Here’s what you will find if you break into my journal entry for this past Monday morning:
“The overwhelmed feeling is starting to creep in! Full weekends, garage sale, wedding activities, preparation for speaking engagements, preparation for travel, blog posts, volunteer opportunities, youth ministry, friendships, registry, baby stuff. My plate feels full. Lot’s of good things, but that voice in my head wants to tell me this is too much and I should quit while I’m ahead.”
I took a break from journaling and started reading… but that didn’t last long. Soon I was back to journaling.
“Lord – I find myself dwelling on the things I am anxious about. Teach me to have a joyful heart in all of this.”
Step #1 was to admit my anxiety and recognize it wasn’t a place to dwell. I was letting my self-talk run negative and the cycle wasn’t breaking simply by dwelling on it. But step #2 was also within my grasp. Here’s what I tried next.
I wrote ANXIOUS HEART in my journal. Below it I listed every little thing that could keep me up at night or keep me on edge. I wrote out everything the little voice inside of me continued to throw in my face. But then I made another list.
I wrote JOYFUL HEART on the opposite side of the page and made my list of thanks. There were twenty-five items before I even stopped to think what else I could add. Before I knew it, I felt my entire mood shifting, my body relaxing, and my outlook changing.
Yesterday I quoted Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Here’s a refresher:
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you.”
Our thought-lives play such a huge role in our every day lives! No one else may ever know what runs through our minds each day, but we know… and it probably is less that kind and less than beneficial. In fact, I often beat myself up with my own words. And when I beat myself I end up feeling defeated and lonely. When I worry I feel out of control and frustrated.
“Worry is fixating on or meditating on what if rather than what is. Our English word worry comes from the Old English wyrgan and the Old High German wurgen. Both mean “to strangle.” When we worry, we choke out the life-giving truth that should be filling our thought closets.” – Jennifer Rothschild, “Me, Myself, & Lies”
The words we listen to become the soundtrack of our lives. I can play my beat up playlist if I want, or I can switch to meditating on giving thanks for God’s wonders and God’s Word.
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
If your thoughts today are less than pleasing, can I encourage you to hit the pause button? Play a different track. List your many blessings, call a friend, write a letter, get outside, open up the Word, and start meditating on the WHAT IS rather than the WHAT IF.
Following and learning,