seen someone bench pressing heavy weights at a gym?  Once you reach a certain weight you need a spotter.  Ask that God would be your spotter as you cultivate good fruit in your life.  “God, I want patience, but I cannot do it without you.  Help me!”

His promise is that He won’t give us more than we can handle… but just enough to make us utterly dependent upon Him!  (“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG)

2. Root yourself in good soil.

I can’t say it enough: eat the Word!  When we are struggling to exhibit certain fruit we should check our nourishment level and source.  Look, if I’m starting to notice jealousy and envy creeping into my life it’s usually an indication that I haven’t been filling up on good stuff.  I’m going to be really honest with you.  I stopped reading popular fashion and celebrity magazines years ago because I just can’t handle it.  I begin to want different clothes, a different body, and sometimes even a different life.  I had to do a lot of damage control by retraining my thought patterns to dwell on good things… aka memorizing!

Struggling with impatience?  Try memorizing some of these verses:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

That’s just a start, but you’d be surprise how having just one ammo verse can help shoot down the start of an impatience rant.  (Anyone else familiar with the screaming that goes on inside of your head, much less what gets verbalized?  Yeesh!)

3. Soak up the accountability.

Obviously your main dependence should always be on the Lord, but thankfully He didn’t put us here all by ourselves!  Be willing to share this desire or struggle with someone and ask for prayer.  If you are really brave, ask them to point out your blind spots.  If patience is what you desire, ask a select friend or mentor to (gently) remind you of instances when this hasn’t been your strong suit.  (Sometimes this calls for a not so gentle kick in the pants.)  Hopefully they will be the kind of friend who will also encourage the good fruit they see in your life!

Remember: growing good fruit isn’t instantaneous. You will have good days and bad days, but thankfully we have One who will never leave us.  Philippians 1:6 says, “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Amen!

Happy Thursday!
Ginger

Friday Finds: RX for Worry

“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.” Philippians 4:6-7, NIV

OR

“Do not be calm about anything, but in everything by worrying and despairing, while complaining, keep your thoughts to yourself. And the anxiety of the world, which will seem so worthwhile at the time, will break down your heart and mind.” Worry 4:6-7

You choose.