What My Worry Says to the Rest of the World

Welcome  I have always been a worrier.  I worry about things from the past and decisions I have made.  I worry about the future and the endless possibilities that can come to me and my family.  I worry about what’s going on around me right now, whether good or bad.  When things are going well, I worry about when “it” all hits the fan and I’m left low and depressed again.  When things are going poorly, I worry about how to handle it and if there will be an upside anywhere in sight.  Can you relate to any of these statements, or are you more like my husband, who can just go with the flow?  I hope you are more like him, because living your life as a worrier is a sad state.  It robs you of the joy and gratitude of all that is good in life.  It’s an act of focusing on the wrong things.  If you happen to be more like me, however, you know very well that just giving up the “lifestyle” of worry is easier said than done.  Worry is our topic for today, along with some of the things I’ve been doing to help myself spend less time in worry.

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Food For Thought  All of my life people have been telling me “don’t worry.”  I say all my life because I basically have been a worrier all my life.  As a kid, I worried about things that were not mine to worry about…my parents’ jobs and bills and health, I worried about my younger brother, I worried about our house and cars, I worried about what other kids thought of me or said about me, I worried about my future adult self…all before I was twelve years old.  My mom was always telling me not to worry, all through my teen years, but it was too late.  I had already set a pattern in my life and that pattern was worry.

Adulthood, of course, brings a whole new set of things to worry about…jobs, apartments, finding a mate, having kids, buying houses, health, insurance, house and car problems.  The pattern of worry has never stopped.  At any given moment I could give you a LIST of things I was worrying about.  By my mid-thirties, all this worry had taken a huge toll on my mental, physical, and spiritual health.  At a doctor’s appointment for a separate issue, my doctor informed me that if I didn’t get my blood pressure and stress under control, I would have a heart attack or stroke by 40.  Knowing my family’s medical history, the odds aren’t in my favor, so I knew it was time to get my worry and anxiety under control.

That was two years ago.  It’s been a long journey, and it’s not over, but my blood pressure has come down dramatically,  I no longer suffer from insomnia, and my panic attacks are fewer and less intense.  I’m happy to say I made these changes without medications.  In these two years I have learned about and adopted a self-care routine, but even more importantly, a “soul-care” routine.  I have a renewed Bible study and prayer life and I’m just now beginning to really understand how my worry has impacted my spiritual life, as well as others.

I say it has impacted others because of something that caught my attention in a Sunday sermon a few weeks ago.  Our morning talk was titled “Why Worry?”  It was no mistake that I needed to hear this message as a series of mini-crises snowballed for our family this summer.  I knew I needed to get my worry back under control.  But one of the first things Joe said in his talk was “What does your worry say to the rest of the world about your God?”  Whoa!  I had never looked at it from that point of view.

I have always claimed a powerful belief in prayer and faith that God takes care of us, but every time I worry, what does that say about my belief?  If I am worrying to the point of an anxiety attack, the rest of the world must be thinking, “She must not really believe God will take care of her or her situation.”  Oh, my!  I don’t want to make that statement with my words or my actions.  Every time I pray but then continue to worry and wring my hands, others might just be thinking, “She doesn’t really have that much faith in her God.”

You see, worry doesn’t just effect me, but it effects the way others view my faith.  I’m supposed to be the salt and the light, but my worry dulls my flavor and dims my light.  My light, through faith, word, and action, is supposed to shine for the rest of the world to see God and glorify Him (Matthew 5:13-16).  I’m not saying it’s easy, especially when these patterns of worry and anxiety have been set in my life for such a long time, but each day, each week, I’m working on having more faith, more trust, more hope, more belief.  Let’s work on it together so we can be WARRIORS, instead of WORRIERS!

Matthew 5:13-16 Bible Journaling page
This is one of my least favorite page completions in my Bible journal, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get a good lesson from my study and journaling time.

 

My Personal Worry Helps  In addition to scripture and strong mentors, I have found the following things to be quite helpful in helping reduce my worry, especially since I know not everyone can quit their job like I did.  My BIG disclaimer is, however, if you struggle with severe anxiety that interferes with your daily activities and care, please see a mental health care professional.  This is real stuff, much bigger than I am trained to help with.

Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado  I cannot promote this book enough!  This book not only helped me address my worry and anxiety from a spiritual perspective, but it also has a study question section that helped me process through a lot of things I deal with, things that are connected to my worry that I didn’t even realize.  I’ve told everyone it’s like “therapy in a book.”  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it!

Gratitude Journal  This is one of those tools that helps focus on all the things going well or right, instead of worrying what might go wrong.  I have linked to the exact journal I use, purchased from Amazon.  It has quotes about gratitude along with some blank pages to write your own gratitudes and other pages with prompts to help think about other areas for gratitude.

Prayer Journal  I like prayer journals because they help me keep a record of not only my requests in prayer, but also I can reflect on the many prayers God has answered positively.  It gives myself reassurance that yes, in fact, God does have this all under control.

Personal Journal It is amazing how much stress and worry I can work through just by writing out all my concerns.  Something about putting pen to paper has a releasing quality.  Of course, you can always pick up any spiral or composition notebook and make it your personal journal.  The benefit comes from the act of writing itself, but if you will be more apt to use your journal if it’s pretty or designated for journaling, then by all means, buy yourself a nice journal!  Just don’t let the idea of buying a journal hold you back from the act of journaling.

Essential Oils  Diffusing lavender has been my favorite for reducing stress and anxiety, but I also used wild orange sometimes, as well.

Today’s Scriptures  So there is a pin going around Pinterest, and carrying over to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, that says the Bible includes the phrase “Do not worry,” or “Fear not,” 365 times.  I’m not sure who originated this saying, and it does sound good, but many people did their homework and found this statement is simply not true.  The phrase in the implied context here shows up in scripture between 80 and 90 times, depending on the translation you are using.  Similar scriptures with different phrasing makes up another 30 or so passages.  There are other places that talk about fear, but in a more negative context.  The accurate counts and explanations are beginning to show in several Bible reference tools and blogs.  One post I read on Musings of a Minister’s Wife talked about how God really should only have to tell us “Fear not,” once.  But perhaps He knew we would struggle so he gave us several more places to look.  Here are my top five favorite verses about not worrying.

 

Today’s DIY  For today’s project I’m going to share one of my favorite passages about not worrying in Bible journaling form.  The passage is Matthew 6:25-34.

1 Highlight the passage you are referencing in your Bible journal.  I love this ESV Journaling Bible from Crossway Publishers.

2 Decide which imagery you want to focus on in the passage.  I chose the bird image because it has the most personal meaning for me.

3 Draw your image with a pencil.  I did free-hand draw my bird picture, but you can trace if you are more comfortable with that.  Many craft and hobby stores now carry stencils specific for Bible journaling.  I have also seen a lot of other journal makers trace images from children’s coloring books.  If you don’t have any coloring books laying around, you can google “free coloring sheets” and get a lot of free printables for whatever image you may be searching for.  I drew the bird and some of the bigger branches and leaves.  I drew out my letters with pencil first.  I did not draw all of the branches, blossoms, or leaves.

4 I used watercolor to fill this particular page.  Before beginning to paint, place a layer of paper towels under the page so any extra liquid will absorb into the towels, rather than bleed to the pages underneath.  Surprisingly, water color does not bleed a lot through these journal pages as long as you don’t use too much water and have at least one paper towel under the page.

5 I used a small fine-tip brush for the lettering, details on the bird for eye, beak, and feet, and also the finer lines of the tree branches.  I used a small round brush to fill in and blend the color.  I just let my brush add additional twigs, leaves, and blossoms where I felt I needed to fill in around the bird.

6 For the bird, I dipped in my watercolor to outline my area of color, then dipped in water to wash the color out to the central part of the picture and blend with other colors.  I did not have a specific bird or flowers I was thinking of for this painting.  I just used colors that made me happy 🙂

7 Aside from the paper towel tip, the other big advice I would give when using watercolor in your Bible is to start at the top of the page and work down.  This is hard for me sometimes, but it really does keep the lower part of your page neater while you work.  My other note is that I try to avoid lots of dark color fill over words, as I do want to be able to read all the scriptures throughout my Bible.  Other than that, don’t be afraid to just START!

Matthew 6:25-34 bible journaling page
Bible journaling page-Birds do not worry, neither should I worry! using pencil and watercolor.