Friday, July 4, 2014

Understanding worry

Having spent most of my life suffering from severe depression and anxiety, I am well accustomed to the concept of worry. Significant portions of my life have been spent worrying about things - mostly needlessly. Throughout my 12 years of walking as a Christian I have learned a great deal not only about worry but about the psychology and wrong thinking behind it. Some of this learning has only come to me very recently - as in over the last few days. I would like to share some of these revelations in the hope that they will speak to someone.

1. Worry can easily be seen as a form of preparation.
Don't get me wrong - there are some things that we quite rightly need to be concerned about regarding the future which we need to take active steps in order to prevent them happening. This is normal, and healthy. But when this becomes extreme, it isn't healthy at all. I have just recently discovered about myself that I see all worry about everything as a form of preparation and prevention of bad things happening to the point that I have been afraid to relax and let go. This has been rooted in wrong thinking that I have carried around in my heart and operated out of subconsciously, without actually realizing what I was doing. The wrong thinking I have been subconsciously believing has been the lie that being constantly worried about bad things happening means that I am constantly prepared for them, which in turn means that they won't happen or that I will be better equipped to face them once they do happen. The worst part of the lie I've been believing has been that if I relax and let go nothing but bad things will come upon me and that it will be my fault that they did happen because I relaxed and let go and thus wasn't working hard to prevent them. It's like when bad things have happened in the past I've blamed myself because I wasn't alert and prepared enough to be able to prevent them.

It's almost like I've felt that if I just totally relaxed and let go of everything and stopped trying to control things by worrying about them, that the world was going to end and that it was going to be my fault that it ended because I wasn't worrying about everything and therefore preventing it from happening. I now realize just how faithless this mode of thinking is and how it completely removes the power of God. It is God's job to be in control of the world and how it operates - not mine. Living in a constant state of turmoil and worry is not good for anyone. I always remember a word of prophecy I was given many years ago where God said to me "Graham - where you end, I begin." I realize that I have struggled hugely to let myself end because I don't trust God taking over and beginning to operate in my circumstances. I don't trust enough in His goodness and His faithfulness to be in charge of my world even regarding the things I have no power over. I still have learning to do.

2. Worry is a sign of a lack of faith.
Relaxation and trusting the world into God's hand - including His ability to communicate to us and let us know when He wants us to do something - is living by faith. Trying to be God and trying to be in charge of everything that it is actually His job to be in charge of is living by fear and placing unrealistic expectations upon ourselves that we are simply not capable of fulfilling, yet we feel as if we have to anyway. I can understand how some would find it hard to have faith in God's goodness and God's control of their world. I certainly have - seeing as God has lead me into some terrible trials, especially over the past 5 years where I have faced more hardship than I have in my entire life up to that point. There's still a part of me that is afraid to trust God because I feel that He's going to lead me into something bad again and that it's something that I need to go through. I remember reading a note in my old Teen Bible that said God is saying to us that He loves us, and just wants to help us because He wants what's best for us.

I struggle to trust in God's omnipotence and omnipresence. Due to the spiritual ties I have carried around with me I have lived in terrible fear of being under the power of another person or object because my immediate expectation has been that they would use that power for harm and that I wouldn't be able to stop them or rescue myself once I gave that power over to them. Identifying this wrong thinking and bringing it to the light has been helping to break its power over me and helped me to realize that I can trust God in these areas and that the safest place to be is right in the centre of the will of God - even if that can be a hard place to live sometimes. God is faithful and His heart is for us - not against us. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of that.

3. Learning to stop worrying is a process - not a quick fix.
One of the most powerful testimonies I ever heard was from someone who had lived in a very dark place before they came to Christ. I cannot remember their name, their story or even when or where I read the testimony but I always remember one specific part where he said that little by little he was slowly giving the steering wheel of his life over to Jesus. This communicated to me that control over his life which obviously helped sooth his anxiety was not something he could completely give over instantaneously, but rather something that needed to happen slowly and over a period of time. It's not as if Jesus was not faithful to completely take the wheel and take complete control over this man's life at once - because He was. But where this man was at meant that to give everything over at once would have been completely overwhelming for him emotionally as it would have thrown all of the darkness in his heart to the surface at once which probably would have destroyed him.

I certainly relate to this. It has been a process in my life too. Every time a bit of wrong thinking is revealed - and healed - Jesus "takes the wheel" a little bit more in my life. If every bit of wrong thinking in my heart was thrown into my face at once it certainly would have overwhelmed me and I would not have been able to cope. Jesus knows this and therefore has taken to revealing truth and healing to me slowly and over a period of time at a rate that I could handle it. I've likened it to a tree growing - sometimes it doesn't look like it's growing at all, especially when you see it every day. However if you don't see it for 6 months you will be amazed at how much bigger it's become over that time. There is no harm or shame in slow growth as God knows our individual hearts and circumstances and if we let Him, will grow us at a pace that's perfect for us.

I hope that this has spoken to someone. Learn to face the worry and wrong thinking that drives it in your life. Have faith in a God that is infinitely bigger than you are and wants the best for you, and don't be frustrated if you are on this path but it's taking longer than you would have liked.

Take care and be blessed.

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