If you asked me to make a list of things I’m tempted to worry about or stress over, I could make a list a mile long. If you’ve ever self-identified as a control-freak, I’m right there with you. If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night struck with fear or anxiety, you’re not alone. If all of this sounds familiar, this is for you, friend. So, let’s talk about it . . .
I was always a worrier. I apparently got it honest from my mom’s mom. As kids, we had to omit certain injuries and illnesses from weekly conversations with my grandmother who lived in another town so that she would not fuss over us. When my mom went to the grocery store every Saturday morning, I would watch out the large window in the den for her safe return in our driveway. If she was just minutes late returning, my little mind had already naturally wandered to imagining her car careening off the road resulting in impending death. Typical, light-hearted thoughts of a seven-year-old, right?
Growing up, I struggled with a lot of fear and anxiety surrounding the safety of myself and my loved ones along with a laundry list of other fears. I often imagined what it would be like to lose a loved one unexpectedly. I was in a series of car wrecks in childhood, so I have a lot of anxiety when I’m a passenger in a vehicle. In my early 20s, I made some irresponsible financial decisions that led to debt that haunted me. I stopped opening my mail so that I could avoid the pit in my stomach of stress and anxiety of the mounting debt. I convinced myself that if I ignored it, the debt didn’t exist. I didn’t truly believe this lie, but I tried so hard just so I could pretend to feel better. These fears became a go-to foothold for Satan in my life and I fooled myself into believing I was quite comfortable living inside the cage of anxiety and fear I’d built for myself. When I finally decided to break free, I realized that I wasn’t actively listening for God’s voice, and Satan was right there ready to whisper his lies. If I wasn’t careful, the lies sank in and took root. The fear was paralyzing. Have you experienced this, friend? It’s okay if you have. The good news is that you don’t have to stay there. The trap you feel caught in does not really exist. Satan only wants you to think it’s real, but it’s not. You can safely step out of that trap. So, how do you do it? Let’s take a closer look together . . .
So, what’s really going on when we experience fear, worry, doubt, and anxiety? I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation for each one of those words that identifies why we have these reactions to circumstances in our lives, but each of those words also suggests that something is missing.
Safety. Security. Faith. Peace.
Ultimately, when we’re not in communion with the Holy Spirit, these things are absent. I don’t know about you, but safety, security, faith, and peace do not naturally dwell within me. I have to seek them out. In Eden, I imagine Adam and Eve did not experience fear or worry because they were in communion with God. But what happened when they left the protection of the boundaries God provided? Their actions led to spiritual separation from God’s truth and protection. In Eden, we trusted that God had control and all was right. Outside of Eden, we chase control because we believe it will provide safety, security, faith, and peace, but it never works out in our favor. Control is a liar. Control does not truly exist. Instead, in order to regain the peace we’re craving, we must relinquish the control we idolize and trust that no matter what happens that God is still in control.
I used to think I always have to have a plan. I am a lover of calendars, checklists, packing lists, color-coding, goal setting, and paper planners. I seriously love planning. I’m slowly learning, however, that it’s good to have a plan, but you have to hold that plan loosely. Why? Because God also has a plan. You don’t have to worry about tomorrow. Why? Because God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and tomorrow is already taken care of. I’m learning to find comfort time and again in His plan for my life and to trust that when I’m out of ideas, solutions, and plans that He’s got it taken care of. God loves us so much. He didn’t create us to carry the weight of this world. We’re not designed for it. No wonder that weight drags us to the depths if we let it. Let it go, friend. It’s not yours.
When we cling to control, we live in fear instead of resting in the knowledge that the Lord is in control. When we cling to doubt and worry, we deny the Lord the very trust that he’s asked us to put in him. When we allow anxiety to grip us tightly, we forget what the loving embrace of the Father feels like. How often do we allow our own egos to arrest us from having a true relationship with the Lord?
So, what’s the solution? Well, this subject can still be a daily struggle for me depending on the season and the demands of the day, but the secret lies in scripture. The more scripture we bury safely into the deep recesses of our souls, the safer we’ll be in the moments of seeming chaos, stress, and anxiety. Praying scripture, reading scripture, and singing scripture has proven time and again the easiest way to peace. I’m including a list of scriptures that I hope encourage you today. I encourage you to find a few of your own to add to the list. Trust that God is faithful. Trust that He knows what you need and that He will provide. Trust that He has it all figured out. Because He does.
Psalm 46: 1-11
Psalm 112: 1-10
Isaiah 40: 1-31
I also find music comforting:
- Go to www.theversesproject.com to hear hundreds of scriptures that have been set to music.
- Listen Be Held: Lullabies for the Beloved by Christy Nockels for peace of mind (One of my favorite things is that there’s a muted track on every song where Christy prays for the listener and reads scripture. Even though you can’t hear it, know that it’s there and that you’re being prayed over when you listen.)
- I was given a copy of Celtic Psalms by Eden’s Bridge when I was a teenager and the music and verses have brought me comfort for years.
- Audrey Assad’s album Inheritance is a great collection of hymns.
Thanks for reading, friend. Let go of the worry. Let go of the semblance of control. Take a deep breath. All the way down to your soul. Take the Lord’s hand. Let him walk ahead of you.
Laura Sue Johnson is a recovering emo kid who lives in north Georgia with her husband, Adam, and daughter, Imogen. She loves hip-hop and Jane Austen, and she will talk non-stop about Savannah, her hometown, if you let her. You can catch her blogging occasionally at www.laurasuejohnson.com and you can always catch her posting photos over on Instagram at @laurasuejohson.