"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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."
~Philippians 4: 6-7
How we think is how we feel. It took me a long time to figure that out. We all have that constant internal mental dialogue that runs incessantly in the background. It's so normal and we're so used to it, we don't think about it very much. But we should be thinking about it much more because that dialogue is coming from us, and for many of us it is a constant stream of negative thoughts.
You wake up in the morning: Ugh! Another day!
You hear a funny noise coming from your car: That's going to be $1,000 bucks to fix . . .
It rains during the night: my sump pump will probably quit.
I'm too old and too set in my ways to change now . . .
I'm not talented enough to do this . . .
I'm not smart enough to learn that . . .
That person doesn't like me and is probably up to something to make me look bad . . .
It goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on without end! And we listen to that voice! Have you ever gotten into a mental argument with somebody over a problem that hasn't even happened yet? Like you're rehearsing a fight in advance? I have!
And that noise your car just started making? Have you ever been sitting there trying to figure out who to take it to, and when, and how much it'll cost only to realize the noise is coming from the pick-up truck sitting at the light next to you? I have!
We talk ourselves into an awful lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety, don't we? My chief sources of stress were things I had no control over, had no way to stop, didn't actually exist, or events that never actually happened. Sounds silly, doesn't it? It does, but I know there's a lot of readers out there that know just exactly what I'm talking about. Anxiety and stress is so common that some projections say one in four people suffer symptoms of anxiety.
I've been a worrier my entire life--I come from a long line of worriers and I learned it well. This tendency was actually useful as a manager, because I've always anticipated the worst-case scenario in every situation that comes up and on the rare occasions that the worse-case scenario actually occurred, I was one of the few who was prepared for it.
In my personal life, however, my anxiety became debilitating. And I realized that most of my stress was not coming from external sources, it was coming from internal sources! Me! I was the source of most of my stress! I was allowing myself to speak to me in a way I'd never let anyone else. I worried constantly, and if I didn't have anything to worry about, you can bet I'd find something. I knew I had to change that internal dialogue if I was going to get a handle on the constant anxiety I was feeling.
I looked to the Bible for guidance. When I first looked to the Bible I couldn't believe how many verses I found about anxiety and stress. I'd read many of them before, and totally missed what it was saying to me or how applicable the scriptures were. It's clear that God understands the mind of mankind. And why should that surprise us? God made us this way--in His own likeness. He understands how we work. He understands how we think.
And you know what God tells us to do over and over and over again? Don't worry! Trust in Him! When you can hand your worries over to God, you'll find peace. You'll find quiet. You'll find that even when the worst-case scenario hits, you'll be able to handle it calmly with God's help.
Here's a few things the Bible has to say about this, but there are literally hundreds more if you look:
"Be still, and know that I am God.~Psalm 40:10"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."~John 14:27"Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."~Joshua 1:9Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The LORD works out everything to its proper end."~Proverbs 16:3-4
The key to a calm mind and a fruitful life is trusting in God, and knowing that He has your back. God tells us not to worry, but that's hard to do. It takes faith. And what you'll find in the Bible on this subject couldn't be more relevant today.
Turn your back on that defeating internal dialogue. Give those worries to God, and get on with your life. God knows that most of the things you're worrying about you can't control--only He can. So let Him!
What do you think? Leave a comment! Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!