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 (see here).
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?
Happy Birthday, Son o' Mine