Since posting my thoughts on the subject of worry, I've been pondering it more deeply--the meaning of worry and why I have a natural tendency, when left unchecked, to worry. I'm sheepishly ashamed of what I have discovered about myself, but am willing to share in hopes of perhaps encouraging a fellow worrier or two out there. At the very least, this will be an exercise in my endeavor to live a more transparent life. :)
Three main reasons for my many years of clinging to worry have come to light in my mind and heart. And now that I recognize their existence I am fighting against them with Truth. A friend of mind recently reminded me to "take every thought captive" (2Corinthians 10:5), and I am really taking those words to heart! Most times anyway. Let me share with you the three lies I have been believing for far too long.
I don't deserve to let go of my worries. Now, that is the truth and a deception, both at once. The truth is that, by my own merit, I don't deserve any of the blessings God offers me. I don't even deserve to still be breathing! But the deception comes in when I allow myself to believe any of it has anything to do with me or with what I deserve. Deserve, it's such an easy word to throw around. I don't deserve this, I do deserve that. The truth is that only God gets to truly decide what He will allow in a person's life, and it doesn't always have to do with what we deserve or not. None of us deserves the free gift of salvation and freedom He offers, but it's there for the taking anyway. The truth is that He tells us in His Word not to worry. Where's the faith, the trust, if we worry and take things into our own hands? Where's the obedience? It's not for us to decide what's fair. It's for us to obey.
I hope to manipulate God. Okay, that's a really strong statement, and not one that I've ever thought in so many words. But actions often speak louder than words, right? Here has been my theory: They say that something like 90% of what we worry about never happens. So, oh-so-wise-self, if it occurs to you to worry about it, it's less likely to happen! Right? I never in a million years thought that the injustice my beloved husband is suffering right now was a possibility. It never occurred to me to worry about it, so that's why it happened, right? I didn't "worry it away." Right? Or, if I think of everything that could possibly happen, then I can't be taken by surprise.
Oh, Laurie of Little Faith! Do you really think God can be manipulated? And in such a stupid way? Could He bring Himself to think, "Oh, well, Laurie disobeyed and worried, so I won't allow that particular thing to happen. She forgot to worry about this other thing, though, so I'll zap her with that one!" It's almost laughable! If it wasn't such an utterly twisted way of thinking. If it didn't do so much damage in a person's life.
Worrying isn't nearly as bad as other things I've done in my life, or could do. The truth? It's sin. Plain and simple, yet sometimes hiding behind obscurity and complexity.
Taking every thought captive has been my best defense against worry lately. What does this mean? I'm not an expert, but here's how I interpret and apply it:
1. Know God's Word. We have to read and study and think about the Bible to know what is true and what is false, what is pleasing to God and what is sin. If God hates it or tells us not to do it or think about it, He means it and has good reasons for it! Evil is never good, no matter how it disguises itself. Memorize passages that speak to you about worry or other sins your are battling.
2. Be aware of what you're thinking! That sounds like a really dumb thing to say, in a way, but how easy it can be to dwell on something for awhile without even realizing it! I guess this means to be diligent and purposeful in what we spend our time thinking about.
3. Choose wisely. A thought enters your mind. Immediately ask yourself, "Does this pass the Philippians 4:8 test?" (Phil. 4:8: " . . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.") If so, it's probably okay to dwell on it longer. If not (and worry does NOT pass that test!), the thought needs to go.
4. Pray!!!!!! Since I've been putting this into practice, I find it easier to automatically ask God to help me remove worrisome thoughts from my mind and heart. I tell Him, "God, You say in Your word that . . . " and I quote His own word back to Him. Ha--not that he needs reminding, of course! But Jesus quoted Scripture when He Himself was tempted. Following His example has been ever so beneficial to me in my battle against worry.
5. Repeat. I mean, it's rare that worrisome thoughts wouldn't try to return just because they have met some resistance. We must be vigilant!
I've shared this with people before, but I think it kind of applies to this situation as well. In my early 20s, I battled pretty major depression. For me,* it was a spiritual battle. I didn't need medicine. I needed a spiritual makeover, so to speak. Our minds are a battleground! Our minds are where sin begins. Do we believe God or not? Will we dwell on the things of God or the things of His enemy? In my case, when I began to dwell on truth, to take God at His word, to pray against the deep, deceptive sorrow that sought to drown me, hope took root. The more I stood on what I knew to be true, instead of my feelings and emotions, the more my feelings and emotions began to match up with with the truth, with normalcy, with a healed, whole person. Then, one morning I woke up and realized it had been awhile since I had to consciously fight depression. It had become a habit to think on truth and act on what I knew to be true (in that area anyway!). Perhaps fighting worry is the same idea.
I'll let you know. Someday . . .
*Depression has different causes. Mine was a spiritual problem, but that doesn't mean I think there can't be a medical problem causing this for some people!