Tag Archives: anxiety

Remembering the Wrong Things

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Sometimes we remember the wrong things. The same destructive thoughts go round and round in our heads, driving out God’s peace and presence.  This is not God’s will for us.

When we can’t forget our own sins, and think we have done what can never be forgiven, we are forgetting God’s promise to remove those transgressions from us.  We need to remember His grace.

When we can’t forget the wrongs we have suffered in the past, we are forgetting God’s command to forgive others as He has forgiven us.  We need to remember His mercy.

When we can’t forget that thing we wanted so badly and never got, we are forgetting God’s provision.  We need to remember to give thanks to God for all that we have.

When we can’t forget our failures, we are forgetting God’s omnipotence and His plan.  We need to remember we can trust Him.

When we can’t forget our worries and fears, we are forgetting God’s love.  We need to remember to pour out all our concerns in prayer.

What do you need to stop remembering?

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Life Can be Different

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While on vacation, I read this book which I had picked up at the local thrift store.  It follows a family through several generations of women suffering from mental illness.  Saffee, the final heroine, suffers from growing up in a household with a mother who behaves in bizarre ways and a father who denies that anything is wrong.  Isolation and  anxiety are the result. Saffee becomes afraid to have friends over, cautious of confiding in others and uneasy about her own future.  However, as a young teenager, Saffee hears God’s voice (not audibly, but internally) telling her “Watch….Listen…Learn.  Your life will be different.”

She holds onto those comforting words as she grows up, meets and marries a young man and moves into her first home.  Through her husband, friends and a growing relationship with God and the church, Saffee learns to honor the good things about her mother and appreciate her father’s steadfast loyalty.  She gradually becomes comfortable in revealing her true self to others.  Her life is different from her mother’s ….because of God.

Having grown up with similar family issues, I could identify and appreciate this fictional story.  All of us have “baggage” but we don’t have to keep holding onto it.  We can choose to trust God and let him change us.

“Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you.”  Psalm 55:22

Let’s Get Personal

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I believe that once we become a Christian, and start trying to follow God’s will, He will gradually change us into the person He created us to be (in Lutheran speak, that’s sanctification).  That doesn’t mean our whole personality will do an about face.  It doesn’t mean we’ll be transformed into saints.  It does mean we’ll be more like Jesus, and more gifted, more joyful, more full of life, more peaceful with ourselves and others.

In my own case, the biggest thing God frees me from (I say frees because it still has to happen daily) is fear.  If I were asked to choose one word to describe myself, especially years ago, it would be shy, maybe even timid.  Social situations were not pleasant, but stressful.  I was afraid people wouldn’t like me, that they would discover what a fraud I was, or that I would make a stupid mistake.  Of course, that kept me from trying all kinds of things or taking risks of any kind … who knew what might happen?  It’s not a great way to live.

Becoming a serious Christian helped me to move outside of my comfort zone.  I’m still a quiet introvert (nothing wrong with that, it’s how God made me!) but I have taught Sunday School (children and adults), led workshops and retreats, given talks to groups, organized committees and more. I can use the gifts God gave me in my own way.  I’m not tooting my own horn, just telling you what God can do, because I would NEVER, EVER have done those things without Him.

Am I still afraid?  All the time.  My husband says if there isn’t something to worry about, I’ll invent it.  However, I don’t have to let my anxiety control me. I can step out in faith and take a risk.  A friend of mine once said, “there’s no better place to try something new than at church.  If you fail, they’ll still love you.”  That’s what’s so freeing about being a Christian — you know that no matter what happens, you can never lose the love and Christ.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”  1 Timothy 1:7

What has God freed you from?  We want to hear from you.

 

 

Just Pray

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“Pray and let God worry.”

Martin Luther

I admit it, I’m a worrier.  I fret about things and imagine the worst case scenario.  It’s become a joke with my children:  they call my side of the family “the happy Kaufmans” because we all have a hard time relaxing and having fun (and though my daughters make fun of us, they admit that deep down, they are happy Kaufmans, too). We’re constantly expecting something to go wrong.  This negative mindset(which boils down to a lack of trust in God) seems built into us, and I suspect it’s just part of our sinful nature.  We’re all inclined to sin in particular ways:  it may be genetic (I suspect it is in my case) or it may be learned.  It really doesn’t matter how it got there, the point is it persists and if it isn’t dealt with, it can drive a wedge between us and God.

There’s a remedy for my sin, and it will work for yours, too.  You can probably guess what it is: PRAYER.

Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

If we focus on Jesus instead of our problem (whatever that may be) our minds will be renewed.  We will have peace instead of turmoil;  trust instead of anxiety;  gratitude instead of anger.  Wouldn’t life be so much better if we all would just pray?

How Should a Reborn Christian Think?

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Michele talked about how a reborn Christian should act, but if you spend some time with the Scripture, you will find that not only should we act a certain way, we should think a certain way.  Jesus himself says in Matthew 5:27-28.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

There is a rather well known story about an Indian grandfather and his grandson.  The grandfather tells the child that there are two wolves inside of him:  one is compassionate, generous, loving.  The other is cruel, selfish, angry.  These wolves constantly war within us.  The boy asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”  His grandfather tells him, “the one you feed.”

The thoughts and feelings we feed are the ones that will manifest themselves in our lives.  Lustful thoughts are likely to lead us into lustful actions, maybe even adultery.  Angry thoughts lead to quarrels, division and violence.  Anxious thoughts lead us to distrust everyone, even God.

Of course, there is a remedy for this and it is also in the Scriptures.  Listen to these verses from Romans 8:5-6:

“…those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  To set the mind of the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

Here’s another verse from Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

In case you’re wondering how to set your mind on something, it’s really pretty simple:

.”….whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

If I spend the day thinking about how my husband (or friend, or fellow church member) ignores me, hurts my feelings, doesn’t do what I think he or she should, what will be likely to happen?  Next time I see that person, I will probably let them have it!  I will behave in angry, vengeful ways. Maybe I will gossip about them and try to undermine them with others. If, on the other hand, I dwell on that person’s good traits, and try to understand their behavior in light of their life, I will end up praying for them, being helpful to them,  and even (guess what) loving them!

Once again from Romans (what can I say, it’s the book I’ve been studying)

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit …If the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11

Today I’m going to try to live like the reborn person I am.  I’m going to banish the bad wolf and set my mind on what is right.  I’m going to put on Christ.