Are you a peace seeker? I already know you said yes. We want peace in the world, peace in our communities, peace in our relationships and peace for our own hearts. But when we’re suffocating under anxiety, there is no peace. Where can we find peace? Here’s a clue. It doesn’t come from within when we are overwhelmed by “What-if” producing anxiety. There’s this verse in Proverbs 12:25 that spells it out pretty clearly: “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.” Not to sound like a repetitive commercial, but you might recognize this mantra: If you get the inside right, the rest will take care of itself. As it turns out, that’s a true statement. Go back and let Proverbs 12:25 sink in a little bit.
Our lives are lived between the bookends. Do you have morning and evening rituals? These are the bookends of your day. Maybe your morning routine is well practiced and regimented, but ending your day is more fluid. How you invest yourself at daybreak and before the lights go out at night have an impact on your anxiety level. If you want to escape anxiety, protect the first part of your day and protect the last part of your day.
When you jump out of bed in the morning, or even if your jump is more like removing tar from the sole of your shoe, plant this thought in your mind. This is a good day and I’m going to protect it. Think about morning. Do your feet hit the floor and your next action is to turn on the news? Really? Why? The world will continue to churn whether you stand by and watch it or not. Here’s your first bookend. Protect your morning – at least the first half hour. Instead of the news, peace-seeker friend, feed your spirit with truth, light, and joy through prayer, meditation, reading scripture or a devotional. During the day, there will be time to catch up on the news – if it’s really your priority. Trust me on that.
I have a friend who was being treated for depression. Over the course of a few months it became apparent that addiction to watching the news was contributing to deep despair, anxiety and depression. If this describes you, Stop! Stop it! There is nothing good happening in the news today. The Center for Disease Control says this “Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population. It has been estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world, trailing only ischemic heart disease.” Don’t be trapped inside a statistic like that one.
Protect your morning. Psalms 63:1 “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You.”
Bookend your evening with peace enhancing practices. Psalm 65:8 “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”
Then let’s talk about preparing to sleep at night, the companion bookend. Winding down, isn’t a cliché, it’s a process. Start at least a half hour before lights out. Do something that calms your soul. Read, listen to music, diffuse essential oils, meditate, you get the idea. Many times I drift off to sleep praying for people I love and people I don’t know at all, but have heard of their plight and ask God to shelter them and give them special heaven-sent blessings. I shouldn’t be surprised then to wake up praying – like God put a bookmark in my prayer. Other times I read the Bible or another book that calms my mind and lifts my spirits. Never waste the last half hour of your day pouring fire into your brain – like watching the news. But it’s a habit. Yes, yes it is. And it breeds anxiety.
Protect your evening. Psalm 16:7 I will praise the Lord who guides me; yes, during the night I reflect and learn.
Your life is lived between the bookends of your day. Protect it by surrounding your hours with a peaceful start to your morning and calming end to your evening.
Escape Anxiety – Shield your mind, Guard your heart, Protect your day
You (God) keep in perfect peace the people who maintain their faith, for they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
The day and the night are both Yours, God — You fashioned the sun, moon,and all the lights that pierce the darkness. Psalm 74:16
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety threatened to overwhelm me, your consolation brought me joy. But the Lord will protect me, and my God will shelter me. Psalm 94:18-19, 22