Monday, May 11, 2009

Pressure and Worry - Are They the Same Thing?

I've never considered myself much of a worrier--at least not in a long time. I have survived some pretty huge life or death issues. Some of those issues continue and are truly life or death. But they are also out of my control, and I can usually (after doing the hard work of wrestling with God) lay them at His feet. Ironically, it's not as hard for me to lay those huge issues at His feet as it is for me to give Him my day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.

I am still laboriously working my way through this tiny book of Chuck Swindol's, "Releasing Worry and Finding Worth as a Woman." Who knew this little booklet could hit me so hard. Well, obviously God knew, that's why he brought me to it at this particular time! I'm on chapter 3, Overcoming Anxiety. In the opening paragraph, Chuck says that anxiety "is running rampant in the lives of Christian women, causing untold destruction and burnout." Hello! Then he begins to analyze anxiety and compare it to worry. That's where I wrote in the margin, "Is the pressure I feel actually worry?" (See last week's post.)

Chuck goes on to quote Philippians 4:4-7, a foundational scripture for me. I've written it on so many index cards. Once, during a particularly difficult time, I moved one of those index cards close to a picture of my son. I kept moving it closer and closer so that every time I would look at his picture and begin to fret, I would also read that scripture. I finally cut out around it so I could tape it directly on the picture! I know what it means to stand on that scripture and claim its promise of peace.

But then Chuck starts talking about how tasks, expectations and pressures cause us to lose perspective and begin to feel anxiety. I'm pretty sure I used at least two of those three words in my last post. Now Chuck really has my attention! Then he has the nerve to say that truly "fruitful people are usually people at peace." Hm. I would not describe my week last week as me being at peace. At least not until Wednesday when I really began to try to figure out why I had no peace!

As I read on in this little book, I began putting words like, oof! pow! and bam! in the margins. Kind of like the old batman show. Chuck just kept hitting me with word pictures that described exactly who I DON'T want to be, but how I have seen myself acting in the past week or two. He wrote things like, "Anxiety siphons joy and moves us from thinking critically to becoming critics." bam! "When worry wins the battle, we take our anxiety out on others." pow! "Eventually, as thorns and thistles (Mark 4:7, 18 & 19) intensify, we become negative, bitter and narrow." whack! That is NOT the person I want to be!

And yet I am not able to make myself conform externally to what I know is right. I try so hard, but when I do, I become syrupy toward people and I know they can see through my conterfeit compassion. That is still NOT the person I want to be! I want to be saturated from the inside out with God's compassion. I want to be authentic in my encouragement of others. I want to be real and allow God's light to shine from deep inside me.

Oh, but there's work to be done! If there were no Marthas and we were all Marys, would anything ever get done? (See Luke 10.) That's the second half of chapter 3. Chuck, you're killing me here!

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!

About Me

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I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother raising her granddaughter. I am blessed with incredible family and friends. I love working for my church and serving on our Women's Ministry Team. I especially want to reach the women who wear their "Everything's fine" smiles on Sunday, but go home to deal with tough real-life issues throughout the week.