Somewhere nearby, a dog sits in his backyard barking all. the. time. As you might imagine, this annoys the neighbors and upsets households for blocks. But instead of getting angry, I find myself feeling really sorry for him. The truth about his beautiful boy is this: he’s an anxious dog who is in serious need of some solid training and attention (and maybe even a little dose of tough love…). I know he’s bothersome to many people, but I just try to keep it in mind that his behavior is a result of an owner who doesn’t know how to take care of him or how to deal with his anxiety.
I’ve experienced times and seasons of anxiety in my life and it occurs to me that perhaps this pretty baby isn’t so different than many of us humans who also feel sad and anxious. We all just want to feel better, you know? Maybe we’ve been “barking” and crying for help for years, and even those closest to us didn’t hear us (or didn’t know how to). All this barking to simply say – “I don’t feel good. I feel worried. Take care of me. Help me. Bring me inside so I can feel safe because I can’t do that for myself right now.”
Worry exaggerates reality and makes us do one of several things: we fight; we flee; or we freeze.
“Fighting” most often takes the form of trying to control the situation with a sense of force, which is just a nice way of saying manipulation, and – let’s be honest here – nothing good comes from that.
“Fleeing” when we’re worried just prolongs the inevitable, because life has a way of catching even the swiftest of us.
And “freezing” creates a whole set of problems in itself, because we cut ourselves off from anyone and anything that could possibly help, and end up isolated and alone in our pain.
None of these options deals with the worry. Instead, all of these options turn our attention onto ourselves and our situations and they distort the truth, so we’re left feeling hopeless in the midst of the anxiety.
But what if we added one more option to those choices? What if we built on everything we’ve learned so far here in our simpl.if.I series and added a “Don’t Worry” card to our deck?!
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly tells us not to worry! In my favorite verse of all time (you’ll be reading it in it’s entirety this week), Jesus reminds us that worrying doesn’t do anything productive. It keeps us from living in the moment, prevents us from fully experiencing God’s blessings, and moves our focus off Him and onto ourselves.
But trusting God? Well, that is productive! It gives us freedom. Freedom to live boldly, with hope and peace, covered in True Love, even when life tries to tell us otherwise.
So back to my neighbor’s barking dog. What if this dog’s master was able to bring him inside, provide structure, love, and discipline, and training? What if the Master were to show him the freedom in trusting Him? How would that look from his heart’s perspective?
I think that’d look like one contented, peaceful pup!
Lord, meet me at the back door when I’m barking and usher me into Your peace. Teach me to fight the urge to manipulate, flee, and freeze and remind me of the freedom I have in You. Give me courage to stand up to the lies that “worry” tries to tell me. Instead, show me how to listen only to Your Truth: that you love me, have good plans for me, that You will never leave me, and that I am Yours forever. You are so rich in your mercy, Father. Thank you.
Practical Application: (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take so you learn not to worry!):
1. Find/print our mantra/scripture card for this week: Don’t Worry!
2. Read this portion of Matthew 6 to get our verse in context! Such good and meaty truth in here, sweet friends!
3. Call out your worry! Make a list of things that cause you to either fight, flee, or freeze and then CROSS THEM OUT! Instead of letting them control you, spend time placing them in God’s hands through prayer and through meditation on His goodness and His ultimate control and concern for you – you ARE the one He loves!!!
4. Watch this music video for the beautiful song, “Shoulders”, by For King and Country!
If you are reading before amen with us (by the wonderful Max Lucado!) it’s time to read Chapter 4: “I Need Help”, because, really, who doesn’t?! If you have time and energy, complete the study guide for the chapter at the back of the book!
Have a great week, sweet friends! Know I am praying for YOU this week to break free of whatever is worrying you! TRUST God and KNOW freedom! Don’t Worry! 😉
Peace, love, and JOY!
Up Next Week: simpl.if.I week 6 (yes, we are onto the second half of the series…!): Be Real!
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION at a level which is disruptive to your daily routine and/or impairing your ability to function, I urge you to PLEASE call your doctor right away. If you are feeling like things are hopeless and life is not worth living, please call 911 immediately. You are important, you are cherished and loved, and you have so much more to say and do for this world! Help IS literally one phone call away. I am praying for you.