To depict me as High Anxiety is like describing coffee as black. Yep, it is, and yes, I am.
But the beauty of coffee is that when you add milk, sugar, flavorings, whipped cream and sprinkles, these elements mitigate the acidity, turning the product into something palpable to drink, and the same can be said for anxiety.
On this earth, you’ll never run out of things to worry about, but when you adjust the way you worry, you don’t have to scrabble through life as a quaking, quavering, trembling, shuddering, pathetic lapdog — you know, like an over hybridized Chihuahua that barks itself into a heart attack.
Through the years, I’ve picked up some coping strategies, and while I’ll probably never slow down to the speed of a turtle, I can accept being a house cat: alert, playful when I want to be, cautious, but capable of spending 2/3 of the day snoozing in the master bedroom.
Go Easy on Yourself
1) Let’s start the list by eliminating pressure to perform: don’t call worry a sin.
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? or ‘What shall we drink? or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matthew 6: 31-32)
Some people use this verse to condemn, saying, “See? Pagans worry. Christians shouldn’t.”
In the same way, however, that our heavenly Father knows that we need necessities of life, He also knows that we worry about them. Jesus is comforting us in this verse; if He’s not slapping us, then why do we do so?
First Things First
We advise this to one another so much that the word becomes meaningless, but it’s only so if we don’t believe that prayer has any effect. Jesus’ response, first and foremost to anything, was to pray, and we can’t fail by following His example.
“Cast all your anxiety on him (God) because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5: 7)
You can’t solve your problems, my friend, no matter how self-sufficient you are. At some point, you will reach the end of your abilities, resources, and strengths, and if you recognize from the beginning that they are finite but your Father’s resources are not, you’ll move further, faster.
The faith you need to trust God’s love for you comes from God Himself, so when you pray, make this one of the things you ask for.
Get It out of the Way
3) Stop procrastinating.
If there’s an unpleasant job that needs to be done and it’s spiraling you into worry, get the task done and behind you. Usually, it’s not as bad as what you’re thinking it will be.
A friend told me about a financial undertaking she had been putting off: “Yesterday, I sat down and got it done, and I saw solutions that I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t been working on it. It was as if God told me, ‘I can’t show you answers when you won’t face the problem.’”
Some unpleasant tasks take a day to solve; others are long term — but none of them progress when we ignore them.
Don’t live your problems, all the time, and this includes praying about them. Pray for somebody else, which has the side effect of reminding us that others hurt, too.
After Jesus tells us not to worry in Matthew 6, He concludes:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Your mind is active and it has to be focused on something. When you read through the Bible, don’t just look for verses that apply to your situation; read the stories of the Gospel or the history in the Old Testament, and ruminate:
“What did it feel like, walking through the parted Red Sea?” (Exodus 13)
“What did the widow think as she poured an unending stream of oil from one container into jar after jar after jar, covering the floor of her home?” (2 Kings 4: 1-7)
“What did Stephen see, as he was dying?” (Acts 7: 59)
In reading and reflecting on what God has written, you are seeking His kingdom, even if it doesn’t feel like it, because you’re focusing your thoughts on Him. Trust Him enough to believe that you don’t have to be actively thinking on, talking about, or muddling over your concerns for God to be working on them.
The Hardest Thing to Do
Either God is real, or He isn’t. Either His words are true, or they’re not. Either we can trust Him, or we can’t.
Ultimately, it comes down to this, and if we are to function as children of Our Father the King on this earth, we need to trust Him. This is a lifetime process. Rather than waste time castigating yourself that you’re not faithful enough, ask Him for faith. And rather than pursue hocus pocus techniques to force God’s hand (“Declare” “Claim” “Name” “Proclaim the Promises” — if it requires certain techniques to “work,” it won’t), ask Him for the patience, wisdom, trust, strength, and hope that you need to get through each day.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity. The beauty of Christianity is that it is designed for ordinary, everyday people, and you don’t have to have a degree to follow Christ. My writing is designed to encourage you — that beautiful, everyday Christian — to talk to God, read what He has to say in the Bible, marvel at the world He has created, and stop depending upon “experts” to tell you what and how to believe.
In the end, we are all ordinary, everyday people. The ones who are blessed are the ones who realize this. The sad cases are those people who sashay through life convinced that they deserve the best because they are smarter, wiser, savvier, better, and more deserving than anyone else.
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Worrying about the Future (at my companion blog, This Woman Writes)