Wasted Worry

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.

The absence of worry!!

The absence of worry!!

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?

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Fighting Back, Guns Blazin’!

Done any life-changing reading lately?  I have.

Fight Back With Joy by the lovely Mrs. Margaret Feinberg reduced me to a puddle.  It ate my lunch.  Blew my mind.

I loved it.

Joy is the prize.  The cheese.  The coveted jewel of every life, no matter what race, class, or religion.  We all want it, we all NEED it, but few of us master it or REALLY live lives marinated in joy or defined by joy.  Who wouldn’t want a joyful life?

I certainly do.  Or I SAY I do.  And yet, so many days I choose to fight my battles with irritability, anxiety, nervous energy.  I fight with caffeine, chocolate, or macaroni and cheese.  I fight with closed-fisted anger, or seething sarcasm.  I fight with eloquent arguments. (If you don’t think I can make a good argument, just ask my husband.)  Sometimes I don’t fight, but I retreat under the covers or hide behind a busy schedule or zone out on social media.

But what if I fought with joy?  What if joy were more than an elusive state of happiness and well being?  What if it were more than a fleeting feeling I get when everything goes my way?  What if, instead of letting joy slip away when I’m faced with a battle, I picked it up and FOUGHT, using it as my weapon?  What if I ran into the battlefield of life, screaming like a banshee, with the sword of JOY glinting in the sun?  What if JOY was the weapon with which I slay the dragon of stress, slice up the monster of pain?  What if joy were what I slide back into the sheath as I stand over the slain giant of loss, foot propped on its chest like a winner?  And what if, in learning to use joy as my weapon to fight life’s battles, I ended up with a life FULL of joy?

morethanwhimsyThat’s what Margaret’s book suggests and what, in fact, she decided to do when she received a devastating diagnosis of cancer.  Fight Back With Joy is the account of her training in the weaponry of joy, and if you’re interested in learning how to wield joy as a weapon it’s the place to begin.  I’ve enjoyed Margaret’s work for a long time, and was saddened to see her diagnosis when she shared it with her readers.  She’s been to hell and back but the product is a book that challenged me in the kind of deep, meaningful, more-than-churchspeak-cliche’s-I’ve-heard-a thousand-times way I was starving for.

I’ve got a nephew who shoots sporting clays professionally.  He started as a kid with an old beat up shotgun and a knack for shooting, but he got good.  Really good.  And along the way he’s amassed quite the collection of guns.  A hundred year old gun that belonged to our great grandfather.  A brand new state of the art gun that is worth more than a small car.  He’s got all KINDS of guns because he’s GREAT at using them.  If we think of joy as a weapon, and start fighting back our demons with it, I’ll bet we’d end up with quite the arsenal in our proverbial weapons case.

I read Fight Back With Joy in a few short days, mostly on my lunch breaks.  I read with tears rolling down my cheeks and with resolve growing in my gut.  I needed to hear it, needed to know it.  The last post I wrote, I was headed into the new year, struggling with fear of the unknown.  Enter Fight Back With Joy and my perspective has shifted.  I’m still a lil scared.  What if that other shoe DOES drop?  What if…?  I don’t even know.

What I DO know is that I don’t have to sit back in fear.  I have a weapon.  More than just a salve for my wounds, or a bandage for my broken heart, joy is a WEAPON I can use to guard my life.  I can USE it.  Pick it up, wave it around, practice with it, FIGHT with it.  It’s a strategy that puts me on the offense.  I ain’t no helpless lil’ thang out here just waiting for the next horror to take me down.  I’m a woman, a warrior, with joy as my defiance against a hopeless, sad existence.

Ya’ll.  I love this.  I love the idea of defying the difficulties of life with one of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit:  Joy.  I love the thought of choosing to celebrate, practice, seek out and create joy as a way to avoid giving in to the sorrow and despair so prevalent in our world.  I gotta admit, I’ve got some target practice to do.  But I’m ready to get to it.  I’m ready to tackle life with my joy guns blazin’!  How about you?

You can get Fight Back With Joy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  Go.  Get it.  Read it.  Or get some of your tribe together and ya’ll study it.   Tell me what you think!!

 

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Resolution

It’s a new year!  And I’m kinda scared…

Just telling the truth.

I’m having a hard time being positive.  Do you ever feel like that?  Like you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop?  Like you know everything’s good but are ever looking for whatever might lurk ahead?  Like you can’t fully appreciate the beauty of now because you let imagined and real fears steal the moment?

Just me, huh?  🙂

I’ve been thinking about resolutions and wanting to make some and yet have felt kind of paralyzed by the what-if’s of 2015.  It’s a new year.  A new slate.  Another gift.  And yet what if if holds things that hurt?  This is so depressing isn’t it???

This morning I cried while telling my husband how I feel like I should be past this.  I feel like it’s a rookie faith mistake and like God deserves better from someone He’s brought so far.  I mean at some point, faith comes outside the Sunday School and enters the everyday choices of a believer’s life.  That’s when the real adventure is.  I’m not a rookie.  I’ve been following Jesus a long time. So what do I do?

Here’s what:

1)  Reflect on where I’ve been with God.  See, God and I have been some bad places already and He was enough.  He will be enough no matter what the future brings.  I have His impeccable track record to go by.

2)  Release my grip.  Even in the face of fear, I can make a choice to open my clenched emotional fist and let go of my expectations, good and bad.  I can choose to trust Romans 8:28 and believe the truth of it.

3)  Run toward my life.  Once I’ve made a choice to trust God, I am free to embrace life and not resist it.  I don’t need to back up, or even walk timidly forward.  I can RUN right into my great big overwhelming life.

Fear happens.  Sometimes the feeling is more intense for me than others.  I think it’s not the presence of fear, but how we deal with it that makes the difference.   So even though I feel like a big chicken, I am not going to BECOME a chicken.  Chickens aren’t really notorious for joyous living, ya know?  True believers on the other hand… well, they ARE.  So I’m gonna go ahead and resolve away, alright??  Alright.

2015 Resolutions:

* Make some basic doctor appointments and dental appointments, (Another fear to overcome)  and keep working toward a healthier life by continuing my exercise and continuing to practice balance in my diet.

* Do something I’m not sure I can do.

*  Laugh more.

*  Unplug one night each week.

*  Take a family vacation.

So there they are, out there for the world to see.  My resolutions for the year 2015.  Bring it on!!

 

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Femininity Forgotten? (A lesson in alliteration)

Somewhere in the avalanche of my life it’s here.  Maybe I lost it in the piles of practical shoes in the bottom of my closet.  Maybe I left it at the security checkpoint in the airport, or the self-checkout line at Winn Dixie.  Perhaps I dropped it as I ran to catch my two year old boy, or maybe it fell out the window as my car whipped around the corner just in time to get my nine year old to school.  It could be under the papers on my desk, or maybe I forgot to save it on my computer.  It’s probably beneath that baby weight I still haven’t lost, or lying beneath the mountain of ideas and thoughts labeled “save for later” that I keep in the back of my mind.

It’s my femininity.  My mystique.  My girly, giggly, high-heel-shoe-loving, red-nail-polish-painting, hot-tea-and-honey-drinking femininity.  The part of me that sleeps in lace and shaves her legs every day.  That little itch to go shopping, try on clothes at leisure, make cupcakes and light candles.

I’m not sure exactly when or where, but at some point I let my femininity slide to the back burner.  It’s always there, mind you.  I’m not saying I’ve been less feminine.  I guess I’ve just been allowing my femininity to manifest itself in a different, less desirable way.  More fussing than flirting.  More lamenting than laughing.  More stress than sweetness.  More stomp than sashay.

Aw, sure I have plenty of reasons why.  Plenty of excuses about time crunches, weariness, stress, money worries, and crazy schedules.  But all that never seems to go away.  There’s really no reason I should stop enjoying the gift of being a woman.  It may mean making time for the fru-fru, or stopping to smell the roses—literally.  But whatever it takes, there must be some prettiness preserved, some girly-ness glorified in my day to day existence.

It’s odd, I let the fun part of femininity fall by the wayside during times of overload and stress, but that fun femininity may be the very thing that relieves or at least makes the chaos more enjoyable!  Really, what stress can’t be lessened by a bubble bath or a pedicure (or both)?  If I must rush out the door, wouldn’t I rather do so in a cute pair of shoes?  Is there any outlook that isn’t improved by the right lip gloss or a spritz of my favorite scent?  Why not write my to-do list in pink ink?  Why can’t the practical be enhanced by the pretty, the everyday be shrouded in just a bit of mystique?  Why not trim the trials in a little lace?

God made me a female and I’m glad He did.  I just sometimes let the pressures crowd out the pleasures when it comes to being a woman.  So this is a reminder for me, and any others out there who may need to recall the fact that being a girl is glorious, femininity is fabulous, womanhood wonderful.  My femininity isn’t exactly something that can be forgotten.  But it can be flattened a little if I let it.

And I don’t want that.  I want the sugar and spice, swirl-around skirts, patent leather pumps, and polka dotted purses.  I’m glad I know what cucumber water is, and how to keep mascara from clumping.  I’m glad I can be sincerely grateful to God for gel nail polish and purse-sized hand sanitizer.  So bring it on, crazy life!  I’ve got laughter and love, lotion and lipstick.  I’m female, and THAT is FUN!!

 

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