Bright yellow flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Fight worry and anxiety by making a choice


Why is it so hard to let go of things you can’t control? Where does the desire to control everything come from anyway? Is it pride?

I couldn’t tell you. What I know for sure is that me trying to control everything is a bad idea for a lot of different reasons. To really be able to control everything, I’d need to know everything. I’d need to be everywhere at once. I’d need to be able to do several things at once. And I obviously can’t do either of those things, and that’s just the start.

I know I can’t do any of that. So why—why?—do I still keep trying to take over things? And why do I insist on worrying about stuff anyway? Why do I let my stomach knot up and my shoulders go tight? I don’t believe that worrying about things actually changes anything. So why do I do it?

Today’s verse is Philippians 4:6.

Bright yellow flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Bright yellow flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Worry is one of the greatest deceivers in our lives. It masquerades as something useful, when it’s actually useless. It wears a mask to disguise itself as “something you can do” when more often than not worrying prevents you from actually doing anything at all.

Worry is the great time waster, the greatest distraction you’ll face in your everyday life. At least, that’s what I’ve discovered. I can be having a perfectly fine day until something crops up that I feel the need to worry about. Then good luck getting me focused again. If I’m worrying about something, I’ll run myself into the ground pacing. I’ll turn my own hair gray stressing, if I don’t pull it out by its roots.

So what do you do when you feel the need to worry? Is there some magic word you can say that makes the desire disappear? Is there something you can do that relieves you of the burning need to fuss and fret and pick yourself or others apart?

If there is, I haven’t found it.

The truth about worry is that it’s a choice. You make the choice to worry or not to worry. You choose to spend your time that way or not. Nobody comes up to you and forces you to worry about something, but our enemy is really good at whispering all the things that we should worry about in our ears.

Our enemy knows what we’re afraid of. He knows how to scare us. He knows how to unsettle us and distract us, and worry is one of the best tools to accomplish all of that. The best course of action when he starts whispering his lies is to recognize them for what they are. Lies. All lies. All of them.

And once you recognize them, take steps to neutralize them. Have someone you can talk to who will encourage you and remind you that our enemy is a liar. Have evidence for yourself to prove that you’re not a failure, that you aren’t generally disliked, that you’ve actually managed to accomplish something with your life.

You have the choice. You can either sit still and let worry turn you inside out. Or you can take steps to remind yourself that worrying doesn’t accomplish anything.

Will that make the worry go away? I wish I could tell you it did, but in my experience even recognizing that worrying is foolish doesn’t make it disappear. What it does accomplish, though, is that it keeps you from making spontaneous, foolish decisions while you’re emotionally distraught.

God says don’t worry. So don’t. When you feel yourself starting down that path, stop. Identify what it is that you’re worried about and give it to God. Tell Him you’re giving it to Him, and you’re not going to worry about it anymore. And ask Him—seriously—to help you remember that. So when you try to take it back, He’ll thump you on the nose.

He’ll do it. Figuratively, of course. But He will.

He’s got everything under control, and He CAN be everywhere and do everything and know everything all at once. So there’s no one better to control everything than God. And even if it doesn’t feel okay right now, trust me, He’s working it out. And eventually it will be okay.


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Moon in the morning sky over the orchard at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Don’t worry; be happy

Life is full of anxieties. It doesn’t matter where you work or where you live or how much money you have. Anxiety is something you can’t get away from, and the only way to handle it is to deal with it.

You can try to ignore it, but if you just set it aside without actually dealing with the root of the problem, your anxieties and your worries will continue to scream at an ever-worsening pitch until you can’t focus on anything else.

So how do you deal with worry and anxiety? What do you do? Is there a twelve-step program? Is there a magic pill you can take? Hardly. But there is a book to read that has some insight on how to deal with worrying.

Moon in the morning sky over the orchard at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Moon in the morning sky over the orchard at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Philippians 4:6-7.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I know. Not the thing you probably want to read. I know it’s not what I want to hear either because it’s one of those answers that’s simple and complex at the same time.

Don’t worry about anything? Is Paul serious?

Well, yes. He’s absolutely serious. And if we compare our lives to his, I’d bet that he had more right to worry than we do.

Worrying is a choice. It’s just like anything else we choose to think about, and we don’t have to let our minds do whatever they want.

Paul is saying here that we need to choose not to worry.  Just don’t do it. At all. About anything. And maybe that sounds impossible, maybe that sounds harsh, maybe it sounds unreasonable–because after all, some worrying is good, isn’t it?

Personally, I don’t think so. Because concern only goes so far before it turns into worry, and worry is a major distraction in our lives.

We can choose not to worry. So choose not to worry today. Whatever is happening in your life, whatever is going right, whatever is going wrong, choose not to worry. Instead of looking at everything that is going wrong or that could go wrong or that went wrong, think about what God did to bring you there to begin with.

Talk to God about it. Tell Him what your problems are. Trust Him to work them out. No, you may not see results immediately, but if you trust Him, you’ll see something, whether it’s through another person or through an event or through reading Scripture.

Worry drags us down. It turns us into people who aren’t much fun to be around. And it’s absolutely the easiest sin to fall into because it seems harmless. I mean, how is my worrying going to hurt someone else?

Well, it doesn’t start off hurting others. It starts off by hurting you. If all your energy is focused on worrying, you will begin to see the damage in physical ways. It will damage you physically. It will damage you emotionally. And it will damage you spiritually because when you get right down to it, worry is telling God He doesn’t know what He’s doing. It’s a lack of trust in what God has promised, and that will hurt your relationship with Him.

And then, as it progresses, worry will eventually begin to damage your earthly friendships as well. It will raise a barrier between you and people who love you.

Worry is an insidious sin, stealthy and nagging. Even when you think you’ve mastered it, worry will continue to creep up behind you and whisper in your ears. But worry can be forced away.

Maybe it’s denial, but worry is something you can’t just ignore. You have to set it aside. You have to forcibly remove it and set it on the top shelf where it will gather dust until God provides a way to take care of it. But you have to let go of it. You have to put it away.

That part is difficult for me, because worrying is somewhat comforting in a sadistic way.

But as long as you hold on to worry and anxiety, you won’t know peace. And if you don’t know peace, you’re not going to be happy. So today, whatever you’re worrying about, put it down. Stop focusing on it. Change your mind about it and focus on what God is doing that you can see and feel.

Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing, and He has promised to take care of it all.

As I was writing this post today, I had a song stuck in my head, and it made me smile. So I thought I would share.