How to conquer worry

Christianity, fear, Parenting

Worried? This morning while reading Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, I had an “A-ha!” moment as I saw the easy process that he lays out.

Here’s the three-step process to conquer worry:

1. Imagine the worst-case scenario. Really. Go there in your mind and pinpoint what you are most afraid of in the scenario that you’re worrying about.

2. Now that you have admitted your worst fear, imagine if that really were to happen. Reject unreasonable fears or accept them as realistic.

3.Accepting that some concerns are realistic, how will you respond in the face of these fears? What will you do? How will you minimize the damage and move forward?

personaldevelopmenttoolbox

My good friend walked me through this process a while back, and it was powerful! I’m not sure if she knew she was following these steps, but it worked. Here’s what happened:

We were planning an overseas mission trip to a city that was experiencing bombings, unrest, and religious fighting with villages being slaughtered.  You can imagine that I had every reason to be afraid, traveling with my husband and our two kids, aged 19 and 13 at the time. On top of that, I had been dealing with excruciating back pain from herniated disks. The idea of a 24-hour overseas flight was causing me such anxiety that the pain and muscle spasms had intensified and I could only experience relief by laying sideways on the ground.

My friend pointedly asked me, “What are you most afraid of?” It’s funny that sometimes when we say our worst fears out loud, we realize that they are ridiculous. I voiced several scenarios that I worried about:

1. What if my back blows out on the plane or over there? It’s a third-world country and I might have to be hospitalized there or flown back in unbearable pain. (Reality: This is very unlikely. However, if it happens, I would take pain medicine and fly home.)

2. What if we were caught up in a riot or religious fighting, or bombing?(Reality: Again, unlikely, since we would be staying outside of the city in a remote village area. However, if this were to happen, I’d be with my husband and kids. This dissolved my intense fear, thinking about the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere without them.)

3. My absolute worst fear: That someone would harm one of my family members. What if someone kidnapped or hurt my children or husband? (Reality: My family probably wouldn’t be targeted for violence. We were not even passing through the crisis area of town so this was a pretty unrealistic fear.)

As I talked through these, I realized that only one of them was a real possibility. If the other things happened, they happened. After going through those scenarios I saw that the mission we were going for was worth the risk. Jesus is worth it even if I was scared to death!

This technique to conquer worry can be used for all kinds of situations that we face: finances, family issues, parenting, health, did I say parenting??? I don’t know about other parents, but the number one thing I struggle not to worry about is my children. That said, worrying is not exclusive to parents.

Jesus commands us not to worry in Matthew 6:25-34:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? (emphasis mine)

This is a helpful tool to think through how unfruitful worry is. Try it out and let me know what you think~

Think about it

Christianity, fear, freedom in Christ, Jesus, joy, Multiple Sclerosis

Think about what you are thinking about. Is it worry, or fear? I heard it put this way recently: Worry is telling God that you think He can’t handle things correctly.

Fear is crippling and will consume us if not proactively fought. We must think about what we are thinking about. I am learning that peace and freedom from fear are my choice….what are you choosing to think on and meditate on? If we are not intentional, fear will be like a roller coaster that we didn’t mean to get on. It will strap us in and take us wherever it wants us to go.

We choose whether or not to get on the roller coaster of fear. If we aren’t proactive about our thoughts, they’ll take us for a ride we may not want to go on…

Check out this song by Hillsong, Forever Reign. It helps to focus my thoughts on Jesus when I am struggling with fear:

Today’s devotional from Jesus Calling addresses this beautifully:

Trust Me and don’t be afraid, for I am your Strength and Song. Do not let fear dissipate your energy. Instead invest your energy in trusting Me and singing My Song. The battle for control of your mind is fierce, and years of worry have made you vulnerable to the enemy. Therefore, you need to be vigilant in guarding your thoughts. Do not despise this weakness in yourself, since I am using it to draw you closer to Me. Your constant need for Me creates an intimacy that is well worth all the effort. You are not alone in this struggle for your mind. My Spirit living within you is ever ready to help in this striving. Ask Him to control your mind; He will bless you with Life and Peace.

Isaiah 12:2; Romans 8:6

Tired of being afraid? I am. After a few months of absolute freedom from fear, it came back fiercely lately since undergoing medical tests to diagnose some neurological issues. Fear & worry seem to be the things I struggle with the most.  The past six months have been up and down and I have struggled with fear and the unknown during lots of tests for multiple sclerosis. So far the tests are inconclusive, as MS is very difficult to diagnose or completely rule out. In the moments of peace that I experience, I have joy and peace that it really doesn’t matter whether I have MS or not…my life is not my own and it belongs to Christ who gives me life. In my worst moments, I run with my imagination and fear the unknown and worst debilitating scenarios that MS can cause. What goes on in our thoughts is our choice. You and I must choose to think on truth; if we don’t, fear and worry can take us for a ride.

Walking through uncertainty

Christianity, fear, freedom in Christ, Jesus, spirituality, Uncategorized

Are you waiting on something in your life? Maybe you are waiting to hear an answer or praying for change. It could be a loved one that you are praying for and waiting for the miraculous, because that’s what it’s going to take for real change. Maybe it’s a diagnosis or maybe you’re seeking God’s direction and you have been waiting, eager to hear from Him.

If you are walking through uncertainty, and waiting for an answer in some area of your life, then you may enjoy this. Today’s reading for the devotional, Jesus Calling, really nails what we need to be thinking on when waiting. As you read, picture God saying these truths to you:

I want to be Central in your entire being. When your focus is firmly on Me, My Peace displaces fears and worries. They will encircle you, seeking entrance, so you must stay alert. Let trust and thankfulness stand guard, turning back fear before it can gain a foothold. There is no fear in My Love, which shines on you continually. Sit quietly in My Love-Light, while I bless you with radiant Peace. Turn your whole being to trusting and loving Me.

2 Thessalonians 3:16; 1 John 4:18

photo by christianbook.com

This little devotional book has been a great source for me lately. Do you ever have those days when you want to sit down with your cup of coffee and read the Bible, but you don’t really know where to dive in? This book has one paragraph reading each day. As I’ve been waiting for answers in several areas of my life lately, this devotional give me a great starting point with truths from the Bible, worded as if Jesus Himself is speaking them. It gives additional Scripture references that help you to dig further. Check it out!

No fear of bad news, laughing at the days to come

Christianity, fear, Jesus, joy, mission, righteousness, spirituality

It’s funny how an upcoming event can fill us with conflicting emotions. We are giddy and excited about an upcoming mission to Africa, meanwhile there are bad reports on the news. Below I found joy in what the Psalmist says about bad news:

Praise the LORD.
Blessed are those who fear the LORD,
who find great delight in his commands.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.

They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;

They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor. (excerpts from Psalm 112, emphasis mine)

I have no righteousness on my own, but only because of Jesus’ sacrifice for my sin. Because of that, this Psalm says that I will never be shaken. I don’t have to fear bad news. Keeping my heart steady, trusting in the LORD, I will have no fear. And as the Proverb says, we can laugh at the days to come.

Here’s where the laughing part comes in for me today:

This makes me laugh out loud every time I read it, because I am guilty of complaining and saying some of these very things! It will be great to put life and annoyances in perspective, visiting with missionaries and nationals as we go in a few weeks to experience third world culture again. Do these thoughts feel disconnected to you? That’s what’s going on in my brain today. Wanting to keep my heart steady on the LORD, trusting in Him, and laughing at the days to come!

Freedom from fear

fear, freedom in Christ, Jesus, mission, spirituality

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with fear. As a believer and Christ-follower, there has been little exception. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing a loved one, fear of going to sleep, fear of what others think….the list goes on and on. Even when I was a teenager, I remember having a sudden onset of fear. Often times this heavy cloud of fear would settle over me out of nowhere, causing me such strong emotion, that I wouldn’t be able to stop crying. Since becoming a Christian 13 years ago, the fears that have plagued me have been more subtle, sometimes masquerading as concerns or worldly wisdom. Sometimes fear will come cunningly, beginning as a subtle feeling of dread that will grow when I don’t actively squash it.

Fear or dread of something bad happening. Has it plagued you?

We are planning a mission overseas later this spring. I was tentative about it at first, even fearful. I talked to my husband, Herschel about it. His advice was surprising but good. He told me that he prays nothing bad would happen. BUT, if it does, he can’t think of a better way to go, than to be obedient to God’s call on your life. This was underscored as I’ve gone through some medical tests over the past month. The results have been inconclusive so far, but the idea that I could have a debilitating disease has caused a surprising response from deep within me! Normally, medical tests like these would paralyze me with fear and dread of the unknown. I would mentally obsess on what might happen. How I might suffer, what if my family suffers, etc. Instead, something wonderful has happened.

Instead of anxiety and fear of something terrible happening, it has freed me! I decided that I can spend the next several months and years with a looming fear of a bad diagnosis. If the bad report never comes, I will have wasted precious time that I can never get back. Instead, it has pushed me to a place of freedom. Freedom to take risks and live life to the fullest!  I want my life to count. When my last breath comes, I want to leave a legacy of freedom and crazy, outrageous faith in Jesus Christ. I want there to be a string of people who have been pulled toward God because of the life I lived. I want my children to have a mom who loved Jesus with abandon. Fear could keep me from that. Comfort has been one of my biggest enemies. I am choosing to get out of my boring comfort zone with walls that have been erected by fear. I’ve decided that to be obedient to Jesus’ calling, I’m going to take His words seriously and not figuratively:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Matthew 16:24-26  

Not that I will take stupid risks because I am not looking to be a martyr. I only want to live a life of freedom from fear, and full of love for my Savior. Interestingly, Jesus says almost the same thing earlier in gospel of Matthew, chapter 10. Maybe he said it twice so we’d hear it.