One email. That was all it took. We weren’t expecting it for another month. We were gitty over Christmas, two days away. The in-laws were coming in town. We were smoking a duck. Wow, that was unexpected. He asked if we could smoke some “game” for Christmas this year. I happened to spot the duck in the freezer section and took that baby home.
Back to that email. I’m a military spouse so there is little that surprises me anymore. This email rocked me though. I think it was because it was the first time in my life that something happened the way God told me it would. I take that back. Sort of. Everything happens according to God’s plan, but this time I heard him. Not audibly, but in my heart I knew we’d go.
Ship out in 2 months they said! Two months?! We thought we had 5 or 6..or more. That one email, with two months was all it took. I felt my body clench and my brain, oh that thing, it took off into a gazillion directions. What about my job? Will we drive cross country? The dog, oh he’ll be miserable in snow. Man, I’m going to miss my friends. Sushi, we have to get some now and every other day for 2 months!
The change, the uncertainty, the unknown. Anxiety had found its way into my heart.
In what areas of your life is anxiety holding you captive and robbing you of your peace?
How to Remove Anxiety from Your Heart
Just stop. Take a breath. No, really. Right now, do it. If you have to tell your brain 27 times in the next 12 seconds to turn off, do it. Take some time, even 10 minutes, okay 5 if that’s all you’ve got. And sit in silence, listening to yourself breathe. If you have to do this locked in your car away from the kids, do it. Tell your brain to stop as many times it starts.
Do you think this futile? Maybe so, maybe it is. You have a thousand things that need to be done right now, the last thing you can do is nothing. Wait, right now, those things need to be done right now? They really don’t. Unless your kid is bleeding from his abdomen, 5 minutes won’t hurt anything. Force your brain to stop and heart to slow.
Maybe it’s cheesy, but I think you need a journal. Even if you only write in it 3 times a year. It will be there when you need it. Everything around us tells us to “live in the here and now“, “progress, advancement“. Sometimes I actually do feel bad that I make meals at home. Why? Not because my friends make rude comments, but they make comments. Like, “Wow, that’s homemade?!” How old-fashioned of me, right?
I’m not telling you to dwell on the past and the things you can’t change. Especially for those of us who are Followers of Christ because we were made new when we accepted him into our heart. In God’s eyes, he sees the image of Christ when he looks at us. No, don’t dwell. Rejoice. Rejoice on all the great things that’ve happened to you in the last week. The last month. Year. Write them down.
Your heart will inevitably swell. By filling your heart with things that are worthy of singing, we can begin to push out all the rest. All that muck. It’s gross that stuff. It changes your heart and your mind and then the you that’s so great isn’t around as much. Until she’s gone and we’re left with anxiety and bitterness. That’s not you.
Can we be real for a second? In all the things that you’re going through right now, all the things that are keeping you up at night, how many of those things can you change? Maybe a few. With time and effort, maybe a lot of effort, a few more. More effort than what you’re willing or capable of? Go ahead, do what you can for the things in your life that you can help, but in the meantime and for the rest, pray.
As Sons and Daughters of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have the ability to approach him boldly. Boldly! Tell him what’s bringing you down. Ask for his strength to get through it. Ask him if he’ll take it off your shoulders. Let it out, when nobody else will get it, He absolutely will.
Daily pray. Pray for understanding about the situation. Pray for wisdom to change what you can and peace over what you can’t. Prayer, my dears, is something you can always do without judgment from others, in private or aloud and God will answer. He’ll answer alright. You may not like the answer, but he’ll answer.
Cling to Him.
Would you consider peace the opposite of anxiety? Google does, and they also say that bold and courageous and assured are battling anxiety. When you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. I’m challenging you to say yes to God and no to the world in regards to your anxiety. Why? Because someone on every corner is offering you peace. This drug. That drink. A nap. Yeah, let’s just sleep it off. Money. A boyfriend. Oh, how the things of this world would love to bring you peace.
And maybe they do. For a little while.
What happens to these things when doubt creeps in? Or fear? You face a difficulty and all the sudden those feelings of euphoria get washed down the drain. Only God can provide the kind of peace you need. His peace is spiritual peace and once you’re clothed in it, all those anxieties and uncertainties, they begin to bounce off you. Yeah, real peace is like a rubber suit.
When we cling to God’s truth found in the Bible, we see time and again that he’s waiting to give us this peace. All throughout Psalms you see the psalmist referring to distress, being upset, times of trouble, seeking refuge. These Bible authors are crying out to God over these things, you can too! Send your SOS up to God and seek refuge in his comforting arms.
Ask for Help.
My goodness, all the times I’ve heard “let me know how I can help“. I take that back. All the times I’ve said it! How few times someone has called my spade a spade on this one. We mean well, we mean it. We do want to help. Let’s role reversal this scenario for half a second. How many times have you taken someone up on this offer? Never? Maybe once?
After asking God to help, the next best thing in times of uncertainty is help from others. Maybe you could just use prayer. Get your phone, not this second unless it’s sitting right next you…. or you’re on it. Create a contact group of “Prayer Warriors” and start putting people in it. Maybe let them know your plans, so they aren’t all the sudden bombarded with 13 prayer requests before The Today Show is over. Go ahead. Ask for prayer.
Take them up on their offers. If someone offered to help you one time, maybe it was 7 months ago when you were painting your bathroom. Either way, if someone offered their help on something, let them offer it. They want to. They may so no. So ask someone else.
Uhhh *eye roll*, can I just say right now how I can’t stand when people talk about the crappy weather?? Get it? Even though I didn’t specify anyone and the complaint was over something really silly, like the weather, that was a complaint.
Seriously though. When we have a complaining tongue, we have a complaining heart. Telling you not to complain sounds simple, but really it’s a heart issue. Which is why the next tip is to Seek Contentment. Before moving on though, have a strategy to kick those complaints to the curb. Maybe you wear a bracelet and every time you complain you switch wrists. Putting your coffee down to take that bracelet off is going to get old reeaaal quick. Maybe you pinch yourself. Maybe you write it down. Do something to make yourself aware of just how often you’re complaining. You may be surprised with how often something nasty comes from your mouth.
You’re up against the world on this one, literally. How am I supposed to be content with my iPhone 4 when the 5 came out, like, 8 months ago? How am I supposed to find happiness in my poochie when Amy down the street has 3 beautiful kids. Intentionally, in the case of society making us feel like we’re never enough, or unintentionally, in the case of Amy’s screamin’ kids, we are literally surrounded with things and people making us feel like we aren’t enough.
How do we handle all this pressure? Don’t give in. That’s right, the first time you feel the urge to go get that phone, no matter how you’ve justified it in your head, don’t do it. Not happy with the coffee at work and want your Starbucks? Resist. This sounds simple, too simple.
But finding contentment in your life is a process. You won’t wake up tomorrow covered in contentment as if it had seeped right out of your Egyptian cotton sheets. You seek contentment slowly, starting with small, seemingly meaningless things that you deny yourself of. Like coffee. Okay, bad example, coffee has gobs of meaning.
Need some Bible to motivate? Try Luke 3:14 and Hebrews 13:5. Oh, and Phillipians 4:11-12.
Here’s the dealio, whether you’re a Follower of Christ or not your life is going to suck sometimes. There I said it. Quit lying to yourself and letting the lies of others seep into your heart as truth. That stuff is not going to make your life better. It’s garbage. Maybe not today, but if you died tomorrow your loved ones are not going to want all of your dusty old ceramic figurines.
Life is messy, it’s hard, you will come face to face with situations that you simply cannot handle (See Above: Cling to God). His peace that penetrates all doubt and worry is a gift and it’s peace that covers all things, it’s from above.
When life gets to be too much, take a breath (remember this one?), step back, and try to understand that God is bringing you through this to refine you. You need sharpening, and God unlike this world realizes that in order to be better, in order to grow, to flourish, you must tread through the mud sometimes. Trust me, I’ve got mud on my boots and when you’re in the mud trying to understand this truth it’s not easy. Nor is it fun.
God brought you to this situation so HE could take you through this situation. Find peace in that. You are not struggling or questioning for nothing. You will be stronger, wiser, better, happier on the other side of this long, dark tunnel. Find peace in that and keep treading, warrior.
Invite peace into your heart by deepening your relationship with Christ. He’s waiting for you.