“You’re a worrier.”
This was the assessment rightfully attributed to me at a young age. It was fitting, as worrying about everything came easy to me. I was even an equal opportunity worrier. There was usually something I perceived as bad I could worry about, but if for some reason there wasn’t, then I would become anxious about when the “other shoe would fall.”
The label felt like a life sentence with well-meaning friends and family occasionally interrupting my anxiety to tell me, “Don’t worry.”
When I experienced some of the serious side effects of severe anxiety, I had to start more closely looking at how I was thinking and implement solutions to break the habit.
If you habitually worry and/or have been anxious for an extended period of time, it just becomes an automatic response without realizing it. So what are some of the attributes of one who is covered in cares and disabling anxiety?
You might be a worrier if….
- …you spend more time mentally ruminating over specific issues than praying about them.
- …you have expended an inordinate amount of mental energy to determine exactly what you believe God needs to do to rectify the situation and restore order to your world when you come to God in prayer. (Martha went to Jesus not for His solutions but for Him to force Mary’s actions into Martha’s decided plan. Luke 10:40)
- …your continual focus is mostly on the physical needs of the day and not the spiritual.
- …you spend more time thinking of the past or the future than living in today.
- …you create mental scenarios of yourself dealing with situations as “insurance” or “preparation”
- in case it ever happens to you.
- …you agonize over the small details of the day and play them over and over again in your mind.
Not only do the Scriptures give the prohibition to worry (Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 6:25-34), but also clue us in on the reasons why worry is so detrimental.
- It distracts us. Luke 21:34 cautioned watchfulness of our hearts so that they not “be weighed down with…cares of this life” because they keep our minds from seeking first the Kingdom (Matthew 6:33).
- It draws us away from Christ. Martha’s excessive concerns in Luke 10:41 (NKJV) pulled her away from enjoying “that good part” of being with Jesus.
- It deceives us into believing that we are in control (Luke 12:25-27).
- It damages our trust in God. In holding onto our cares and not leaving them with the Lord (I Peter 5:7) we are essentially indicating to God we don’t trust His love and care for us.
- It deters fruitfulness. In the parable of the sower, the thorns were not only the “deceitfulness of riches” but “the cares of the world” that impeded growth (Matthew 13:22).
- It can result in depression. “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression…”(Proverbs 12:25).
So how can we break this terrible habit? Begin by analyzing your thoughts. How much time are you constantly ruminating over something? Write it down. Ask yourself, “Am I trying to find a solution to something in which I have no control regarding the outcome?” List the all the cares on a sheet of paper. Separate them into two categories, those which you can influence and those in which you have no control.
For those in which you have some influence, begin praying for wisdom to form a plan of action. Give yourself a specific amount of time in the day to think and act on it. All other times it may come to mind redirect your thinking by the reading of the verses and directives listed here.
For those in which you have no opportunity to effect change, begin praying for awareness to identify them when they come to mind so that you can take captive those thoughts to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). When they come to mind use the verses below to create a blockade and refocus your thoughts.
Inundate your mind with Scriptures that help tear down the stronghold of worry (II Corinthians 10:4). People are creatures of habit. The mind will think on something. Make the habit one of thinking on those things which put confidence in God. Print out these verses with directives reading them three times each, three times a day. It can take some time and effort to change a habit, but it is well worth it. Here are some that were a help to me (click for printable version: May Divine percolations printable).
Psalm 94:19 (ESV)
“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul”
No matter what trials or problems swirl around me, I am continually reminded of the goodness of God. It brings a smile to my face and praise to my lips.
Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
I have peace of mind and am comforted knowing God will provide all those things I need to serve Him faithfully.
Proverbs 12:25 (NKJV)
“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.”
Because I am filling my mind with the best words—God’s words—my heart rejoices.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Instead of needless fretting, I constantly bring God my concerns with gracious appreciation for His love and constant care. In so doing I have peace which protects my soul regardless of the outcome of my requests.
Matthew 6:34 (NKJV)
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it’s own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Always seeking God’s will be done, I do not have anxiety about the future days. I will meet them with courage and strength from the Lord.
1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV)
“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
I am filled with joy because I bring all my troubles to my Heavenly Father who loves me. I need not lose heart or despair knowing His love for my soul.
Luke 12:25-27 (NKJV)
“And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Since worrying effects no change, I wholeheartedly put all my confidence in God’s amazing power, wonderful grace and mercy to see me through each and every day. This brings about tranquility to my mind and body.
By Cheri Deaver
Cheri is wife to Weylan Deaver who preaches at the Sherman Drive Church of Christ in Denton, Texas. She is mother to Orrin, Lacey, Lexie and Ethan, as well as a new mother-in-law to Aubrie Deaver. She is blessed beyond measure for which God has so richly provided.