If we practice it diligently, anxiety can become a habit. If we practice it diligently, peace can become a habit. Remember that habits are learned behavior. Anxiety can be unlearned. The best way to learn or unlearn is what? Practice! The best time to start is when? How about right now? Today is a good day to forge a path toward confidence in the future and away from worry and anxiety. Will it be easy? Not really. But it will be worth it. We’ll need a lot of energy for the task so let’s start with being joyful. Think of one thing that brings you joy…..if you have to go back a ways, that’s OK. Philippians 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” I don’t know about you, but I want to know the Lord is near. Could it be that the beginning of the end of anxiety starts with searching for joy in our circumstances?
Joy doesn’t come from our spouse, or friend, or children or our work – no matter how much we love any of those things. Joy doesn’t come from perfect health, a new car, or Starbucks. Joy comes from our relationship with God; it’s internal. Acts 16:34 says, “he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.” Sometimes joy gets buried under layers of worry, fear of “what-if”, and obsessions with things. Joy is personal. Sometimes that monorail between my heart and heaven gets smokin’ hot because I pray. A lot. I have to search for joy because it won’t come find me. Joy is internal and gets buried deep. Jeremiah 29:13 promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Search for joy, find peace. It’s not a one-step process though. It’s something we do day after day, moment to moment and it’s never in our own strength. Here’s something to remember. God, who has my heart, who is the source of joy, who brings peace, will give me stability. Psalm 73:25-26 says, “Whom do I have in heaven but you? I desire no one but you on earth. My flesh and my heart may grow weak, but God always protects my heart and gives me stability.”
If you want joy, if you want peace, talk to God and empty your soul of worries, anger, frustrations, and attitudes that are caught in the spin cycle. God knows all about them, but acknowledging them before the Lord enables you to give up control. I like how Corrie ten Boom wrote, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. “ When we are in that perpetual cycle of worry and anxiety, our energies are completely depleted, leaving us feeling defeated and hopeless.
Now is a good time to be reminded of the joy factors in our lives, and these are not dependent on circumstances. Confess fears, shed all those worries and give them to the Lord. “And we destroy every arrogant obstacle that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 Something to think about: Holding on to worries and obsessing over them might be an arrogant obstacle to joy and peace.
You know that list of things to do that’s kept in plain sight so you don’t forget? What if you had a list like this? I refuse to take back my worry about “_____” . I am going to forgive “that or them” because it’s the right thing to do and I’m weary of the burden. I am not going to own “______” because it is outside my control. I am not going to take back “__________” because I have given it to God who controls everything anyway. I’ve needed lists like that. Sometimes I still do.
Today might be one day that the lines of communication are between you and God are red hot due to constant use. I don’t know about you, but when I plan my day and anticipate what the future holds, I don’t want to be saddled by worry and anxiety. I want to be free to run the race, unshackled by debilitating anxiety. I loved this quote by Corrie ten Boom “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” If prayer is my steering wheel, I have a better chance of escaping anxiety and being victorious over worry. Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Escaping Anxiety Tools for a Peaceful Life
- Focus on Philippians 4:8-9 – think on things that bring peace
- Protect your first part of the day; protect your last part of the day
- Learn from the past
- Search for joy, find peace
When the mountain is steep
when the valley is deep
when the body is weary
when we stumble and fall
When the choices are hard
when we’re battered and scarred
when we’ve spent our resource
when we’ve given our all
In Jesus name we press on
In Jesus name we press on
dear lord, with the prize
clear before our eyes
we find the strength to press on