Blooming iris at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Tomorrow will come whether you worry about it or not

Does our worrying matter to God? I think it does. When we worry we pretty much tell God that He doesn’t know what He’s doing, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be guilty of that.

I wouldn’t call myself a worrier. I’m usually too busy to spend any time worrying about things, but sometimes anxieties creep up on me silently and spring a trap when I’m not paying attention. And before I know what I’m doing, I’m stressing out about things I can’t control.

We all know that worrying is a choice, but sometimes I think we make that choice without thinking about it. And I don’t know why worrying makes us feel like we have some semblance of control over life, because worrying stems from the fact that we have no control.

Blooming iris at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Blooming iris at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Matthew 6:34.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

It’s easy to worry about tomorrow. It’s easy to worry about the things we don’t understand. It’s easy to worry about the parts of life that we don’t get to change. But worrying doesn’t accomplish anything. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say that. Worry only accomplishes turning you into someone you’re not.

It’s like anger. Just like anger turns you into a different person, so does worry. And both worry and anger will ruin relationships and damage opportunities.

So how do you live without worry? How do you make that choice to not stress about tomorrow when tomorrow is all you can think about? Is there a magic word? Is there a key? Is there a book to read or a program to follow?

What’s nice about this verse is that it comes on the heels of a larger passage dedicated to telling people why they shouldn’t worry.

Matthew 6:25-33

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Here’s the thing about worry. For me, worry comes from the fact that I like to be in control of my life. I like to make decisions. I like to be independent and self-sufficient. But my life is too much for me to handle alone. There are some things I can’t accomplish on my own. There are parts of my life where I need help, and it’s those parts of my life where I need help that I worry about because I can’t do it myself. I have to rely on someone else to help me.

And I’m not good at relying on people to help me. I worry. I worry that I haven’t explained a situation well enough. I worry that I haven’t provided the necessary instruction or tools. I worry that I left something out. I worry that the whole thing is going to go down the drain and it will have been my fault because I didn’t plan well enough.

But here’s the deal: What’s going to happen will happen whether I worry about it or not.

Surprising? No, probably not, but true. Just because we sit around and worry about an upcoming event doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Conversely, just because we sit around and worry about something that might happen doesn’t mean it will happen. That’s tomorrow. And worrying about it doesn’t do you or the people around you any good.

In those instances where you have to rely on God for things you can’t control, you just have to trust Him. Like the verses say above, He already knows what we need. And He’ll give us what we need to make it through. Either way, worrying about just makes you unpleasant.

So if you’re worrying about something today, stop. I mean, don’t ignore the problem. Recognize it. Prepare for it as best you can. But then let it go because worrying about it will only hurt you. God has it under control and He’s going to work everything out. It may not work out today. It may not work out tomorrow. It may not work out in a month or a year. But you can believe that it will work out because that’s the way God is. Whatever is happening in our lives has a purpose, and He will use it for our good and His glory.

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.

Steps in the jungle at Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Don’t be afraid to change your plans

I had a plan when I was a senior in high school. I would graduate from Pensacola Christian College in four years with a degree in commercial writing, but I probably wouldn’t get a full-time job after graduation because I was probably going to get married and start a family. Well, my plan didn’t work.

I made it a year at Pensacola Christian College and came home (thank God) and finished my writing degree at Wichita State University instead. And I’ve been working full time since 2005 (sign language interpreter, librarian, writer) and I still haven’t even been on a date, which is normally a prerequisite when you intend to get married. None of these things were in my plan, but looking back now, I wouldn’t change any of it.

Steps in the jungle at Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Steps in the jungle at Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verse is Proverbs 19:21.

You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

People get attached to the plans they’ve made. I’m not really sure why, but it happens to me too. When I was young I used to get so upset when our plans would change at the last minute. Maybe it’s because I’m a creature of habit. I don’t know.

But what I’ve learned over the years is that even though you make plans, you can’t be afraid to change them. Why? Well, God has a better plan than you do. And even if your plan is good, His is best. He won’t force you to change your plans, but you’ll sure be better off if you do.

I could have forced my plan. I could have gone back to PCC for the rest of my education. I didn’t have to leave. No one forced me to leave. (Oh, but I’m glad I did.) I didn’t have to go to WSU. I could have opted for an associate degree at a junior college and lived at home. And that way maybe I could have pursued a relationship. I could be married now. Most of my friends my age are married. Most of my friends younger than me are married. And many of them have kids–more than one kid. Some have armies.

But when I consider all that God has given me because I changed my plans to suit His, I wouldn’t go back for anything. I had many plans for my life, but God had a purpose for me that I didn’t know about. And if I had pushed my own plans, it would have been a lot more difficult to reach the purpose God had in store.

So what’s the point of getting upset when we change our plans? Why are we afraid of it? Most of the time, if you’re changing your plan for a reason God has indicated, the new plan will be better than the old one in the end anyway.

I think the fear comes from the unknown. Once you sit down and plan something, you have the illusion that you’re in control of your plans, but that’s not true. Even if you push your own plan, you’re not in control of it. Life can still spiral out of control at a moment’s notice whether you’re following your plan or God’s plan. The upside of following God’s plan when everything falls apart is that you can trust all the bad stuff is part of the plan. If you’re following your plan and everything falls apart, you won’t know what to do and you aren’t big enough to fix it.

Being steady and consistent are important. If you promise to do something, you ought to do it. I’m not saying that if you’ve planned to do something you should back out of it because it pushes you out of your comfort zone. That’s not the point at all.

But if you’ve planned to do something and God obviously shows you that He wants you to do something else? Don’t dawdle. Change your plans to suit His. And don’t be afraid of it.

Him asking you to change your plans could be for a reason as simple as avoiding an unforeseen catastrophe on the road you were driving on. Or it could mean you end up the president of a company instead of peon in a cubicle. Whatever plans He asks you to change, you just have to trust that He knows better and that His plans are better. After all, He can see the big picture, when we’re stuck with just a few pixels.