Worrying the Days Away Day 5: Overcome
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(Psalm 51:15-17, ESV)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1, ESV)
Now comes the hard part. All week we’ve been discussing the difficulties surrounding worry and the different aspects of life that can create it, but now it’s time to take action. I’d love to tell you that overcoming worry is simple, but it’s not. Defeating our worries and anxieties takes a tremendous amount of effort. It requires intentional thinking, humility, and perseverance. Thankfully, we are not left alone to fight the battle. God will help us fight and win the war against our fears.
First, we must acknowledge our worries. To win a battle, you must know your enemy. Take account of all the things that are causing you stress or filling your mind with fear and doubt. Acknowledge that these are the things that are weighing down your mind, heart, and soul. With these things in mind, think intentionally. That may sound difficult, but with practice you can be quite aware of your thoughts. One of my favorite things I’ve learned in therapy is intentional thinking. Whenever I have panic attacks, it feels like I can’t form a thought because everything in my brain is swarming and I can’t pick out a single thing to focus on. To prevent these panic attacks from happening, I keep my mind in check. Whenever I begin to feel stressed or overwhelmed, I take a moment to pause and check in with the thoughts that are beginning to swarm. I make note that I’m feeling anxious because I have a big deadline approaching and I am nervous about my work not being good enough. I take that thought and weigh it against the truth. Am I worried because my work isn’t good or because I am simply afraid of failing? The latter is most often true, and once I’ve accepted this, I can let go of the thought and move on. It may sound silly, but taking every thought captive is not only helpful, but biblical!
Second, we must accept that we are not in control. As we discussed in day two, we have to resolve our control issues. When you see your to-do list, and physical or mental stress begins to pile up, take a moment to give it a reality check. If you find yourself obsessing about the way a friend may have perceived a specific text you sent, let it go. You are not in control of other people. You are not in control of the world around you. God is in control and He has a plan for good and not evil. Trust that He is working, and when something is out of your control, take it to Him and leave it at His feet. He can and He will resolve the issue.
Finally, we must release our worries to Him. The worst thing we can do with our worries is hold on to them. The more they accumulate, the more we are weighed down and the less effectively we can accomplish the tasks at hand. We have to let things go. When an issue arises, we must take it to God first. When we bring our worries to Him, we must leave them there. If this is difficult to do, and it probably will be speaking from experience, be accountable with a friend. Keep track of your anxieties and have an open communication with a trusted friend who can step in and remind you that you’ve given them to God and to leave them there. The wonderful thing is that when we do leave things in His hand, we know that we can trust Him and that He has a great plan for us.
My challenge to you today is to find the best way for you to overcome your worries. We are all built differently, so some efforts that may work for you may be a total bust for others. The best way to learn is to give them a try. Try maintaining a worry journal for a week. Track every time you worry about something, note what it was, and make a conscious effort to give it to God each time. Maybe you’d rather take a more meditative approach. Whenever you have a time of prayer, recognize your worries and intentionally bring them to God. However you decide to overcome your worries, remember that the end goal is to give it all to God. Acknowledge, accept, release—and repeat until it becomes a habit.