Winning Over Worry Part II
Jesus said, "Don't worry about things—food, drink and clothes…. Don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time."1
The discovery of how worry and anxiety affect physical and emotional health was not made by our generation. It was three thousand years ago that the Bible pointed out that "a relaxed attitude lengthens a man's life."2 It was two thousand years ago when the Apostle Paul wrote, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus."3
However, it's one thing to know about God's peace and another thing to experience it. It begins with being able to see and admit our real fears, by facing and resolving them, and by learning to give them over to God—and not take them back.
The causes behind worry and anxiety can be many and varied. The following are some of the major ones with some helpful tips for winning over them.
First, if anxiety is situational—that is, caused by adverse circumstances or too much work, I find it helps to list all my responsibilities on paper. This is half the battle. I then eliminate the least important matters, work on the things I can do something about, and try to learn to accept the things I cannot change and to stop worrying about them.
Second. If the problem is repressed, pent-up feelings such as resentment, hurt or anger, those feelings need to be expressed in healthy ways. If you're nursing a grudge, you will need to put things right with the other person concerned and forgive him or her.4 Negative feelings can be talked out with a trusted friend or counselor. Or, if it helps, go for a drive in your car with the windows closed and shout your feelings out, go to the bedroom and cry them out, or write them out as David often did in the Psalms. Just don't bottle them up.
One night when I was worried and couldn't sleep, I got up and typed a letter to God sharing all my feelings with him. Within a half-hour I had released my pent-up feelings. I then read them back to God, tore up the page, went back to bed, and fell asleep immediately.
Good, hard physical exercise is also helpful when you're feeling worried or anxious.
Third, if your worry is caused by unmet emotional or spiritual needs, you can remedy this by growing in your relationship to God and other people—both of which are keys to vital, worry-free living. A spiritual growth group or a good twelve-step recovery program can be a big help for some. As you open up to other safe people and to God and feel their love and acceptance, you can slowly change feelings of fear, guilt, anger, inadequacy, anxiety, and worry for feelings of hope, confidence, peace, and love.
To be concluded…
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, when I am worried and anxious, if there are hidden causes behind these, please help me to see them and lead me to the help I need to resolve these issues at their root so I can fully trust in you and not be worried, anxious or afraid. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Matthew 6:25, 34 (TLB)(NLT).
2. Proverbs 14:30 (TLB)(NLT).
3. Philippians 4:6-7 (TLB)(NLT).
4. See Matthew 5:23-24.