I Used to be a Big Worrier… Until 6 weeks ago
Editor’s Note: This is Part 3 “Stopping Worry in Its Tracks” in the Biblical Peacemaking Series.
I used to be a big worrier. I’d worry about finances, how I looked, what I ate, what other people thought of me, my husband and what would happen if he wasn’t here anymore, my health, worst case scenarios and I’d even worry about what God thought of me and if I was truly saved. My worrying was driving me off the tracks, driving me crazy. My worry had developed into unhealthy fear and anxiety. We all do it, ladies. We tend to be worriers. Why is that?
The Big Picture: Worry
#1 Women are more emotional by nature.
We are sympathetic and empathetic. We were created for relationship and romance, longing for our hearts to be stirred, to feel passion, love, and adventure, but also longing to nurture, embrace, and protect life. When your child runs out in the street, you feel fear…maybe even panic. When a friend tells you her mother died, you immediately feel sad, thinking of your own mother or mother figures in your life. We are relational so when something bad happens to people around us, even if we don’t know them, our emotions are heightened and worry is more likely to creep in.
#2 We live in a sinful world.
Bad things happen everyday. Just turn on the news or pick a newspaper. Last night a news bulletin interrupted my television program announcing that two people had been shot in the greater Denver area. Satan preys on us when these things happen. He likes to make us fearful because he wins when we give in, when we are so distracted with worry that it keeps us from going to God.
#3 We are insecure.
This is a big one. We all struggle with insecurity. We don’t feel like we’re good enough. We aren’t sure about our futures. We’ve been hurt before and we don’t want to be hurt again. I struggle with being in control. I like to know what’s going to happen. I like everything to go according to plan so when it doesn’t I tend to panic. I tend to become upset because I battle this inner desire to control things.
When Eve took of the fruit, she desired to be in control. How did God curse her? “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” Adam may have failed her by not stepping up and stopping her, but Eve willfully chose to be in control instead of relinquishing control to God and her husband. Why? Because Satan preyed on her insecurity. He made her question what God had said, made her think she knew better. And when her eyes were opened, she did know better. She and Adam ran to hide from God, ashamed. She blamed the serpent when confronted with God because she didn’t want to admit responsibility. When we try to take over, we aren’t secure in God’s love or guidance.
#4 We desire comfort and security.
Another big one! We want to be safe. We install security alarms on our cars and houses, avoid scary parts of town, read warning labels, and shut and lock our doors and windows at night. Why is this? Security is a big priority for women. When people fail us, we tend to become defensive and to pull back. Why? Because we don’t like being hurt and we want to protect ourselves. Americans live for comfort. Big homes. Big cars. Comfy couches. Comfy beds. Numbing out to movies and TV. Friends who are just like us from the same socioeconomic backgrounds and similar interests. Comfort foods. We greatly desire comfort because we live in a society that demands comfort.
Side Effects of Worry
#1 Worry causes physical side effects.
We have trouble sleeping and concentrating. We under-eat or over-eat. We over exercise or under exercise. We feel stress pains.
Being completely vulnerable here, I went through a period where I had a borderline eating disorder. I didn’t actually throw up food, but food stressed me out so I often skipped meals or ate like a bird. I couldn’t eat in front of other people (at least not well) because I’d worry about eating too much or too little and what they would think about me. I’d even think I was going to be sick and spend lots of time in the bathroom (not being sick, but feeling miserable) and worrying if people knew I had eating problems. I dropped weight like crazy and my face lost its fullness to the point where I had severely defined cheekbones. I began eating semi-normally again in late college, but it wasn’t until dating Adam that I truly enjoyed eating food again. Worry can do some terrible things to our bodies.
#2 Worry causes emotional side effects.
We have trouble being sociable. We become irritable, defensive, and angry. We are stressed to the point of emotional exhaustion. We wallow in depression. We battle mood swings.
Drs. Ed and Cecilia Beckham write in A Personal Guide to Coping: Coping with Worry and Anxiety,
“Some persons experience a sense of shame regarding their anxiety… Persons with anxiety often feel that they are weak or defective and may treat it like a secret which must be hidden in a closet…When a person feels ashamed of such feelings, it creates a problem on top of a problem. Shame blocks the ability of persons to view the anxiety problem clearly and to deal with it as they would deal with any other difficulty.”
#3 Worry causes spiritual side effects.
Worry disconnects us from the Father and puts things back into our so-called control. Worry divides us from a healthy prayer life, causes us to put off devotions because we’re afraid of what God’s Word might say to us, and makes us afraid to seek help within the Body of Christ.
Up until about 6 weeks ago, I struggled with giving my husband over to God completely because I was afraid that God would take him away. I was terrified of losing Adam, worrying when he’d leave, especially if he was going somewhere late at night without me. I remember shaking my head at God saying to myself, “Don’t ask me to give up my husband.”
God broke my heart one night as I was sobbing late at night in my husband’s arms, realizing how wrong I was to hold back from God. I finally gave my husband over to Him, trusting God to take care of Adam and to provide for/protect me if something should happen to Adam. Once I did, I confessed what I had been struggling with at ladies Bible study, asking for prayer that I wouldn’t revert back. After giving everything over to God, I have so much peace in my heart, and my relationship with Christ has improved drastically.
Strategies for Battling Worry
#1 Ask God to search your heart for worry.
Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Pray that God would show you the areas in your life where you’re worrying.
#2 Take your worries to God.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Dialogue constantly with God, especially when you feel worry creeping into your heart and mind. Let go and let God.
#3 Remember worry is not of God.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Claim in your heart that you have power over fear, that God loves you, and that you have a sound mind, grounded in Jesus Christ.
#4 Remember God will provide.
Matthew 6:25-34 says, “…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
#5 Remember who you are in Christ.
Romans 8:35, 37-39 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.“
Bottom Line: You cannot have peace in your heart until you willingly and daily give up control of your life/marriage/ relationships to the Lord and stop letting worry drive you off the tracks.
I’d love to hear from you
What is God asking you to give up but you’re afraid to? How have you coped with worry in the past? What Biblical strategies do you use to battle worry?
1. Jump on the Peace Train An introduction to the Peacemaking in Marriage Series – “Sometimes conflict is a good thing, but it’s never a God thing.”
2. When You’re Flying Downhill: Running Headfirst into Discord When desires quickly become idols and lead to discord
3. Don’t Toot Your Own Horn (Putting off Self) Part 2A “Idols are anything we’d toot our own horn for – things we desperately want other people to notice and praise.”
4. Don’t Toot Your Own Horn (Putting Off Self) Part 2B “I am convinced the farther away from God I am, the more I’ll pursue my own selfish ambition, and in turn, the farther away from my husband I’ll be.” I share some lessons I’ve learned about selfishness vs. selflessness in marriage.