Friday, January 17, 2014

Extreme worry can immobilize us

Worrying can destroy everything!

Are you a worrier? I know I am. Because I know this about myself, I also know that when I’m worried or stressed about something the first thing I do is over-analyze the situation. I break everything apart, and then I stew over each piece and then further worry about that. I know nutty right? But, can you relate? 

I come from a LONG line of worriers on both sides of my family. My grandmother (my mom’s mom) was a huge worrier; so much so that she would sit, either on her couch or on the front porch swing, and just stare off into space. I could always tell when she was worried about something because of the rather intense expressions on her face or by the way she rubbed her hands together. My grandfather (my dad’s dad) on the other hand would break into a sweat, start shaking and eventually, have trouble breathing. I think I picked up almost all of these characteristics.

It’s always said that you can tell people are related by physical appearance (similar facial features, same build, etc.) or some sort of similar characteristic. For me, if both of my grandparents were alive today and you put us in a room, it wouldn’t take you long to figure out that we were all related…we’d probably be having one big “worry-fest.” I can just see it now, my grandmother rubbing her hands until they are raw, my grandfather in a puddle of sweat, and me doing a little of both. Now I say that jokingly but I’m afraid it’s true. As a Christian, I am supposed to become more like Christ so when people see me, they see a reflection of him. I am confident one of these characteristics is not worrying.

I've had some pretty "blown out of proportion": worry-fests of my own before. For example: One day, a conversation with my boss at the time took a turn for the worse. Since I primarily worked from home, the only interaction I have with people is over the phone. So imagine this, my boss and I are talking and both phones are breaking up, it’s difficult to hear and decipher anything. Communication is distorted; our tones and voices are strained and elevated, frustration grows, communication stops all together not to be dealt with for the rest of the day. 

Now, I've already admitted to being a first-class worrier. What do you think happens when something like this happens to me? If you're thinking I get're right. My mind immediately goes to the extreme. I stress, my heart rate goes up and a negative tape begins to play over and over again in my head.  Crazy right?

The night after this conversation had taken place, there was an all-out battle in my mind. I knew I needed to lay the situation down at the feet of Jesus and not pick it back up. I’d pray “Jesus please take this situation it’s too heavy for me to carry. I don’t want to be one stressed out mess that my family has to “deal” with throughout the evening.” I tried to think about other things but because I hadn’t truly let go and trusted God with my worry, tension grew and I shut down.

God never wanted this for any of us. He didn’t want us to be “worried” about anything. I can see in my own life that worry has “weighed down my heart” (Prov. 12:25) and has produced fear of what “might be” rather than what is true and positive (Phil. 4:8). I really have some work to do in this area. I don’t want to be this person who worries and is afraid of what “might happen.” I, like Peter, have to swing my leg over the side of the boat, fix my eyes on Jesus, and walk no matter what raging wind or churning sea surrounds me (Matthew 14:21 – 31).

This morning, I reminded myself of the reasons NOT to worry. They all come from Matthew 6:25 – 34 (part of the Sermon on the Mount).  I think I am going to print them out and put them where I can see them every day! 

Reasons not to worry:

1.  My life (v. 25): The same God who created life can be trusted with the details of mine.
2.  My future (v. 26): Worrying about the future hinders my efforts today
3.  Harming myself (v. 27): My health and relationship with others is affected.
4.  Doubting God (v. 28 – 30): God will not ignore me when I depend on Him.
5.  Produces faithlessness/ Lack of trust (v. 31, 32): My worry shows a lack of faith, trust, and understanding of God.
6.  My purpose is hindered (v. 33): God has real challenges for me to pursue and my worry keeps me from fulfilling my purpose
7.  I am “consumed” (v. 34): Living one day at a time keeps me from being “consumed” by worry

(The above list is taken from the NRSV Life Applications Bible published by Tyndale House © 1990)

 Isa. 41:13 (MSG) I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’

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