I’ve said it before, but anxiety is one of my bad habits. I keep on learning to work with it and bring my worries into God’s presence. I’ve joked that “Maybe Jesus is right about anxiety.” Of course he is, but saying it that way helps me back into that truth in a way that gets past my defenses.
Recently, I happened to read one of my “go to” passages about worry in The Message version. I love it:
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)
I’ve learned that when I feel worry, I can still choose peace. I realize that there are thoughts underneath these feelings. Often, it’s a sentence that starts with “What if?”
What if I don’t have what it takes to pull this off (whatever this is)?
What if I don’t have enough [fill in the blank]?
What if, what if, what if.
Going back to where I began, “What if Jesus really is right about anxiety and worry?” I can engage God in prayerful listening and conversation. I can talk about what concerns me. I can ask for what I feel I need. I can express praise and gratitude for God who is not erratic like me. I can pray my concerns instead of worrying them.
One of the challenges for me is learning how not to worry about my worries. I find myself feeling anxious, and then I add thoughts about my worries to my worries. I worry about my worries, and then I worry that I’m worrying about my worries. I need lots of help, right?
But, if I stay at this, I discover that there really is a peace and well-being that reflects the reality of God’s wholeness and his reliable presence with me, settling and quieting my heart and mind. I am not alone, and the One who is with me is good, caring and capable.
It really is wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of my life. If you’ve been feeling anxious lately, what might be some of the thoughts underneath? What are some of the “What ifs” that rise to the surface?
What is tempting you to worry these days?
What might it look like to pray those worries instead of fretting about them?