I have recently been working hard on this area of me and am finding that the Lord is really showing me a lot these days. He is pressing me and though it is mighty uncomfortable, I am seeing progress.
I am coming to believe that being a worrier, is much like being an addict to anything else, be it food, drugs, alcohol, whatever. I mean, each of those things are what we turn to when life gets tough and we just need some way to cope. For me I have always worried myself into a "tizzy". I know it doesn't make anything better...not a bit, much like a beer doesn't make the situation better or eating a dozen Krispy Kremes don't make the situation better. (oh and believe me I have tried those too)
In my life pretty much for as long as I can remember I have felt a void. An emptiness in my life and I have chosen many ways of trying to fill that void only to find that nothing really works. Sure the beer or wine might relax you temporarily, and the donuts might increase endorphins temporarily and they DO taste good, yet you just wake up the next day with the same old problems and a few extra pounds or a headache.
I am learning that the only way to break an addiction is to replace that habit with a new one. So one of my recent quests is to STOP the emotional eating. I do it A LOT. I feel good, I eat, I feel sad, I eat, I am bored, I eat. Really, I do love me some food, and while I don't think there is anything wrong with enjoying a good donut or Blizzard from time to time it should not be in an effort to fill that void. I have been replacing my poor eating habits with exercise. When I am feeling upset, bored, even happy, I am trying to just do something physical, and I have to say it feels great.
Tonight as I was spending a little time with the Lord it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, worry is much the same. I mean can I just tell you how many times someone says to me "just don't worry about it, it won't make it better" or they LOVE to quote Philippians 4:6, which, I'll be honest makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs. I mean it is easy to say "Don't be anxious about anything" when you are not the one enduring the trial. Lately I feel like my trials are non stop. So tonight I went to Philippians. And as I examined that verse here is what I saw
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
I find it no coincidence that then tonight as Howard and I spent a little time in the Word and listening to a sermon by Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church, he preached from this VERY verse. I got chills. Literally. I mean God was speaking and he HAD my attention.
Now first I must say that I LOVE LOVE LOVE Andy Stanley and quite often his messages reach me on a level that really challenges me and if you have the opportunity and are struggling with worry at all I suggest you to go to that site and listen to the current series, particularly "Pray until the Peace Comes".
Yes folks...that is it right there...we must pray until the peace comes. Well meaning people quote Philippians but often stop after the Do not be anxious part. It is the rest of that sentence that gives us instructions on how God would have us live. Paul nailed it right there in that verse and finally after years of having that verse thrown at me something clicked when Andy Stanley explained it tonight.
But in EVERYTHING by PRAYER and PETITION, WITH THANKSGIVING, PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS TO THE LORD.
Now if you have been reading for long you also know I struggle with prayer. I often find myself asking, what the heck is the blasted point? I mean He is gonna do what He is gonna do and I just have to accept it so what the heck to I pray for? This message tonight light a light bulb in me that had been dark for quite sometime.
How should we deal with our anxieties? By prayer, well duh! I mean I am doing that... dear God we don't have enough money...please give us more money. Seems silly writing it, but come on, if we are honest many times that is what our prayer looks like. The thing is this verse doesn't simply say when you are anxious, pray...it goes on though, being more specific. The word PRESENT literally means reveal. We are to pray and REVEAL to God our deeper needs that are fueling our prayers.
You might say, "Well if God is all knowing, then He already knows our deeper needs."
And you would be right...BUT I wonder if you do? I mean, I know I had never thought of it like this before. When we go to God with our prayers, do we REALLY think about what is fueling our prayers? Do we simply just put our requests out there and expect God to act or do we go deeper?
I know for me, I seldom if ever go deeper. Andy Stanley suggests praying like this: "Dear Heavenly Father, I need _________. If you don't I am afraid __________." That is it right there. Our underlying fear. I can tell you as I prayed last night for a current situation in my own life that I have been very anxious about, my eyes were opened to my true motives. I was able to see what was fueling my anxiety, and bottom line it is fear. Fear of change, fear of being looked at a certain way, fear of losing things I hold dear.
After looking at my motives I was able to gain a little perspective and see that EVEN IF God does not come through the way I am hoping He does, that my motives sometimes tend to be selfish and not so in line with His. I have said it before and I will say it again, God is NOT concerned with my comfort. Comfort often leads to complacency.
So tonight I am digging up the deep, not so pretty, mucky stuff I don't like to think about or present before others, the selfishness, the bitterness, the pridefulness, the feelings of injustice and I am presenting them before the Lord. I know he already knows my heart, but quite honestly I am not so sure I do.
So like any addict, I am striving to replace my anxiety behaviors with prayer and petition, going deeper to dig up that ugly stuff and present it to the Lord. I am just going to keep doing it until the peace comes, and His word says it will, so I have to believe it! And when the peace comes, my heart and mind will be guarded from this anxiety. That my friends is a cure for worry!
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."