The Antidote to Nagging Worry and Sleepless Nights

The Antidote to Nagging Worry and Sleepless Nights

Jesus talks a lot about not being afraid. In fact, He devotes Matthew 6:25–34 to instructing us not to worry. He tells us that we don’t need to worry about our lives because God will take care of all the details. He also reminds us that, even when life gets really rough, worrying does not add a single moment to our lives.

So – why do we continue to worry? More importantly, how can we get rid of this nagging worry that keeps us up all hours of the night, tossing and turning?

Excessive concern over a current or possible circumstance, and our lack of control, can take hold and trap us into ruminating, or staying stuck on repetitive thoughts. The reality is that worry chokes us. Worry can make us feel like we can’t even breathe. In fact, Mark 4:19 says that worry chokes out the Word of God—the Truth. Jesus also said this when He taught the parable of the sower.

From a boat on the lake, Jesus was teaching a crowd standing on the shore when He began talking to them about seeds. Using a metaphor they were familiar with, He explained that when the farmer throws out seeds, there are different responses to the seed. I imagine the crowd nodding. They knew the challenges of farming. To be clear, the seed Jesus spoke of is the Word of God. For some people, Jesus explained, Satan comes and takes away the life-giving seeds of God’s Word. For others, “like seed sown on rocky places” (Mark 4:16), people can hear the Word, be filled with joy, but since no root takes place, they fall away. And for some people, the Word of God is “like seed sown among thorns” (Mark 4:18) and the worries of this life choke it and make it unfruitful.

It’s no coincidence that worriers feel as if they can’t breathe and that many people who head to the hospital thinking they’re having a heart attack are actually having a panic attack. When we worry, the Word of God cannot take root in our souls, and a life in His peace despite tribulations seems but a far-off wish or fantasy. This anxiety triggers many other problems, including those sleepless nights mentioned earlier.

But we don’t have to stay stuck in our suffering. Below are three antidotes to nagging worry and sleepless nights:

  • Write down your worrisome thoughts. Journaling is extremely therapeutic, and often recommended by mental health professionals. It will help you process what you are experiencing by writing out the situation you’re dealing with, what you’re thinking, and how you’re feeling. When you can’t sleep, you can take those thoughts keeping you awake and put them out of your mind onto paper, rather than continuing to keep them stuck on repeat in your brain. You can also use your journal to keep track of prayer requests and the answers to your prayers. Journaling helps us see how Jesus is present in the midst of some of life’s most confusing and trying moments, and how our emotions at the time, though legitimate, did not dictate the outcome. After writing down your worrisome thoughts, spend some time reading through how God has answered some of your past fears, and pray about your current conflict as you intentionally lay the worries on Jesus.
  • Use Guided Imagery. As you lie in bed, close your eyes and imagine you finally went to sleep, and upon waking, you are in Israel. You’re standing on the sandy shore of the Sea of Galilee, the warmth of the sun on your face. As you stand where Jesus stood, pause for a moment. What do you hear? What do you smell? Look around: what do you see? What are you thinking? You start to Jesus as He’s walking toward you, His arms open wide, beckoning, waiting to wrap you in a tight embrace. “Come to me, Daughter. I will give you rest.” You run to Him, sobbing, and throw yourself in His arms. Your burden begins to lift. You stare into the face of Jesus and you know—without a doubt—His great love for you. Sometimes, when we’re anxious, our imagination runs away with scary thoughts and images, so this type of exercise is a way of using your imagination to bring healing, hope, and peace to your mind. This is imagination therapy! Psalm 119:15 says, “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” Meditating on the Lord and His word, as King David described in the Psalms, simply means that we quiet our minds and souls enough to clearly hear God speaking as He gives us the rest our souls crave.
  • Allow Jesus to be your peace. We are designed to have peace, to be at peace, and to spread peace because Jesus did not just talk about peace; rather, Christ’s very essence and character is For some who are struggling with nagging worry, as much as they want it to be the case, reading Scripture and praying for peace don’t necessarily lead to peace. At least not immediately. And certainly not just by reading through the verses once or saying a quick prayer for peace. It can take much more time and effort than that. Despite tough circumstances, we can embrace and take in the truth found in God’s Word with an intentional deepening trust that peace can come and only comes through Jesus. Knowing this deep within us can help us relax our minds and bodies enough to actually be at peace.

I love this quote from Corrie Ten Boom: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” While it is tough to stop worrying, it is possible to take control of our thoughts and fears. Journaling, using guided imagery, and allowing Jesus to be your peace are just three ways you can overcome your nagging worry, and get the restful sleep you’ve been longing for.

Do you have any ideas to add to the three antidotes described in this blog post? Please share what has helped you overcome nagging worry and sleepless nights in the comments! 

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Mothering Is the Hard Part

Mothering Is the Hard Part

For most women it’s not hard to become a mom. Of course, that does not discount those who have been unsuccessful in their attempts to conceive. Still, for the majority of people, getting pregnant is easy. And it’s certainly common. Then comes 40 weeks, give or take. Weeks and months of nausea, heartburn, cravings, insomnia, and a swelling body that grows, nourishes, and protects a baby. Mama waiting for the day that little one can be held outside her body. Sometimes patiently, and sometimes impatiently, planning and preparing and praying.

 

As tough as it can be, it’s temporary. And in the grand scheme of parenting, that’s not the hard part either.

 

No – I say the hard part is mothering.

 

Nursing or making bottles. Changing diapers and rocking baby in the middle of the night. Kissing boo-boos and putting the band aid on just right, even if it isn’t really needed. Driving the car pool, going on field trips, teaching the Sunday school. Helping with homework and cooking dinner. Grocery shopping and doling out lots (and lots) of snacks. Taking loads of pictures (and never being on the other end of the camera). Planning birthday parties and (spoiler alert) playing Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Cheering at the football game or dance recital…or soccer or piano or whatever. Buying clothes, school supplies, and the latest gadgets (hello fidget spinner). From teaching them to ride a bike to teaching them to drive a car. Staying up until they’re home and tucked in bed. Late night chats and countless lessons. Listening and loving no matter what. This and so. much. more. That’s the hard part.

 

Whether or not the child came from your womb. Whether or not you are legally “mom”. It’s the mothering that makes you a mom. And mothering is the hard part. So, on this Mother’s Day, I want to wish all you “motherers” a Happy Day. A pat on the back. A whisper in the ear – Good job, mother. You’re doing the hard part, and you’re doing it well.

 

Happy Mothering Day!Mothering

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On Changing Seasons (and Not the Ones that Trigger Allergies)

On Changing Seasons (and Not the Ones that Trigger Allergies)

  Over the last couple of weeks, my allergies have been worse than I can remember. I have tried everything short of acupuncture. Natural cures? Check. Over the counter meds? Check. Prescriptions? Check. Nothing seems to work. But all this focus on the season change that has triggered my allergies got my thinking about another kind of season change. These changes don’t trigger congestion and coughing, but they can trigger other problems: questioning, discontentment, stress, even anxiety. You see – the seasons of our lives change (sometimes frequently), and if we’re not prepared, these changes can bring about upsetting or conflicting thoughts and feelings.

 

We’ve all heard the expression “this is just for a season.” Whether it’s related to raising kids (oh the many seasons of that!), going through school, being a caregiver for an elderly parent…these, and more, are all simply seasons of life. But sometimes accepting a particular season of life is hard. It may be that you do not want the season to end. For example, maybe you’re struggling with your kids growing up. Or, it could be that you are so ready for the leaf that is this season to turn over. Maybe you just want to do it all, and wrestle with the fact that it’s humanly impossible to do so.

 

Can you relate? If so, I want to offer three tips for accepting the season you’re in… accepting the season when it changes…and being prepared for both.

 

  • Repeat after me: I cannot do it all. Then, prioritize. We have to let go of the external pressure to do it all (and do it well). Instead, we have to be willing to internalize the reality that we simply cannot do it all. You may want to volunteer for every worthy cause, work multiple jobs, wear multiple hats at church, be an amazing spouse, be the best parent a child has ever had, and more…but you can’t do it all at once. You have to prioritize what is most important to you in this season of life. The next step will help you do just that.
  • Keep a list of the things you are currently doing, what you may need to set aside, and what you are interested in picking up in the future. Write down every thing you are currently doing, and make a decision about what you can reasonably do in this season of life. This doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your interests for all time, but you may need to set something aside for right now. It may be the case that you have something burning inside of you, but fully recognize you don’t have time to do it well. Keep track of your ideas and journal about how God may build that for you in the future. If you are struggling with moving on to another season of life, writing your interests out will give you some ideas as to what to do next. It may be that you are not ready for your current season to end, but God is saying it’s time to move. Friend, it’s time to obey.
  • Be obedient to what God wants you to do now…and let tomorrow worry about itself. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow. Instead, focus on today. If we get so caught up in the future (whether it’s wanting the future to arrive now or whether it’s wanting the future to come at a snail’s pace), we will miss the beauty of the present. While certainly God will use our todays to prepare us for our tomorrows, we can trust Him in the process instead of focusing on it. Simply be obedient to where and what God wants you to do in this season of life.

 

I know it’s not always easy to accept a current season of life or a change in seasons, but it sure is more peaceful than the alternative. Being prepared can help you stay satisfied in your current season of life, and help you move on to the next one when it’s time. No medications required.

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