My name is Kelsey and I’m a worrier. Not just a little worrier…sometimes I am overwhelmed with worry. I’m so ashamed to admit it because, as a woman of faith, I should be putting all my trust in my savior, Jesus Christ. I know it is one of my biggest character flaws. I have been thinking about blogging on this forever but even worried about getting my thoughts down succinctly. But, I also know I’m not alone in this and I thought that by writing through it, I might be able to help others who struggle with this same failure of faith.
I’m sure my worrying nature dates back to when I was very young. As I have posted before, I grew up with a very abusive father. I suffered from migraines when I was 10 years old and I underwent a myriad of medical tests to find the reason. What the doctors found was not only did I have the migraines, but I also had a full-blown ulcer. Their diagnosis was that I was over-stressed and that I worried way too much for a 10 year-old child.
I never knew the mood my father would be in when he came home from work. And I certainly couldn’t control what was going to happen…although I know I tried. I can remember rushing around trying to make everything perfect. But, nothing I did or didn’t do really had anything to do with whether he would be in a good mood or bad. And, we only needed smooth sailing until my father left for the evening. He had a slew of activities and hobbies that kept him busy and out of the house almost every night of the week.
But, after I was diagnosed with my ulcer, my mother made a decision to change the dynamic to try and help me better deal with my anxiety. From that day on, we rarely ate dinner at home with my father. My mother, brother, and I would leave the house at 5:00 p.m. sharp…just missing my father who arrived at 5:05. We went out to dinner every night! By the time we got home, my father would have already left for his evening activity. And, we were usually in bed by the time he got home. This is how we lived until my parents divorced when I was 16. But, by then, my tendency to worry had now become ingrained and second nature to me.
In an attempt to have some degree of control over all aspects of my life, I now ponder and plan, obsess and over-analyze, strategize and scheme so that every “i” can be dotted and “t” crossed. I try to take care of everything so I won’t have to worry, but it doesn’t matter. I worry anyway.
You may ask what it is that I worry about? More than anything, I worry about my children…their successes and failures. I worry about their marriages, their finances and how they can survive in this economy. I worry about my grandchildren. Will they grow strong in their faith and love the Lord? Will they do well in school? WILL THEY STAY HEALTHY? The list goes on.
Surprisingly, I don’t worry about myself. Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. While I did have some complications, for the most part, my entire cancer journey and recovery was smooth and simple. Some people would have heard the word “cancer” and they might worry about their own mortality. I don’t worry about my mortality at all. I don’t fear my death. Sometimes I think it is the only thing that would end my worrying.
I am aware that my worrying is rather self-centered and prideful and it all revolves around control. It distracts you from what is wonderful and beautiful and joyful. But, the reality is that I worry the most about things over which I have absolutely no control and over which I couldn’t fix even if I tried. Intellectually, I realize that my worrying serves no practical purpose except to immobilize me. But, that doesn’t stop the worries from creeping into my thoughts.
But, I have found ways to calm my worried heart. There are three things that I rely on to help me ‘let go and let God’. I’m not listing them in any particular order. Sometimes, just doing one of these things will be enough to put my emotions under control. Sometimes, I require doing all three because I am overcome and crippled with worry.
First is prayer. I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes when you are in the depths of despair over a problem, you can be blind to what can help. Right now my family is currently struggling with some issues that have the potential of being devastating to many. I have so many specific needs to put in prayer and I can’t verbalize my thoughts and prioritize the needs. I am overwhelmed with worry. That’s when the Holy Spirit is most helpful. Rather than articulating my concerns in a precise way…sometimes my prayers are simply my repeating “Jesus, Jesus” over and over again. The Holy Spirit knows the desires of my heart and my being articulate is completely unnecessary. Just as you would share your troubles with your best friend, our Heavenly Father is waiting to share our worries as well.
My second helpful aid is praise and worship music. Praise songs always remind me of the magnitude of my God. And when I praise God, He reveals Himself to me in incredible and wondrous ways. I have a “Worship Music” mix of over 100 songs on my iPhone. I love being in my car by myself and playing the music via my Bluetooth. I put the music on “Shuffle” mode so I never know what song will be up next. It is always a God thing that the songs I need most are the ones that I hear. And, as I sing along with the radio (at the top of my lungs), my praise turns to worship and I am calmed.
Last, but absolutely not least, is turning to God’s Word. I have certain verses that absolutely touch my soul when I read them…no matter how many times I have read them in the past. The following are many of the verses in the Bible which deal with worry:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27 New International Version) (This is one of my favorites!!)
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22 NIV)
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 King James Version)
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1 KJV)
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2 KJV)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 New American Standard Bible)
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 KJV)
“I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 New Living Translation)
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12:25 NIV)
These three things are all things we should do as part of our Christian walk but they are lifesavers when you are a worrier like me. I hope I have encouraged all you other worriers out there. Let me know the things you do to help you overcome your worrywart ways.