We have a family dog. He’s a pure bred German Shepherd named Jackson, he’s five and a half years old and he sheds. A lot. I need to sweep my floors everyday in order to keep them hair free. There are definitely moments when I wish he wasn’t so furry but, alas, I love the mangy mutt.
He’s also very loyal and affectionate. He follows me room to room around the house, rarely leaving me out of his sight. He likes to make sure I’m okay. When I sit down on the couch to write or read he likes to plop down right beside me, sometimes even half on top of me. A 95 pound beast who thinks he’s a lap dog. He takes his job very seriously. One other thing I’ve noticed, he seems to be rather care free. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by much. When the boys are in school and it’s just me and him, he just lies around , soaking up the day. He doesn’t come to me, wondering when we’re going to be going outside next so he can use the “washroom facilities”. He’s just come to expect it on a regular basis. He also doesn’t frantically pace back and forth in front of his food dish, worrying when it’s empty. He knows by now that in the moments that he is hungry, there will be food there to fill him and water there to quench his thirst. Over the last 5 1/2 years of his life, an understanding and trust has been implemented between he and I that I, as his owner/master/fur mama, supply and take care of everything he needs. Therefore, he has no need for anxiety or worry. I envy him.
I wish I could be more like that. Living this life worry free. Free from stress and anxiety. I can tell you that as a single mom of 9 1/2 years now, there have been plenty of moments of wondering a lot of things. Wondering how to pay the bills, feed the kids, getting all the necessary supplies for back to school, field trips etc. So many spinning plates that you just expect to lose your balance at any moment as everything comes crashing down all around you. It’s a lot to shoulder all on your own; worry can be inevitable.
The dictionary defines worry as: To give way to anxiety or unease; to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.
“To give way to” and “to allow” are both permissive phrases. That means that when we worry, we are allowing or giving permission for it to be there. Think about that for a moment…
There is a phrase that I love and I am sure many of you have heard it as well. It says, “You can’t prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair.”
There are situations and thoughts all around us that are vying for your attention, to strip you of your peace and joy. Worry, depression and anxiety are siblings, triplets from hell itself, that seek a room for rent in your mind. And they don’t demand much space. At first.
All they need is a thought. Just one brief, paralyzing moment of weakness to slither it’s way in and plant itself into the fertilized soil of your mind. Then, over time, as it begins to take root and grow and feed off of your emotions, it starts to demand more time…more space…more attention until it’s wrapped and entangled itself around you so tight that it has now become your master and there is no room for anything else.
In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus himself, tells us not to worry. Like, it’s actually a command. He commands us not to worry. As in, just don’t do it. Period. It might as well be the 11th commandment. “Thou shalt not worry.” Because when we worry, we’re saying “I don’t trust you so I’m gonna handle it on my own. I don’t need you. I am my own god. My emotions are my master, not You”. When we permit worry to take root, it’s a slap in the face to the One who came to set us free from the very thing we allow to entangle us.
I have had to deal with this in my own life and I can tell you this from my own personal experience, any time I have had anxiety, worry or depression in my life, it was when I took my eyes off of Jesus. When I stopped immersing myself in His promises and authority that I have a right to. It was when I allowed my emotions and feelings to call the shots rather than taking authority and telling my emotions and feelings to sit down and shut up. Recognizing who I am in Christ, and what my rights are as his daughter, is the defining factor for me. It makes all the difference in the world.
Now this doesn’t mean that those “birds” still don’t try to rear their ugly heads from time to time and fly overhead looking for space. They’re definitely resilient little buggers and if I’m not careful and watchful they can still pack a punch. But the difference now is that I can recognize it for what it is and call it out and say, “Nope! I see you! Not happening!”
I get to choose who and what I rent space out to in my own head. If it contradicts the peace and the joy that I am entitled to because of Jesus, it gets an eviction notice! I don’t have to tolerate anything less. And neither do you!
God knows what you need even before you ask of it. If he dresses the flowers of the field and cares for the birds of the air, how much more precious are you and I to Him? How much more will He care for you and I? Therefore, there is no need for worry. It is far too heavy a burden for any one person to carry. If Jesus commands us not to worry, it’s because He knows how damaging and ruthless it is. He loves us too much to see us going through life that way. But it is our choice.
What are ways we can choose Joy in the midst of despair?
What are ways we can choose Peace in the midst of chaos?
How can we recognize unhealthy thoughts and take action to “evict” them?
What are ways we can put our focus off our feelings/situations and back onto Jesus?