I’ve been reading a wonderful book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy With God in the Busyness of Life (Revised Edition with New Bible Study) by Joanna Weaver. In it she makes the distinction between concern and worry. Concern is a legitimate thread that is specific, it is addressed rather than obsessed over, it brings forth problem solving, and it looks to God for the answers. Worry, on the other hand, is about some vague threat in the future that might happen, it obsesses over the problem, it creates more problems, and it looks to self or other people for answers. Worry is the view that God has somehow lost control of the situation and we can’t trust him. A legitimate concern brings us closer to the heart of God and causes us to lean on him and trust him. Concern draws us to God, worry pulls us from him.
Are you a big worrier? 10 signs she has in the book from a Dr. Hallowell:
1. You find you spend more time in useless, nonconstructive worry than other people you know.
2. People comment on what a worrier you are.
3. You feel it is bad luck not to worry.
4. Worry interferes with your work because you miss opportunities, fail to make decisions and don’t perform at your best.
5. It interferes with your relationships, people complain that your worrying drains their energy or patience.
6. You know many of your worries are unrealistic or exaggerated, but you can’t control them.
7. You feel overwhelmed with worry and experience panic attacks.
8. You feel a chronic need for reassurance even when everything is fine.
9. You feel an exaggerated fear of certain situations others handle with ease.
10. You parents or grandparents were known as great worries or had anxiety disorders.
So what can we do with worry? We can start with “be anxious about nothing” – not our families, finances, future, past. Don’t allow even one little worry to stay because it breeds more. Then we can “be prayful about everything.” Nothing is too big or too small. As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” Turn your worry into prayer. Fretting just magnifies problems, but prayer magnifies God. And finally “Be thankful in all things.” Count your blessings and you grow your faith. We begin to see life as Christ sees it, full of opportunities rather than obstacles.
Some other ideas:
~ Watch what you watch, listen to, read. Are you bringing in things that breed anxiety? Is it fear-inducing?
~ Ask will this thought draw me into God or into fear.
~ Sketch a plan to handle it.
~ Don’t worry alone. Talk about your fears with someone that is not a worrier.\
~ Take care of your body with exercise and rest. Otherwise everything seems worse than it is.
~ Do what is right. And when you don’t, confess and seek forgiveness right away. Don’t let that cloud hang over you. Guilt is an invitation to confess, not something to weigh you down.
~ Focus on the good around you. Don’t speak negatively about anything, even yourself.
~ Control your imagination. Live in the present, not what might me.
~ Prepare for the unexpected. Have cash reserves, an evacuation plan.