Castle turret at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Peace like a security system

Real peace is elusive in our world, whether you’re talking about the peace between nations or people or peace of mind. People pay extravagant sums of money for peace of mind, so they don’t have to worry. But is real peace something you can buy? Or is it something you’re given?

My brain is in overdrive this morning. I’m not quite sure what’s going on, but it’s jumping from topic to topic to topic in rapid sequence, which makes it really difficult to concentrate on anything. It may be because of all the exciting things I learned at the writing workshop this week. It may be because I’m leaving for England next Thursday to see the other side of my brain for the first time since January. But either way, I’m having trouble focusing this morning, so I thought I’d better stick to something simple.

Castle turret at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Castle turret at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

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.

Have you ever experienced peace that functions as a guard? The Amplified Bible uses the term garrison. Peace that guards your heart and mind. To a natural worrier like me, that sounds awfully nice. I have a vivid imagination, and I can just see worries creeping up my heart and mind like thieves or robbers. And peace, like a guard or a soldier, beats them back and tells them to hit the road.

How do you get that kind of peace? You pray about what’s bothering you. You tell God what you need and thank Him what He’s already done. That’s what it says above. But does that really work?

Well, you do have to believe. And you do have to choose to give your worries to God and choose to not take them back once you’ve let them go.

Worry is like having a guard available and choosing to guard the door yourself anyway. It’s like having a security system installed and sitting up all night in spite of it because you’re sure it’s not going to work.

Worry is a waste of time and energy and focus, and it’s something I fall prey to frequently. I try not to. I know better. But I have this propensity to take things back that I’ve already given over to God. Does that make any difference? Does that help my request get answered sooner? Absolutely not. It doesn’t change God’s opinion or His methods or His plan. It just changes the color of my hair and upsets my stomach.

So how do you choose not to worry? How do you let peace be the guard of your mind and heart? Well, to be very honest, I don’t know. I’m still working on that one, but since the Bible says this is how it works, I believe it. So it all comes down to trust.

I trust that God is going to answer my requests in the way that will bring Him glory, whatever that looks like, and I’m up for whatever He has in mind. I trust that God knows what He’s doing. The only thing I can figure out about myself is that I just need to be vigilant when it comes to my control freak tendencies. I need to pay attention when I try to take back the concerns I’ve given to Him, and I need to stop myself.

So what are you worrying about today? Everyone worries. But we don’t have to. If you’re a follower of Christ, you can pray about it instead of worrying, and God has promised to send His peace–peace so awesome we don’t understand it, peace strong enough to protect our heart and our mind from worry. But that protection won’t do us any good if we refuse to be protected.

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.

Control Freak

Life is stressful. And no matter how I try, I always end up stressed out about something. I’m better than I used to be, but somehow all the stuff that makes life so crazy just keeps stacking up until I’m buried in a pile too big to climb out of.

I’m not a tightly wound person either. I’m not inclined to anxiety. But somedays anxiety seems inevitable.

Responsibilities. Duties. Family. Friends. Work. Hobbies that become work. House stuff. Car stuff. Bills. Paychecks. Paychecks in comparison to bills. The rising cost of gasoline. The rising cost of everything. If they were just individual concerns, they’d be easier to deal with. But they never come individually. They always come together, all seemingly united in the singular purpose of driving me out of my mind.

But when you get right down to it, being stressed out about anything is really a choice. It doesn’t always feel like a choice, but it is. This is something I really struggle with, especially lately.

When I run into a situation that I can’t control, my automatic reaction is to get stressed about it. I worry about it. I think about it all the time. And even though I can’t do a single thing to change it, I lay awake at night, staring at my ceiling and wondering what other ways I could solve it.  I guess in itself that’s not bad. But it’s not good either.

When I encounter a situation I can’t control — or a problem I can’t solve — the best response is to give it to God and not worry about it anymore.

But it’s so hard to do that when you’re a control freak . . . .

There’s a cartoon show that I love watching called Teen Titans. It’s a DC comic turned into a kid’s Saturday morning cartoon show. It’s not on television anymore, but I have the series on DVD. For being a kid’s show, it’s really quite witty. The Teen Titans are five teenage superheroes that basically run around saving a city from random bad guys and eating pizza on their off days. It’s a riot. One of their minor nemeses is a dude called “Control Freak” and he’s basically a geek in a trench coat with a magic remote control that can turn inanimate objects (TVs, candy bars, vending machines, etc.)  into monsters. He’s one of the fun bad guys because he’s always quoting Star Wars lines and things like that.

But to beat him, the Teen Titans have to take away his remote control because that’s where he gets his power. If he doesn’t have his remote control, he’s just an ordinary geek.

This is honestly what I thought of when I read Philippians 4:6-7 this morning.

 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 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.

We’re not supposed to worry. We all know that, but it’s hard to remember when worrying is so easy to do. We all feel like we have te have some kind of control over a situation, and we can’t rest until we get everything sorted out. But any control we think we have is an illusion.

There’s only one thing we can control and that is our reaction to the stresses of life.

We can choose to worry. Or we can choose to trust God about it and let Him lead the way. We can choose to hold on to the things that stress us out. Or we can give up the remote.

I’m working on my control freak tendencies. It’s funny because my inner control freak can be very helpful when I need her to be, but when I lose control of it that control freak inside me takes over me too. And when that happens, I’m not a very nice person anymore. And I’m so obsessed with getting something done the way I think it needs to be done, I tend to run over people. And that’s not the way we’re supposed to live.

So I’m going to do my best to turn over control of my remote, the tendencies that make me want to stress about the unsolveable problems of life. Because if I don’t turn it over, God might someday take it away to remind me that I really don’t control anything.