Monday, August 24, 2015

Mom-ing Through Faith: On Worry

I used to worry all the time.

I worried about what I did. I worried about what I didn't.
I worried about what I said. I worried about what I withheld.
I worried about what I controlled. I worried about what I couldn't.
I worried about health. I worried about wealth.
I worried about family. I worried about friends.
I worried about the future. I worried about the present. I worried about the past.
I worried about the couldas. I worried about the shouldas. I worried about the wouldas.
I worried about my husband. I worried about my children. I worried about myself.

One of the things I worried about the most? Mommahood. Am I doing it right? Am I preparing them enough? Am I praying for them enough? Am I showing them my love enough? Am I setting a good example enough? Am I doing enough? Am I enough?

I worried. All the time.

But then?

Then I listed to, perhaps, the most powerful sermon I have ever heard. You know what it was about? I'll give you one guess...


It's funny how God gives us what we need, right when we need it most. 

The sermon was by the one and only Andy Stanley. If you are in a place of worry, I strongly recommend that you listen to, or watch, it
Did you know that "Fear not" is the most repeated command in the Bible? The Lord knew we were going to worry. He created us, after all. I mean, here's the thing: We are mommas. So, inherently, we will worry. And if you're like me, with genes and life experiences, and personality traits that greatly exacerbate that worry, that anxiety, well, life can become heavy. Worry can weigh you down. 

But, during the sermon, Andy poses five questions that help to highlight the futility of worry:

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to anyone's life?

Who of you by worrying has probably taken a year off your life?

Who of you by worrying is driving people in your life out of their minds?

Who of you by worrying has upgraded your wardrobe or reduced your grocery bill?

Who of you by worrying has added value to what you value most?

If worry has done none of those things for you, then it makes absolute sense for Jesus to say, DO NOT WORRY. FEAR NOT. But how? How do we not worry? Isn't this easier said than done? Yes. Aren't most things in life that are worth it easier said than done? Yes.

Worry is all about trying to control the uncontrollable. Instead of seeking first the things we have no control over, we should seek first His kingdom. Focus on today--the present--rather than worrying about tomorrow.

As Andy says in the sermon,

When you're tempted to borrow from tomorrow, look for a way to participate in what God is doing today. 

In other words,

Why smuggle tomorrow's trouble into today?

Andy then offers three practical steps to help combat the worry. He says we should:

(1) Begin your day declaring your trust. (Often, if you can get ahead of worry, you can stay ahead of worry. As soon as your eyes pop open each morning, pray: God, I trust in you.)

(2) Relabel your worry: tomorrow. And remember Jesus said I don't need to worry about tomorrow? Therefore, we need to focus on today. I think this verse from the Bible says it best:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34.

(3) When worried about tomorrow, look for a way to participate in what God is doing today. And when you're worried about yourself, pray for someone else, someone going through the same thing, facing the same worries. And focus on the present, not giving in to the worries of tomorrow.

Two things have proven immensely helpful for me over the last few months as I have worked to combat increasing anxiety. 

First, recognizing, as Andy says, that worrying about something does not solve the problem. Worry doesn't change the outcome. It doesn't make the problem go away. Instead, worry over things of tomorrow are robbing me of my joy from today.

Second, being aware that our days are numbered. Sure, I will do my best to keep my children safe and sound, but I have also come to realize that God already has a plan for their lives. He knows how many days they will have on this earth, and me worrying over things I cannot control will not extend the length of their time here. By giving this worry up to God, I have been able to more fully enjoy the days that we have together while not getting bogged down in the worry.

So, as we adjust to new chapters in life, as we take on new challenges, as we close old doors and open new ones, let's rely on our faith. Let's rely on our Jesus. Let's show our children the power of prayer--let's show them that we are putting it all in God's hands, and resting assured in His plan, not our own. This just may trickle down to our babies, after all. They are watching. Let's give them a good, faith-filled show.

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? Matthew 6:25-27.

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