The Monster Hiding in Plain Site

What if.

What if I get sick again? What if I never get over this pain? What if I mess up my kids? What if we don’t have enough money? What if I don’t get the promotion? What if I never get married? What if…what if…what if…

The what if monster is hiding in plain site. This monster causes fear and worry. Insecurity and stress. This monster is lurking everywhere just waiting to bring us down Ugh. Get out of here you monster!

In Matthew 6:27 Jesus asks, “Can any one of you by worrying add even a single hour to your life?” Great question. I remind myself of this question frequently. Clearly, the answer is “NO.” Worry does get us something, but it’s not positive. We certainly don’t get time added to our lives by worry. Instead, we feel bad emotionally and physically. Worse, it can impact our relationship with the one who clearly tells us we should not worry.

Friends, I know, and I mean I really know, that this is easier said than done. But, I am committed to working harder to focus on the One who created me not to worry. He can help us kick that old what if monster to the curb.

 

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“End of Summer”

Even though summer doesn’t technically end until September 22 (my dad’s birthday!), most of us tend to think of summer coming to a close when the new school year starts. It’s hard to believe that time is upon us once again. I, for one, am looking forward to getting back into a routine. For me, it has been a long summer filled with ups and downs. Although I used to love the hottest weather of the year, I have been thankful for the unusually cool weather this summer. Part of my “ups and downs” have been related to health, and that summer heat would have been terrible to put on top of all that. So, yeah, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Yet, if I am honest, it has been tough. Especially to be away from home during this time. In fact, I recently wished I could go back a few years…to my old house, living 5 miles from my parents, going to my home church at least twice a week, being closer to friends I’ve had for years, etc. Then, I had to stop and remind myself of all that we have been blessed with as a result of the changes we have faced. The AWESOME experience of working for Liberty University and attending Thomas Road Baptist Church. The job opportunities my husband has had and will have. The relationships that are being built. We know we are here for this season for many reasons, and we are excited for whatever lies ahead. Will you please pray for physical and emotional relief and strength as we move into another year? And if you are in a similar place, let me know and I will pray for you too. (If you are a teacher or a student or the parent of a student…I am already praying for you!)  As the ever true expression goes, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” I hope you do too.

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A Culture of Worry

I recently found myself nervous about several situations all at once. Despite Bible study, prayer, worship, and a little too much talking things over with my husband, I was still, dare I say, worried. In the end all three of the circumstances worked out for the best. As they usually due. Sigh. Cue the guilt for lack of faith. Double sigh.

 I began to ponder, “Why did I go through this cycle…again?!?” Then I started thinking about all the folks I know who have expressed to me their own struggle with worry, and I started wondering why we all seem to worry so much. It came to mind that there are a number of possible reasons:

1)    We live in a culture of negativity.  We have 24/7 access to the news telling us what’s happening around the world. Most of the news isn’t so great. It can easily lead us to questions that cause fear and worry. What if something like that happened where I live? What could possibly happen next? Why is this happening?!? We stand around the water cooler (ok, does anyone actually do that?) fretting and complaining about all that bad news, but we also waste time on the mundane things in our own lives that don’t even matter. I’m calling myself out on this one too. Yes, bad things are happening all around us, and that will keep happening. We can’t do something about everything, nor should we sit around worrying about it all. Instead, we need to recognize what we do have control over, what we can help with, and we should spend more time focusing on all of the positive around us.

2)    We live our lives too publicly. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Blogs. I’m on them all too. We live our lives so much more publicly than in the past, and it seems to me that we set ourselves up. We can’t possibly live up to the expectations we set for ourselves. I remember reading this article in college about how we are often so much harder on ourselves than anyone else is on us. I think it’s true. So what if someone doesn’t think you look thin enough or if someone doesn’t like your hair cut or if someone doesn’t agree with your post? We worry too much about what others think, and part of it is because we expose ourselves too much to too many people…many of them who aren’t even really friends. Maybe we can learn to be open, even transparent, without worrying about what others think.

3)    We are nurtured to worry and we nurture others to worry. When others around you, especially children, hear and see you worrying (yes, it is palpable!) they are more likely to begin to worry as well. In a way, it can be contagious. And it can become a habit. A go-to emotion. We all know the expression “misery loves company” and we sure do want others to join us in our worry. We want others to agree with us and tell us we are right to be upset. But, why? Do we really want others to experience that negative emotion? What if we just ask for support without dragging others down? And what if we tried not to “go there” when others want us to? Boundaries are tough, but important.

4)    We actually don’t rely on our faith enough.  While I refuse to feel guilty when I am forgiven, I do believe there are times when I worry because I am not focusing enough on my faith. I can do all the “right things” such as praying and Bible study, but am I really, really, really focusing on the truth of God’s word and His will? Not when I spend my time ruminating over things that aren’t going perfectly. What about you?

Friends, there are lots of reasons why we worry. I know the last point above is true for me. Maybe the others are true too. But, the bottom line is that knowing this information won’t actually stop me from worrying. I have to completely redirect my focus and attention. I have to stop focusing on the negative. I have to stop being concerned about what others think about me, and focus on what God says about me. I have to stop bringing others to this place of worry with me, and stop allowing them to lead me to worry. And I must Trust. In. God.

Join me?

 

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