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

Reminder

You are seven days into 2013. If the newness is already wearing off and, like me, you find that your anxiety list is doubling in size…

May I encourage us all to just stop?

Before to-do lists and guilt-trips take over your thought life-

Before “should have done that better” and “I need to be doing more” creep in-

Before your prayer list is filled with fear, worry, stress, and panic-

Stop.

Faith believes that God can and God cares. A teacher on my trip to Israel shared that tidbit and it has become something of a mantra. When my faith leaks out and I find myself overwhelmed by the size of the waves, I ask myself: What am I not believing? Either I don’t believe He can or I don’t believe He cares.

faith

27 After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”

28 They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them,“Do you believe I can make you see?”

“Yes, Lord,” they told him, “we do.”

29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.30 Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! (Matthew 9:27-31, NLT)

Faith believes that God can.

13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14, NLT)

Faith believes that God cares.

In the midst of your story today, He sees, He hears, He knows. He can and He most certainly cares.

“Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands.”

– Elisabeth Elliot

Following and learning,
Ginger

The Edge of Trust

I doubt any of us wish that we could worry more often. I’m guessing none of us placed “Become captive to worry” on our list of resolutions for the year. Most of us know we should worry less, and if we want to be obedient to Jesus’ command, we should not worry… at all.

STATISTICS
Did you know that an average person’s worry is focused on:
40% of things that will never happen
30% of things in the past that can never be changed
12% about criticism from others
10% about health
8% about real problems that will be faced

I know what you’re thinking, because I thought the same thing when I saw the list. If that 8% is a valid worry about real problems that I will face, shouldn’t I at least get that, a measly 8% to stew and simmer keep me awake at night?

Here’s the big problem with any worry. Worry is a deeper issue than just how a situation makes me feel. Worry demonstrates a lack of trust. But what if I trust God in 92% of my life? What if it’s just that 8% that I hold onto?

That’s 8% of my life where I essentially proclaim: I don’t trust you, God.

Why do we worry? Because we want to be in control! How do we try and deal with worry? Some medicate it, ignore it, distract themselves with a bottle, or some try and just mentally control it. I’m the queen of that one.

FOR THE GOOD
God’s care in our lives should combat our worries. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

That’s a comforting thought: “God’s going to work things together for my good.” But then I think it’s only natural to let your mind wander to those situations that haven’t seemed (at least from our perspective) to bring forth any good at all. That’s where Romans 8:29 comes in.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

The very good for each of us is that we would be “conformed” or molded to be more like Jesus. I have to keep reminding myself that this is what I want. If only I could turn my worry into the kind of prayer that says, “I want to be more like your Son. Use whatever catalyst necessary to bring out more of Him in my life.”

HIS GOOD IS GOOD
His good is good.

When you are tempted to worry today, try reciting that to your heart. His good for me is so good.

Following and Learning,
Ginger

Keeping the Peace

I’ll be honest with you, friends. Yesterday I did not heed my own post, much less God’s Word. We talked about the command given in Matthew 6 by Jesus, the command that’s 100% for our benefit: “Do not worry.”

But lest you think I’ve somehow graduated from this area of struggle, let me share with you how my evening progressed.

LAST NIGHT
10:02 pm I hand my laptop to my husband and ask him to read through the post about worry. My husband and sister both have the esteemed (and non-paying) position of proofreaders for my posts. He finishes and gives me a correction or two and then we close up the laptop.

10:11pm I begin tearing up. I’m struggling again because of numbers on a scale, the amount of projects due at the same time (why is it always feast or famine?), and everything else I could choose to think about in that moment. My husband calmly asks me what’s wrong. I start to make my list when he gently reminds me, “Didn’t I just read a post written by someone about not worrying? None of these things are worth the worry about, right?” I’m nodding through my tears but I’m just so frustrated that I can’t pull it together and listen to the call of my Savior, “Do not worry.” 

10:20pm We pull out the book that we’ve been reading in preparation for our upcoming trip to Israel. “Going Places With God” by Wayne Stiles is a devotional book about the lands of the Bible. We take turns reading aloud, and last night just happened to be a night for me to read. As I read about the gardens, Eden and Gethsemane, I can’t help the tears that begin making their long trek down the side of my face. But I push through and eventually read… “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed. Only the Lord knows the staggering potential inside each decision we make. Like Adam in Eden, we can compromise God’s Word in the here and now and live with overwhelming regret. Or, like Jesus in Gethsemane, we can take God at His Word…”

10:26pm I’m in tears again, but this time peace and hope have somehow started to force their way through my worries. As I close my eyes to fall asleep I hear God say, “Will you take me at my Word?”

TODAY
God is leading me into peace this morning by showing me His Word.

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.” Romans 5:8, The Message

People with their minds set on you,
   you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
   because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
   because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.” Isaiah 26:3, The Message

We need to keep our minds in the right place, taking Him at His Word if we want to move from WANTING peace to EXPERIENCING peace. I have so much to learn.

Seeking peace,
Ginger

Peace beats Worry.

Rock beats scissors.

Scissors beats paper.

Paper somehow beats rock.

Peace beats worry.

I come from a long line of worriers.  I believe the predisposed gene for it increases through the generations.  My mom actually has two times the normal dose within her. (WINK.)  The pinnacle of worry occured the year that I graduated from college.  I was moving out for good, my sister was moving into her first house at college, and my brother – the baby, had just gotten his drivers license.  We didn’t even really need to worry for ourselves – she worried enough for the rest of us.

WORRIES

That being said, I’m fairly confident that I received the dominant trait for worrying.  I “plan” ahead simply to mask my worrying.  I worried that I would never meet “the one.” I worry about making friends, I worry about keeping our fig tree alive, my weight, my business, our future… I could go on and on, but it’s probably better if I don’t.

Sometimes I try to mask my worry by praying. My long-winded prayers are often brought before the Father  just in time for me to let go… once the event is over.

“Thank you God that somehow this happened and you pulled me through. I’m sorry I was freaked out the whole time. I probably should have asked for help at some point. Thank you for seeing me through… again.”

CLIMBING

Picture this:  I decide to climb a mountain, we’ll say Pike’s Peak.  I have a heavy bag of equipment that I will need for camping later that evening, but not during my hike.  I’m slowly heading up the mountain when someone in a jeep pulls up and offers to drive my pack up a good portion of the mountain so that it will be there when I need it.  But I refuse… perhaps I might need the tent on the way up!

I know it’s not the best analogy, but you get my drift, right? It’s ridiculous to think that I wouldn’t hand off the heavy stuff when someone asks to help and yet that’s the way I so often come before the Lord.  Matthew 6 is very clear about what we are to do with our burdens:  DO NOT WORRY.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”  Matthew 6:25

This isn’t a suggestion.  Jesus doesn’t merely say “I would suggest you don’t worry.”  This is a command.  A COMMAND – just like those 10 we know so well.  So why do we take this one so lightly?

Satan will try anything to distract us from the peace God wants to give!  Don’t let him win with worry.  Give it up – Jesus knew what he was talking about!

PRAYER > WORRY

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7, The Message

Peace wins over worry when we learn to pray. My mom teaches me this by example on a daily basis. Although she airs her worries, I also know that she takes them daily to the throne of grace and asks God to give her peace. She reminds me to pray about everything, to pray specifically, and to pray with thanksgiving!

Let the peace of God move in your heart this week! Turn your fears into prayers and those prayers will turn to peace!

Listening and Following,
Ginger

Peace Like a River

“Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165, NIV)

Where and how do you find peace in this crazy world? I hope you’ll share in the conversation this week!

Seeking Peace,
Ginger

Peace

The great C.S. Lewis is best known for his popular Chronicles of Narnia series but it’s his work as a lay theologian and Christian apologist that endears him to me the most.  (Although The Magician’s Nephew is in my top five books of all time!) Lewis became a born-again believer when he was thirty-two and his conversion had an incredible effect on his work.

In 1956, he married the American writer Joy Gresham. Their time of wedded joy was short, as she died just four years later of cancer.

His book, “A Grief Observed”, is a poignant and humble account of the loss of his wife and the subsequent period of intense mourning that followed. Lewis does not cover his anger or mask his pain. Instead, he leaves his internal struggle for all to read on the page. His expression of grief is both haunting and challenging.

Lewis writes, “God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t… He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.” 

How comforting to know that one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century struggled to make sense of suffering. Lewis entered the grieving process angry and embittered and came through the storm claiming to be no more knowledgeable, but simply more inclined to recognize his finite position in comparison to the Almighty God. The conclusion was not one of giving up, but of giving in. He embraced a peace that surpassed all understanding. The peace that Lewis discovered was not found in forgetting his wife and therefore releasing pain, but in clinging to his Heavenly Father and finding in Him, a more perfect peace.

Isaiah 26:3 reads, You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

That’s a promise worth claiming every day. That phrase, ‘perfect peace’, actually translates to the Hebrew word Shalom and means: to be safe, complete, a satisfied condition. May we, like Lewis, find ourselves satisfied in Him even in the darkest of circumstances.  I know that’s my hope and my prayer.

Following,
Ginger

Worry

I come from a long line of worriers.  I believe the predisposition for worry actually increases through the generations.  My mom has two times the normal dose within her.  It all came to head the year that I graduated from college.  I was moving out for good, my sister was moving into her first house at college, and my brother – the baby, had just gotten his drivers license.  We didn’t even really need to worry for ourselves – she worried enough for the rest of us.

I’m fairly confident that I received this same dominant for trait worry.  This is me worrying while I’m on the phone with a certain cell phone carrier trying to fix our accounts.

Double-fisted worrying.

You want to know the truth?  My mom really can’t be classified as a worrier any more than I can. We don’t get to claim that as a personality trait.  (Thank goodness.)  Why? Worry is sin. It’s like me declaring that I steal because “that’s just the way I am.”  Labeling ourselves as worriers simply admits defeat when we should be fighting for victory.

I’ve always planned for the future by worrying.  That’s logical, right?  I worried that I would never meet the one, or be able to pay my cell phone bill, or perfect a song to sing at a wedding, or manage my weight… I could go on and on, but it’s probably better if I don’t. My long-winded prayers were brought before the Father – just in time for me to let go… once the event was over.

Picture this:  I decide to climb a mountain, we’ll say Pike’s Peak.  I have a heavy bag of equipment so that I’m prepared for anything.  I’m climbing when someone in a jeep pulls up and offers to drive my pack up a good portion of the mountain so that it will be there when I need it.  But I refuse… perhaps I might need the hang glider on the way up!

Ridiculous and yet that’s the way I so often come before the Lord.  Matthew 6 is very clear about what we are to do with our worries:  DON’T.

So I tell you, don’t worry about the food or drink you need to live, or about the clothes you need for your body. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothes.  Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. And you know that you are worth much more than the birds.  You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it. Matthew 6:25-27, NCV

This isn’t a suggestion.  Jesus doesn’t merely say “I would suggest you don’t worry.”  This is a command.  A COMMAND – just like those 10 we know so well.  So why do we take this one so lightly?

Satan will try anything to distract you from the peace God wants to give you.  Don’t let him win with worry.  Give it up. Jesus knew what he was talking about.

Following,
Ginger

P.S. My mom is a super wonderful woman who teaches me to daily turn my burdens over to the Lord.  We are both a work in progress in this arena… but she’s leading the way in victory.