Stop worrying! You are not accomplishing anything constantly worrying. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve heard those words. My husband is famous for asking me, “Can you change it?” Usually followed by my low mumble of a “no.” “Then let it go!” He reminds me over and over again of the serenity prayer I learned so long ago.
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
For my entire life, I had heard “Be anxious for nothing,” followed by “just pray.” The problem I had with that is that it usually came from someone who didn’t battle with extreme anxiety. They weren’t walking in my shoes, living with an emotionally abusive alcoholic who had convinced me I was never good enough. Over the years I became that co-dependent daughter who learned to do her very best to manipulate every situation for the best possible outcome.
A nervous, desperate, controller of situations. I was a fearful perfectionist desperately trying to make things ok. Never was it good enough, and if I stopped juggling the plates I had in the air for even a moment, it all came crashing down on me. In my college years, I tried support groups. Nothing ever came from those. I went from an anxious, worrisome daughter, into a wife and mother with the same characteristics. I made everyone crazy, including myself.
About ten years ago, after nearly losing my marriage because of my anxiety, God changed my life. The serenity prayer became real to me. A true mantra in my life, reinforced by my loving husband who willingly walked beside me in my recovery from living a life of anxious desperation.
Each time I read Philippians 4:6-7 I’m reminded to be anxious about nothing, but I could never put the scripture into my own words…to really own it until now. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I needed to go deeper, to honestly look at the commands God was putting forth for me, and then to truly understand what He was saying. So I broke it down.
As I read scripture, I always look for directions God provides me. It’s a list for me of the command, and how to accomplish it or the frequency at which to do it. My study page looks like this.
Once those commands and the “how to” are boxed and underlined, I get the definitions. Yes, I’m looking up words to which I already have an understanding. I need to break them down further. I need to look at the true definition of the word, not simply my perceived understanding. And so it breaks down more.
After my study time, God allowed me to create my paraphrase of Philippians 4:6-7, and suddenly as I’m walking in this new phase of anxiety called healing, God provided me with the greatest understanding of this passage I have ever had. My interpretation became, “Don’t worry about anything. In all things, big and little, significant and insignificant talk to God. Make your worries and concerns known to Him. Be polite and thankful when you make your requests. Humble yourself and know that the calm tranquility that comes on from God and makes no sense to man will be upon you. That peace and comfort will overcome you. Protect your heart and mind from attack knowing that in Christ Jesus, you will have all that you need.”
I finally get it, Lord! He didn’t tell me never to worry, for in this human flesh that would be impossible. What God did say is when I worry, turn it over to Him. Talk to Him. Be respectful and polite, I mean He is my Father. But let Him know the things that worry me…the things that scare me, and shake me to my core. Then, rather than holding on to those things, and trying to fix them, or orchestrate my path around them, GIVE them to GOD and never pick them up again! He will bear my worries. He will carry my burdens, and He alone will provide me peace and comfort that truly can never be explained in any way other than it comes from God.
Dear One, emotional hurts are I believe the most difficult hurts to carry. It’s not a broken bone that needs to heal. It’s a broken heart, its wounds to the very core of our soul. But let me make this very clear. God can heal those! He can heal to the deepest places of your heart, mind, and soul. There’s only one catch. You have to be willing to let Him.
I pray you find peace, and that each day you can make a baby step toward putting your fears and worries on God. His shoulders are broad enough for both of you, and He’s ready, willing and able to carry your burdens. Just let Him.