Monday, January 17, 2011

Nipping Worry in the Bud

Photo Credit

Worry.  What is it good for?  Absolutely nothing.  (As the old song says about War.)  We may feel like we're accomplishing something by worrying, but we're only making ourselves "sick with worry."  I think women especially think of worry as a form of prayer, but it isn't prayer ... it's doubt, uncertainty, and lack of faith and trust.  It's just plain not good for us.

Prayer has a beginning and an end.  Worry just churns and churns and churns.  Once we're in its grip, it can be difficult to break free.  So how do we "professional worriers" learn to stop worrying?  Here's what I've been working on for myself.  It seems to me:

We need to have the desire to give up worrying.  It can be such a part of us that it becomes a favorite pastime.  Once we have the desire, we must patrol our thoughts so that we realize when we're worrying. As Joyce Meyer says, we need to think about what we're thinking about.

We need to have the intent to give up worrying ... the mindset and determination to change our habit.  We have to "get serious."  Otherwise even when we realize we're worrying we won't attempt to change our course.

Lastly, we need a plan of action to help us defeat the worry habit ... and then we act.

The first step in my plan of action when I realize I'm worrying is to look to God and say something like:  "God, I can't deal with this right now, and I don't want to think about it anymore.  I can't cope with all this worry, so I'm giving this situation to You, God, to watch over, because it's too much for me."  Saying those words (silently or out loud) is the hand-off of my worry from me to God.  I am no longer carrying the ball.  So at this point how do we keep from taking the ball back?

Here's the rest of my plan of action:  I then go about my business as usual, but immediately begin utilizing my tools (my arsenal) for overcoming negative thoughts.   As I've said before, my most successful tool is singing spiritual songs to myself (see here and here).  I completely trust the Holy Spirit to bring the songs into my mind that He wants me to sing.  Along with that, if you prefer, there is reciting memorized Scripture, and saying what we're thankful for.  It may all seem silly, but it works.  Especially the singing.  Singing to ourselves will displace our worrisome thoughts and keep them at bay until our minds become engaged with something wholesome and beneficial-- whether that's being occupied with our work, family, a hobby, etc.

So each and every time we discover we're worrying, we "flick the switch" to Off by telling God we're giving our worry, and whatever we're worrying about, to Him and then proceed to use one or more of our tools to ward off more worry.

The above also applies well to and, for me at least, defines the phrase "Let Go and Let God."  I used to think that was all well and good for someone to say that, but how did one do it?!  I think being a control freak can be due in large part to worry-- the same doubt, uncertainty, lack of faith and trust, that things will turn out the way we want them to unless we stay in control.

I'm sure there are other great methods for overcoming worry, but any method is going to take our vigilance and perseverance.  I'm not where I want to be yet, but I keep practicing and I'm seeing progress.  I really think the more (and the longer) we immerse ourselves in God's Word, adore our Lord Jesus, and strive to relinquish control to God, overcoming worry and negative thinking becomes easier.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life (or a single cubit to your height)?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Luke 12:25,26

Happy Birthday, Son o' Mine
Bess

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Add a Little Coloring to Your Life

If you want a relaxing and rewarding pastime that makes no demands, you might try coloring in a coloring book!  As adults we can feel free to indulge in coloring, without feeling silly or self-conscious, by using colored pencils (or markers if the coloring book allows) and better quality coloring books.  Dover publishes a wide variety of coloring books suitable for adults.  They are inexpensive and good quality.  However, I haven't purchased one in quite awhile (but I intend to), so the drawings may be printed on different paper these days (as so many current books are).

These photos are of a Hallmark coloring book I bought in the early 1970s.  In the weeks immediately following my kidnapping, I found some relief from my thoughts by working with ceramics (free of charge as a gift from a kind lady who wanted to help me), and also coloring with colored pencils.

Over the years I've colored in a few other "grown-up" coloring books, but would give them away to children/young adults who needed something to do and were fascinated by the "fancy" coloring books I showed them.  But the little Betsey Clark coloring book I've guarded all this time as a keepsake.  The cover was done in pastels, so that's how I colored the pages.  There are just a few I haven't colored, so sometime, when the time is right, I want to finish coloring the rest.

I pulled the dainty individual ashtrays from the buffet drawer to use as paper weights for my photos.  They were my mother's and are probably from the 1950s or 60s, when smoking was still in vogue.  They have sweet little violets on them.  (My memory was full, so maybe sometime I'll post the rest of the pages in this precious little book.  I hope to get a better camera someday, but for now these photos have to be small so they won't be too blurry.)

I've added a few of the Dover coloring books on my Amazon widget, but you can do a search and find many more to choose from.  If you want a calming, pleasant way to divert unwanted thoughts and soothe your spirit, give coloring a try!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27 

Finding peace in whatever wholesome way I can,
Bess

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Enjoying Everyday Life (A TV Program with Joyce Meyer)




In 2005, after a routine surgery, I spent a couple of days in ICU while my heart settled down.  It was during that hospital stay, while flipping through channels, that I came across Joyce Meyer's TV show.  (It may have been called Life in the Word then.  I'm not sure when she renamed it.)  I'd read some of her books by then, but had never seen her TV program because I didn't have cable at home.

I was very pleasantly amazed!  I laughed out loud more than when I watched any sitcom ...  she had a fun sense of humor and told stories I could identify with.  At other times what she had to say moved me to tears.  I discovered that Joyce Meyer is a wonderful speaker and Bible teacher ... even better than in her books, which I think are often very good in themselves.

I am not associated with Joyce Meyer in any way whatsoever, but I just wanted to share that I think there are very few people that wouldn't benefit from watching her program.  She truly has received a gift from God in communication, writing and speaking at a level easily understandable.  And she's a practical Bible teacher ... meaning she not only tells what the Bible says, but she tells how we can use biblical truths to improve our lives.  So she shares not only what to do, but often shares how to do it. 

I finally hooked onto cable three years ago, but since her program came on at 5 or 5:30AM, my getting up early enough to watch it was very hit and miss.  But eventually she turned up on Discovery at 8AM Eastern, 7AM Central, which was doable for me, and I've tried to watch her program faithfully ever since.

Of course, not every individual Joyce Meyer program is going to speak to our hearts in a big way, but it's like what they say about going to a new church:  Try it three times (at least) before you decide it's not for you.  You can also catch up on past shows (or ones you miss) at joycemeyer.org.  I think you'll learn much.  She speaks on a variety of topics, and you can check out her upcoming topics on her website.

Anyway, watching Joyce Meyer and reading her books has been very helpful to me in my quest to overcome negative thinking, so it's my hope you might find her helpful, too.  And of course, most important, let's not neglect to read our Bibles firsthand!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves
receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3,4

Rereading Battlefield of the Mind
and still finding it helpful,
Bess