Ever since I read Fight Back With Joy, I’ve been thinking a lot about my level of worry or anxiety. My daughter Mackenzie and I were having a conversation the other morning and I tried to share with her what’s been brewing inside me on this subject.
Mackenzie and I were in the kitchen and over cooking breakfast she told me about an awful nightmare she had. In her dream, her little brother had been hurt and she couldn’t help him. Mackenzie being the amazing big sister she is (12 years older than her little bro) and the kind soul she is, felt shaken deeply by the dream. I could identify. I felt her pain. When Mackenzie was small, sometimes feelings of anxiety would overwhelm me and I couldn’t leave her or let her go with someone else because I was afraid she’d be hurt. I lived in fear of car accidents or broken bones or kidnapping. Sometimes I still do. But you know what??
None of that has ever happened.
Ya’ll I’ve worried myself sick over stuff that’s NEVER HAPPENED.
Now some horrible stuff HAS happened to me, but I noticed as I considered this that I never worried about any of the stuff that actually occurred. They always came on without warning as tragedies tend to do, and I had no inkling that I needed to be afraid those things would happen. I was never scared that my ex-husband would leave me for another woman, or that my superhero daddy might have a terrible stroke, or that a hurricane might turn my life upside down, or that one of my darling friends might get cancer. When those horrors DID occur, you know what? We got through. We’re getting through. God sustained us, provided for us, healed us, drew us closer together. And it’s all right. There has been sufficient grace for every awful moment in my life so far.
This proves two things: One, I’m absolutely terrible at predicting the future. Sorry if you were hoping I’d hang a neon sign on my door and open for business. It’s not looking good. And two, God is very good at being God and I need not attempt to do His job for Him.
So why do I waste my time with worry and anxiety? I was sharing with Mackenzie after her nightmare that even though life can and likely WILL hand me some terrible things, I’m often haunted by fears of things that most likely won’t occur. Why spend time worrying and entertaining anxious thoughts of things that probably WON’T happen? I’ve got to trust God to get me through the bad stuff that does happen, but I can’t predict what that stuff will be, so why take away from the joy of what IS by trying to be clairvoyant about potential pain? Ya’ll, I can BREATHE… quit braking on the passenger side, and enjoy the ride.
This is not to say that anxiety or worry won’t come knocking. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, blindsided by a fear or a sudden horrific thought. But it occurs to me that I don’t have to entertain the thoughts. I don’t have to sit in them or let them take over. I can go back to trust, back to grace. I can shift my focus to something joyful. I can fight back with joy, embrace the grace that has been extended to me, and be grateful for the wonderful things in my life.
They’re there, you know. The wonderful things. The fairies far outnumber the monsters in my world.
So how do you do it? How do you fight the fears that threaten you? How do you control the temptation to worry wastefully?by