Sometimes I think I was born worrying.
I perfected the art of asking “what if” questions as I was learning to read, write, and get along with others. Now I’ll be the first to admit that anticipating negative “what ifs” when it comes to trying to avoid the negative consequences of problematic words and actions is a good thing.
But for some of us … it goes way beyond that to a place where we’re wired with worry most of the time.
My doctor called it high anxiety agitated depression. And I was good at it!
Oh, sure … I knew the Bible verses:
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.1 Peter 5:7
Don’t worry, because I am with you.Isaiah 41:10a (NCV)
Tell those who worry, the anxious and fearful, “Take strength; have courage! There’s nothing to fear. Look, here—your God! Right here is your God!Isaiah 35:4 (Voice)
I knew the words in my head but I had trouble applying them to my heart and an even harder time convincing my insides to believe them.
I decided I must have a melancholy personality because anxiety over my own or someone else’s problems consumed most of my thoughts. Even though God’s Word was clear…
Worry and anxiety were not God’s plan for me.
Look at these words of Jesus from The Sermon on the Mount from The Message paraphrase:
“What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions … Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.Matthew 6:31–32,34 (MSG)
Maybe like me, you know the words but you’ve had trouble letting them a difference in your life.
We break down every thought and proud thing that puts itself up against the wisdom of God. We take hold of every thought and make it obey Christ.2 Corinthians 10:5 (NLV)
I think this was my problem. I wasn’t actively doing what needed to be done to be free of my anxious worried thoughts.
Read those words again…
… Break down every thought and proud thing that puts itself up against the wisdom of God. We take hold of every thought and make it obey Christ.
It takes the power of the Holy Spirit and intentional proactive change to live worry and anxiety free.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
How to Live Free of Worry and Anxiety at Last
It’s funny … I sometimes wonder if Paul struggled with worry and anxiety himself … because he wrote about it so often. The words the Holy Spirit gave him to write and then used to finally help me take action and fight my own struggle head-on are found in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.Philippians 4:6–8
But I needed to pull the words apart and actively learn how to apply them!
1. Admit that God Doesn’t Want You to Worry!
Don’t worry about anything!
I had to finally stop excusing my worry and anxiety as just being part of who I am and admit that it is wrong – because it is not God’s will for me. And the truth is … it’s not God’s will for you either.
So, join me in confessing worry and anxiety and stand in agreement with the truth of God’s Word. He wants so much more us.
Write the Word on post-it notes and stick them on your bathroom mirror, your dashboard, and inside your planner. Read the Bible every day to begin and end each day implanting God’s promises in your heart and mind.
Pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
When God asks something of us . . . He will help to make it possible.
So, when you and I start to worry, He wants us to stop, identify it as a problem and pray.
My Prayer Plan…
- I admit that God doesn’t want me to worry about this problem.
- I tell God why I’m worried.
- I surrender the problem to Him and ask Him to help me carry it.
- And then I express that I know the Lord is able to help me face this situation, that I trust His love and know that He is with me. I ask Him to guide me to do what He wants me to do and help me to wait on Him.
3. Thank God for His Past Provision.
Thank Him for all He has done.
When I remember all that God has done in the past and thank Him for His help and provision, I can usually stop and say … “God, You have gotten us through more difficult situations than this one. I know I can trust You to help us live through this one as well.”
I can trust Him to keep His promises today because He has always kept them in the past.
Promises like this one…
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
4. Change Your Thoughts
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
When I want to change my thinking, I have to change what I’m doing.
I call a friend, take a walk, get a snack, play with our puppy, read a book, turn on some music or a classic movie, or exercise. I do something that will help me focus my thoughts on what God says is true, honorable, right, pure, etc. Things that will help me remember that I am a loved child of the God of the universe who has promised to never leave me or forsake. Whatever He allows … He will help me endure.
That has always been true in the past and I believe it will always be true in the future!
5. Bring Your Worry and Anxiety into the Light.
Talk to a friend, a counselor, or your doctor.
Too often our worries and anxieties reveal themselves in the middle of the night. We toss and turn fretting over things we can do nothing about.
I’m learning to take those dark hour thoughts and replace them with God’s truth. I praise God from A to Z. I repeat verses I’ve memorized. And I turn to Him in prayer.
The problem was that once I’d gotten through the night, I’d get busy and rush around trying to ignore my feelings until sleep evaded me again.
Nighttime anxiety loses some of its power after it’s been brought into the light through a helpful hopeful conversation. So, talk with someone who has previously experienced what you’re going through or with a professional who has been trained to help those who are emotionally drained from worry and anxiety. Don’t try to do this alone.
God is with you and He has put people around you to help.
I love this verse. I’m writing it down and keeping it close…
The Lord is the One Who goes before you. He will be with you. He will be faithful to you and will not leave you alone. Do not be afraid or troubled.Deuteronomy 31:8 (NCV)
One of our greatest blessings is God’s promise to never leave His children alone and afraid!
He will give us everything we need to live one day at a time free of worry and anxiety and that’s a great reason to give Him glory!
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