October 30th 2015 (2) comments so far
While I am a novice at maintaining peace of mind, I am an expert at shattering it. I wanted to share with you today how the Lord offers us peace, but I must first share what comes naturally to me—a tendency to crush all peace with anxiety.
Anxiety is an ongoing feeling of worry, fear, or unease; it is a feeling that something terrible is looming, even if no immediate threat is present. That is, of course, the opposite of peace, which here I will define as a sound mind in the face of any circumstance, dangerous or not.
In my case, anxiety triggers can range anywhere from physical dangers to social stress, depending on the gravity I lend to each situation. If you want to rob yourself of peace, as I often do, try out my techniques below. If not, stay tuned for a better option.
- Believe your possessions define you.
Did you see the new SUV, iGadget, or designer handbag? You had better get one, because goodness knows your entire identity depends on it. If you don’t have it all, you will be left behind; then who will you be?
- Think catastrophically.
If you fail, it will be the end of the world. You had better not slow down or else. “Or else what?” you might be tempted to ask, but don’t, or you may realize that these fears are vague and unfounded.
- Tell yourself your worth depends on performance.
That’s right, be your own slave driver. You had better get that promotion at work, or you’ll be worthless. You had better buy your kids the coolest clothes, or you’ll be a terrible mother. You had better be the best, or no one will love you. (Nevermind the fact that we cannot measure what “the best” actually is.)
- Compare yourself to everyone around you.
If Mrs. Jones can bake ten dozen cookies, drop off her three beautiful children promptly for school, lead a yoga class, lead a Bible study, play the lead in the community musical, and take a hundred perfect selfies while doing it, why can’t you? It must say something terrible about you as a person if you can’t keep up, so you should ignore your gifts and start worrying why you’re not as good as she is.
- Imagine all the things that could go wrong in your life.
While you can control some of the things above, you are ultimately powerless to stop the world from hurting you. If you think about disease, natural disasters, rampant gun violence, advanced warfare, economic uncertainty, political strife, and countless mental and social struggles like adultery or depression, you can worry every second for the rest of your life. Easy peasy.
Does any of the above madness sound familiar? All the nail-biting and sweating above comes down to our deepest fears—our fear of not being good enough or powerful enough; our fear of lacking control; our fear of our own faults and failures; our fear of the world itself. How could we have sound minds in a world where everything has gone wrong, including ourselves? On what can we rely for love and safety?
I have learned something about peace that trumps everything I know about anxiety—God’s perfect love casts out fear. God is more than good enough and powerful enough. He is always in control, and He has no faults or failures. He has overcome the world. And He graciously commands you to cast all your anxieties on Him. Why? Because He cares for you, just as you are.
Though there seem to be countless reasons to be anxious, the Bible gives us a firm tactic against our worries: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6, NIV). What is the result of handing our worries over to the unchanging, unfailing, perfect Creator of the world? Look to the next verse. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7, NIV).
Knowing I am loved as I am, and that my soul is safe with Christ no matter what, I can learn to go in peace, and so can you. As Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” May His words speak louder than our fears.
Written by Patricia Krecklow
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