I'm a worrier. And I don't mean that I worry occasionally about big life decisions. I worry about everything... all the time. I've come to learn that my worry comes from fear - a fear of failure, not living up to expectations, not having enough, doing something I'll regret, or disappointing those I love. (You should also know that I'm a people-pleaser.)
Worry has defined my life in many ways. For a long time I was too afraid to take leaps of faith into things that could have been great. I've discouraged J (and dissuaded myself) from pursuing mission trips because of finances. I've lived a life that always followed the rules - which wasn't always satisfying.
We all worry at times. Life is hard and the unknown can be scary, but we have to recognize that worry comes from fear. We can fear many things, but we need to learn to lean on God in those times.
When J moved to Virginia after taking a teaching job, I started applying for jobs as well. We decided that I would remain at my full time job for six months to build up our savings and make the transition to a new place easier. I had done this once before, when looking for my job in PA and had spent months going to interviews and sending in applications. I had knots in my stomach the entire time because I couldn't understand why nothing was happening. At the beginning of this job search, I had those same worries. I spent those six months searching for a new job and never found one - I didn't even receive replies from most places - but eventually I turned my worries over to God.
God may be using your time of waiting to prepare you for something great.
Looking back on it, I can't believe that I was able to relax and let go of this huge unknown in my life. For a long time, I prayed for a job that would use my skills and give me a way to glorify God in my work, but I never even got an interview. Then, my prayers started to change. I started asking God to show me where He was leading me, to guide me to what He had in store for my life. At first, this was hard because I had to let go of the idea that the next step would be a traditional job. I learned to accept that while He might have a job waiting for me, He also might have something else in mind.
I still haven't figured everything out, and I don't know when it will all fall into place, but I’m still searching for the calling that God has for me, and I’m at peace about finding it. I know that He is using this time to teach and train me for what is coming.
We spend so much energy worrying about life that we stop living it. We allow worry into our hearts because our sinful nature tells us that we are in control. But this is a LIE! We are never in control. When we give our lives over to God, we give up control to Him. This is a blessing – how many times do I screw up when I’m trying to control what is going on in my life? God never screws up. He has a plan for each of us and He is working things towards that plan. God knows what we need even better than we do and He promises to provide it. It may not always come from traditional sources – working a 40 hour week or taking out a car loan – He may choose to use the people in our lives instead.
When J decided to go on a mission trip to Haiti with our church, we knew that we would have to dig into our savings to pay for it. But, the church encouraged us to mail out letters asking for support to our family, friends, and church members. We paid the first deposit out of pocket shortly after J’s support letters went out and were trying to figure out how to pay for the rest when God intervened. By the time the second payment was due, his entire balance was paid! We just had to put our trust in God and He did more than we could have ever imagined.
So how do you let go of worry in your own life?
- Stop putting social media on a pedestal, which only promotes fears and insecurities
- Ask yourself whether you can solve the problem or not
- Acknowledge that worry does not give you control
- Accept the worried thoughts and then give them to God
- Learn to accept the things you can’t change
- Designate a specific time to think about worries and find solutions
- Work towards solutions to the worries you can
- Keep busy with things that you enjoy
- Learn and lean on God’s promises
God knows that we worry, but He assures us that He will take care of us.
You must choose to live a life that intentionally focuses on God and His ways instead of fearing what is ahead – or behind, or next door. If you read through the Old Testament you will see so many examples of people who could have – or even should have – been worried from an earthly perspective. But they weren’t because they knew that God was in control.
When Abraham took Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice him, he did not know that God would intervene (Genesis 22). Instead, he trusted that this sacrifice was a part of God’s plan and he leaned on the promises that God had made to him.
When Joseph was in jail in Egypt, he did not worry about his future. He instead worked hard and was treated with favor and was eventually freed because he stayed true and faithful to God (Genesis 39-40).
In the book of Daniel, we see acts of faith carried out repeatedly. These men, especially Daniel himself, could have worried about their situation and what was going to happen, but instead they trusted that God was in control of everything and was working all things for His glory.
Even when it seems hopeless and we are surrounded by trouble, we don't need to worry. Worrying only takes away our ability to see God’s faithfulness in the situation.