Hello, dears. Several months ago I wrote about some of the trials that I was going through. During that time I devoted a lot of mental space to worry. So much so that eventually, my whole being was wrapped in nothing but stress. I wanted out. I so desperately needed peace. And then the blissful time of Christmas came. All my fears concerning my relationship with my sister and her husband Gabriel were laid to rest.
I learned a valuable lesson during that time–my overactive, loud fears were godless. In His providential care, the Lord showed me that I needed to stop listening to my fears and trust in Him. But this wasn’t all that He was going to show me.
I found peace, yes, but that peace came and went, almost like the holiday itself. Literally, for several weeks after Christmas, I stayed on a rollercoaster of fear. It was awful! The worst part was, I just couldn’t seem to get off. I was battling all day, and even into the night with my fears. What happened? Here is what happened. Between Brigid’s wedding and Christmas, I spent so much time in worry and doubt concerning God’s providence in my life that one little moment of peace wasn’t going to fix anything. In a perfect world, maybe.
I thought perhaps more prayer would help but even in prayer my fears would impede and distract me. It was very discouraging. Nothing would ease the burden, or relieve me, and I didn’t understand what I was missing. You can imagine that these thoughts alone only added to my misery. But God does listen to our prayers, even though they are fraught with distractions and little voices inside our head. He hears our spirits groaning and knows what we need. And He did answer my prayers.
He gave me the answer during a rare moment of peaceful prayer–”Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) If I wanted to receive peace, I needed to get a hold of myself and be quiet.
Learning how to be quiet in my heart and mind has been difficult to master. It goes without saying that when a person is used to doing something over and over again, undoing the habit will be a long, hard process. Add on the simple fact that I am a woman, and you just made that process even more difficult. It’s easy to worry! A woman doesn’t have to look further than her own self to find a plethora of worry-perfect material. Charlotte wrote in her post that our own appearances can cause us to become discontent and envious, both of which breed anxiety. Despite all this, I knew that if God was going to remain the focal point of my life, He would help me by His grace to work through it, no matter the difficulty.
Along the way, I have been faced with temptations. And I’ll be honest, I have given in to those temptations from time to time. But then God in His grace sends His Spirit to put up a stop sign. I then have to make the choice, Enough. or Keep going, because maybe there is a reason I need to keep worrying about this thing. That, of course, is the wrong answer. When I keep going, I unknowingly crank up the volume of my clamoring fears, drowning out the effectual voice of the Holy Spirit.
So He puts up another stop sign, this time it’s a family member. They ask if anything is wrong. They’ve observed that something seems a little off about me. I’m just a bit on the edgy side. Enough, or keep going? At this point, I stop, turn down the volume of my fears/worries until there is nothing but peace and quiet.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy (discontentment or longing) rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)
God not only gives us stop signs from our families, he also gives them to us through physical discomfort. For example, my shoulder cramps up whenever I am stressed/worried. I also get heartburn, which ironically shows up during my favorite de-stressing activity–walking! Usually, that means that things are really bad. I experienced a lot of days in which shoulder and heartburn both flared up at the same time. It felt like I was falling apart! Those two combined really bring down my energy level, and I literally have to slow down in what I’m doing. Ironic isn’t it? It’s as though God is forcing me to stop and be quiet.
I’ve learned that when I worry, my body goes into a slight panic mode, and every action I make is usually done to save my own backside. Because I am not obeying God, nor am I listening to Him. Thus, my motives are selfish and my actions are hurtful. I stop loving and sacrificing when I become concerned about myself, two very important things that the Lord requires us to do in our day to day lives.
No matter what it is, when we listen to clamoring fear, we lose sight of God because we are so full of ourselves. We need to stop and be quiet so we can listen to God and remember His promises.
“Stand in awe, and sin not: commune within your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4)
How do you cope with worry?
What has God taught you about worry/fear?
Blessings in Christ,
Jessica, the Eldest Sister