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Beyond Blue


Max Lucado on Letting Go of Anxiety

posted by Beyond Blue

Here is an excerpt from Max Lucado on how to let go of anxiety. Warning: it’s a tad simplistic. It doesn’t address the biological component of anxiety at all and therefore is somewhat unauthentic. But I do like his reminder of going to God with our worry. For the full excerpt, click here.

The burlap bag of worry. Cumbersome. Chunky. Unattractive. Scratchy. Hard to get a handle on. Irritating to carry and impossible to give away. No one wants your worries.
The truth be told, you don’t want them either. No one has to remind you of the high cost of anxiety. (But I will anyway.) Worry divides the mind. The biblical word for worry (merimnao) is a compound of two Greek words, merizo (“to divide”) and nous (“the mind”). Anxiety splits our energy between today’s priorities and tomorrow’s problems. Part of our mind is on the now; the rest is on the not yet. The result is half-minded living.
That’s not the only result. Worrying is not a disease, but it causes diseases. It has been connected to high blood pressure, heart trouble, blindness, migraine headaches, thyroid malfunctions, and a host of stomach disorders.


Anxiety is an expensive habit. Of course, it might be worth the cost if it worked. But it doesn’t. Our frets are futile. Jesus said, “You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it” (Matthew 6:27). Worry has never brightened a day, solved a problem, or cured a disease.
How can a person deal with anxiety? You might try what one fellow did. He worried so much that he decided to hire someone to do his worrying for him. He found a man who agreed to be his hired worrier for a salary of $200,000 per year. After the man accepted the job, his first question to his boss was, “Where are you going to get $200,000 per year?” To which the man responded, “That’s your worry.”
Sadly, worrying is one job you can’t farm out, but you can overcome it. There is no better place to begin than in verse two of [Psalm 23,] the shepherd’s psalm.
“He leads me beside the still waters,” David declares. And, in case we missed the point, he repeats the phrase in the next verse: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.”
“He leads me.” God isn’t behind me, yelling, “Go!” He is ahead of me, bidding, “Come!” He is in front, clearing the path, cutting the brush, showing the way. Just before the curve, he says “Turn here.” Prior to the rise, he motions, “Step up here.” Standing next to rocks, he warns, “Watch your step here.”
He leads us. He tells us what we need to know when we need to know it. As a New Testament writer would affirm: “We will find grace to help us when we need it” (Heb. 4:16 NLT, emphasis mine).
Listen to a different translation: “Let us therefore boldly approach the throne of our gracious God, where we may receive mercy and in his grace find timely help” (NEB, emphasis mine).
God’s help is timely. He helps us in the same way a father gives plane tickets to his family. When I travel with my kids, I carry all our tickets in my satchel. When the moment comes to board the plane, I stand between the attendant and the child. As each daughter passes, I place a ticket in her hand. She in turn gives the ticket to the attendant. Each one receives the ticket in the nick of time.
What I do for my daughters God does for you. He places himself between you and the need. And at the right time. He gives you the ticket. Wasn’t that the promise he gave his disciples? “When you are arrested and judged, don’t worry ahead of time about what you should say. Say whatever is given to you to say at that time, because it will not really be you speaking; it will be the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11, emphasis mine).



  • elizabeth

    this may seem simplistic, but for many this is enough. the passages that helped me over come the anxiety and fear were in Philippians 4. Whatever it true . . . think on these things. For many people, the thought processes are the triggers and when the thought processes are countered and changed it is enough. For me – medication was a big help as I learned how to change my thinking patterns and how to trace back the anxiety to discover the triggers and disarm the “bomb.” It took a long time to find the land-mines that triggered my panic attacks — and to learn ways to deal with the panic that didn’t make it worse. Now I help others do the same. For a lot of people – what is written here is more than enough. If they will apply it and work it on a regular basis — For others, biology plays a bigger part, and sometimes healing from trauma is a bigger part. For me — the first thing I learned, and the first thing I teach is “don’t forget to breath” — just breath -it’s a good start to panic control.

  • Karla M

    Simple is all you can handle when you are worried. Don’t overthink – just pray
    “God, please walk through my home and heart, take away all my worries and illnesses. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
    Then trust Him to do what is needed and relax!

  • Larry Parker

    Go to G-d.
    And to Klonopin.

  • Cully

    When I read this part. “The burlap bag of worry. Cumbersome. Chunky. Unattractive. Scratchy. Hard to get a handle on. Irritating to carry and impossible to give away,” I just had to chuckle – I was picturing a super model on the runway carrying The burlap bag.
    “Part of our mind is on the now; the rest is on the not yet.” I know this very well. It used to be my every waking moment. and even though it isn’t any longer it does rear it’s head at unexpected times (like when I found out the group was public like this blog). About 9 years ago an acquaintance told me what FEAR stood for…False Expectations Appearing Real. It was a light bulb moment!
    I agree with Elizabeth and Karla – when you are in the whirlwind sometimes the smallest glimer of light is all you need.
    Blessings,
    Cully

  • Donny

    The Israelites did not bring us Jesus while worrying about things. They had in place the preventative and cure-all for so many mental and emotional ills. They had stable families. A “tad simplistic” or a pure (and natural) fact? You just don’t see the majority of patients in the mental health system coming from nuclear families. I have been working in this field for over two-decades. The numbers don’t lie either.

  • elizabeth

    donny — that is a great theory, but the nuclear family is often blown apart by the stress of dealing with mental illnesses — not the other way around. I come from a strong nuclear and extended family. Some branches of the extended family have handled the mental illness well, and some have not. I believe the strength in my nuclear family has helped me learn to live with my bi-polar fairly well. Where a cousin of mine has not had it so well as his nuclear family fell apart with his teen years of acting-out and drug use and abuse. but the studies of the amish community and mental illness, (biological markers for schizophrenia) prove that the presence of a strong nulear family does not prevent mental illness.
    But that perception can sure make thoses of us who are parents of children with mental illnesses (like me) blame ourselves for their conditions and that can cripple us in helping them and ourselves as we learn to live well and manage the symptoms of a very biological disease.

  • Larry Parker

    Donny:
    One of my maternal great-grandmothers had schizophrenia.
    My maternal grandmother had bipolar disorder her entire life.
    My mother has had a nervous breakdown and has been treated for depression.
    Obviously, I have bipolar disorder. (Also, alcoholism is endemic on both sides of my family.)
    As Elizabeth rightly asked, what’s the chicken and what’s the egg?
    To you, the first cause (chicken or egg) seems to be a curse from G-d. And that, I refuse to believe, “sins of the fathers are the sins of the sons” be d*mned.

  • Krissy

    How come we have to say G-d and not God?
    Wow, what is the world coming to?
    Prayfully, the end…

  • Krissy

    I have carried anxiety and depression on my back since I was a child!
    I did have my mom leave me when I was 3, and my dad is an alcoholic.
    But there comes a time when you have look back and say…I forgive and let go, or I don’t forgive and Won’t let go.
    As for me, I chose to forgive, and soon after forgiving my mom, she passed away from cancer in 2004.
    The point is, I still struggle, and am on medicine! Zoloft and Klonopin.
    These 2 drugs, get me to the point where I can say that this is a chemical imbalance…
    It doesn’t mean, I don’t believe in GOD or JESUS or anything.
    I believe that God can and will use things like this to aid and help other people.
    I have just let too much time go by!
    Thank God, he is forgiving and just, to wash me clean.
    ~Krissy

  • Cully

    Donny, let’s say you are right – a good/stable family is all that is needed.
    Now, tell us, what would you do with those of us who do not have or did not have good/stable families for us to grow up in?
    Cully

  • Larry Parker

    Krissy:
    For the 27th time …
    When I first came on Beliefnet, I was criticized by several Orthodox Jews for spelling out the full name of the Deity. (I am not Orthodox Jewish — or Eastern Orthodox, or orthodox anything — myself.) Go to Rabbi Boteach’s column here on Bnet for more information about that Orthodox Jewish practice, BTW.
    Once the criticism from Orthodox Jews stopped, I decided to keep the appellation in recognition of the fact that the nature of G-d can never be fully known.
    Honestly, the regulars on BB have heard this so many times, they probably want to vomit …

  • Nancy

    LOL Larry – I actually looked it up a few days ago on why the o was omitted from God for Jews.
    A simple explaination is: if “God” is put in writing it could easily be tossed into the trash can and manged and defaced.
    Anyway Cully I like the question you posted for Donny – Donny, let’s say you are right – a good/stable family is all that is needed.
    Now, tell us, what would you do with those of us who do not have or did not have good/stable families for us to grow up in?
    Cully
    I hope to see the post from Donny because I have seen a lot of people end up mentally ill that do come from good/stable homes and still end up messed up.
    God Bless,
    Nancy aka sixlittlekitties

  • Babs

    Donny — Re stable nuclear families: appearances can be deceiving.

  • Lisa K

    Successful, overachieving, outgoing looks can also be deceiving.I live everyday with a mouse inside my lion. Theresa, I appreciate the way you bring to life God’s plan for us and the way he takes care of us, giving us one piece of the puzzle at a time. I hate that, but that is the way he seems to work, so I will be grateful that that ticket will be waiting when the time comes. And it always seems to be there. So why don’t I get it and just let go and trust? I like the old saying, “when you’re stuck in a lifeboat, pray and row to shore”.Cuz holding onto the tickets until the last minute is what good parents do, so why should God be any different?
    Lisa aka ilibertyi

  • Nancy

    In response to the comment………..
    The Israelites did not bring us Jesus while worrying about things. They had in place the preventative and cure-all for so many mental and emotional ills. They had stable families. A “tad simplistic” or a pure (and natural) fact? You just don’t see the majority of patients in the mental health system coming from nuclear families. I have been working in this field for over two-decades. The numbers don’t lie either.
    Posted by: Donny | January 18, 2008 9:43 AM
    Well – Donny, You haven’t seen everything just because your experience spans over 2 decades. I come from a “nuclear family”. Father went to work. Mother stayed home with children. From all appearances the “Clever” family in NJ. NOT. It was a manipulative and dysfunctional, controlling and emotionally and physically abusive household behind the nice lawn and brick facade.
    Numbers, lie Donny – it just depends on who’s agenda is being filled to support those numbers.
    Nancy L.

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