Worry is something I have struggled with my whole life. As a child I was misdiagnosed with ADD. I constantly worried that I was bad, not good enough, not still enough, not right enough and not smart enough. This worry manifested into anxiety which kept me from being able to sit still, concentrate in school and reinforced the idea that, this child must really have ADD. It wasn’t until college when my French professor took me aside and recognized that I couldn’t spell my French vocabulary correctly that I was tested for dyslexia. Come to find out anxiety and a learning disability was what I really struggled with all those years in school. No wonder medication never helped. But damage was already done and I was a habitual worrier about everything.
When you spend so much time in a thought process it is hard to change it. I am thankful that through God’s grace my thought patterns are changing and my response to worry has changed with it. In Mark E. Moore’s book Core 52 He states, “Neuro-scientific research has given us the fascinating insight that protein branches hold our thoughts. In a real sense, thoughts create real estate in our brains. The more we dwell on a thought, the larger the constellation of proteins become.”
When we worry we are meditating negatively on an outcome. That constellation of proteins are getting bigger and bigger the more we worry about that outcome. I had some big constellations of proteins in my head, especially once I had children. When they were babies, before I’d go to sleep worse case scenario’s would roll though my head. I worried about them not waking up, being kidnapped all kinds of horrible things. I worried so much about them I didn’t enjoy being a parent until they were older and I started learning how to fight back against worry. You can fight back.
Moore explains that “worry stems from poor mental habits. It’s unnecessary, unproductive and unrealistic.” Joyce Meyers often compares worry to rocking in a rocking chair. Your moving but your not going anywhere. The good news is that the new testament spends a great amount of time encouraging us not to worry. Matthew Chapter 6 starting on verse 25 is an account of Jesus’s direction on worry.
“Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious ( perpetually uneasy, distracted) about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, as to what you will wear, Is life not more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they are neither sow (seed) nor reap (the harvest) nor gather (the crops) into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
God provides. I play keyboard on our church’s worship team and I have just started and I don’t have a lot of shoes or clothes that are appropriate. I was planning on going to the mall to get something I could wear to play this weekend. Which causes worry in itself because the mall is a public, busy place and I don’t want to catch Covid. I found out the Sunday before I was playing that it was “wear your jersey to church day” because it was Super Bowl Sunday. My husband had a colts Payton Manning jersey. I didn’t need to buy one. But I still felt a little silly wearing it because it was so old. So on Wednesday night I mentioned that I would be wearing an old school jersey. Well Sunday came and one of the singers generously wore her Manning jersey too and Payton was inducted into the Hall of Fame the night before. Suddenly It wasn’t so silly for me to be wearing an old jersey. God provided everything I needed. I didn’t need to worry about clothes at all.
The solution to worry according to Moore? Faith. Faith cancels out worry. Having faith that God is ultimately in control, loves you more than the birds and the flowers and will keep His promises is what fights worry. The outcome is peace. What a wonderful thing to replace that worry with, peace.
Instead of focusing on worry the Bible encourages us to focus on the good. Praise God, be thankful and gracious to Him. Philippians 4:6-9 says, “Finally brothers whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
We are told to instead of focusing on the negative thoughts that we are fed daily by Satan to focus on truth, honor, justice, pureness, loveliness and things that are worthy of praise. I love to hike, I love nature. When I get to go to a park or hike a trail I am surrounded by loveliness, and beauty and my attitude changes to one of joy. That’s just from changing my environment. Mark warns, “We can’t just rid ourselves a thought. That leaves a vacuum in its place, and the negativity gets sucked right back in. We must replace negative thoughts with God’s truths.” Meyers encourages us to say scripture out loud to combat these negative thoughts. For example instead of worrying about my clothes I could have said, “Jesus said not to worry about clothes, God loves me more than the birds and the flowers he will provide for me.” Worship music, listening to podcasts and sermons also help redirect our thoughts away from worry.
Don’t forget the opposite of worry is a peace of mind. Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus gave us peace. Peace despite the trouble we face. John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my perfect peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. (Let my perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.”AMP