Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goal #39 COMPLETE: Calm My Anxious Heart

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here. 

Goal 39: Read Calm My Anxious Heart - COMPLETE
Hi. My name is Jennifer and I'm a worryaholic.

Hi Jennifer.

I have a problem - an addiction if you will. My drugs of choice? - "Whys?" "What Ifs" and "If Onlys." I put this book on The List as the first step to recovery (admitting I had a problem). The second step was actually reading the book. From there, the steps get kinda fuzzy, but I know two things: 1) I feel like something can, should and will be done about my worry problem. 2) I am very grateful that I read this book when I did (about a month before my due date).

As if my constant battle with worrying weren't chronic enough, I've now got motherhood to add to my easy excuses as to why it's "okay" to worry. We've all heard it said, "It's a mother's job to worry." And trust me, you hear it (and read it) even more when you're pregnant. (And probably even more when you have the kid.)

But if a mother claims to put her trust in God, how can worrying be her purpose as a mother? It makes no sense and the contradiction can't possibly be Biblical. (Even if a mother doesn't claim to trust in God, I think we can all agree worry is useless and gets us nowhere.) 

While I don't know the Bible cover-to-cover, I can't remember ever finding or hearing about a verse that gives believers permission to worry. Instead, we are told: Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5-6), Do not worry (Matthew 6:25-34), Do not be anxious (Phil. 4:6), Be content in everything (Phil. 4:11). But a cop-out for worrying even though God tells us not to? It ain't in there folks.

Another area where worry gets a hold of me - my actions, not just my thoughts - is in the area of control. I'm a planner and a doer and "waiting on the Lord" is not in my instincts. I'd much rather say a quick prayer and then plunge ahead with my plans if I don't get a speedy response. I "take" control from God when I feel He's being too slow in giving me a clear, precise direction. Being that God is ultimately in control, it shouldn't keep surprising me that time and time again this course of action has done me zero good and brings me right back to worrying as I wonder, "Will this work?" or "Did I make the right decision?" or "What now?"

(Now, the flip-side to this is stepping out in faith. Not really sure yet how "waiting on the Lord" and "stepping out in faith" work together, but I do know that "stepping out in faith in myself" hasn't worked out so great in my life.)

My biggest take-away and put-it-into-action from this book has been learning to turn my worries into praise and prayer. Here's an example: Worry: I don't feel prepared to become a mom. Praise: Thank You Lord for choosing to bless me with these two little boys. Prayer: God, please teach me to be a good, godly mom. Show me how to live in a way that teaches my sons to love You and love others. I need Your help Lord - I know I can't do it without You.

This practice has helped me a lot and it gives my whirling, worrying mind something positive to focus on and causes me to spend more time in prayer admitting my need for God rather than trying to rely on myself (and thus adding to the my stress, worry and burdens).

Second-to-Bottom Line: Worry is no fun. It's a waste of time and energy. It's un-Biblical.

Actual Bottom Line: Not worrying is something that is learned - it takes practice and trust and I've got a big ol' "Work In Progress" sign on my heart and head right now.

"As we grow in trusting God in all things, our contentment becomes an act of worship... we worship God more by contentment than when we come to hear a sermon or spend a half-hour in prayer. These are certainly acts of worshiping God, but they are only external. The soul worship of God is to be content with what He gives, to be thankful in all things." - Calm My Anxious Heart

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