Slaying the Worry Dragon: The Weapon of Choice is Simplicity

Worry is my sin.  That sin I so long to rid myself of, yet find myself battling daily.  I can justify it, yet there is no justification.  I can condemn myself, yet there is no condemnation.  Like Paul of scripture, I ask myself, I ask God, “Why do I do the things I do not want to do?”  It is the nature of our lives.  We all have that sin-the one that becomes our daily struggle.

As I seek to slay the worry dragon I have come to realize simplicity is the key.  For those of us to whom much has been given, much is expected.  Yet along with the much, are things, mindsets that cause us to stumble in our faith.  With good upbringing, strong family ties, come expectations.  We are pushed and we drive ourselves to exceed the financial status of our parents, to exceed the educational levels of our family ancestors, to go beyond, do better.  We call it the American Dream.  Yet, all of that places our mind, our focus upon achievements and things.  Maybe it is my age, maybe it is wisdom gained with age, but whatever the cause, I find myself desiring to do less, be less.  I’d like to return to the days of my forefathers.  Days of gardening, hands stained by dirt, body aching and tired at night.  Days of family gatherings crowded into small, quaint homes. Days of giving beyond means and ensuring family and neighbors have plenty.  The simpler life.  Not an easier life, but a less complicated life.  A life in which things could not take hold, because things were not aplenty.

My scripture reading this morning was in Matthew.  The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount.  If one read only those passages, one would understand who Christ is and how as Christians we are to live.  It becomes clear the weapon for worry is simplicity.  In the midst of the abundance around me, the busyness, the striving, the rush to carry out good deeds in the “spirit of Christmas giving”, God speaks to me yet again through the women I hold dear at Christian Women’s Job Corps.  Women who live a simple life, yet lives complicated by messy families, consequences of poor choices, health issues…

They can not undo their past.  None of us can.  Many of them born into pasts they could not control, inheriting trouble they never asked for/deserved.  Most hurt as children, used as adolescents, and exposed as adults.  Difference circumstances, different hurts, different lives, yet one thing in common.  Each making the decision, finding the resolve to choose to do something different.  Each choosing Christian Women’s Job Corps.  Each seeking to learn about Christ, put Him first.  Each finding joy in walking away from the complicated towards the simple.

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One has walked away from all she owns/had: home, belongings, man.  She has faithfully come soaking up the teachings of the pastors during morning devotion, the words of scripture during Bible study, the life skills taught by women whose lives have been easier than hers.  She has rejoiced weekly in the smallest of victories.  She has taken every word taught and believed it.  She has professed and proclaimed scripture in the midst of battle, believing it would drive Satan out.  She has accepted help with graciousness and humility.  She has found a new home, new friends, new life.  Things, accomplishments, are of consequence.  She has no bed, yet shares with all how well she is sleeping.  She has humble means, yet can’t wait to share. She has seen God provide.  She does not worry for her future.  She trusts.  She trusts Him, the Great Provider, the Healer, the Lord of Lords.

I am humbled when in her presence.  And as I sit in my abundance, clinging to my worry, I am convicted by her life and His words in Matthew.  The words come alive through her story.  Simplicity.  It is in the being, the service done in “the secret place”, the honesty, the letting go, the living life together.  Simplicity slays the worry dragon.  Her days are filled with trouble, enough trouble to fill a lifetime.  She takes each day as it comes, too many troubles to worry about tomorrow.  “Sufficient for the day it its own trouble.”  Matthew 6:34 NIV  She lives the scripture.  I long to live the scripture yet my demons are a complicated life, full of too much.  The too much brings the worry, the striving, the lack of faith.  God brings her into my life, not that I may serve, but that we both might be served.  We love one another, we teach one another.  I share my abundance, she teaches me out of her lack-lack of things, lack of knowledge.  We experience Him.  We experience true worship.  We find each other.  We find ourselves.  In that place, He finds us, we hear Him and know His presence.

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Fear is the Key to Freedom

From Deb @ Breathing in Grace
From Deb @ Breathing in Grace

 

If you’ve read much of my blog you know I struggle with fear and worry.  You also know I am a recovering perfectionist.  I guess it is highly possible the two go hand in hand.  I am so thankful God has chosen to speak to me a great deal about these two things.  Fear.  Worry.  I had convinced myself both were a sin.  Yep, big black, dirty sins.  That would lead to beating myself up over the worry and fear.  And you know how the cycle goes. The beating up, the battle in the mind, leads to more fear and more worry.  It’s really quite exhausting.

I believe all of us have been there.  Some of us just stay there longer than others.  I confess.  That would be me.  The recovering perfectionist.  The one that got to the end of her rope, couldn’t fix the world, much less her extended family, couldn’t do it all, missed the boat on some great chances.  The one living life exhausted and finally tired of living that way.  The one who knew there was more to life than this.  I could regret it all.  I could regret I didn’t learn sooner.  But, what good is that?  It only leads to a renewed cycle of fear and worry.

I am grateful.  I am grateful God’s grace never runs out.  I am grateful each morning is full of NEW mercies.  I am grateful He walks with me.  I am grateful that when we finally release He gives us rest, freeedom.  I am grateful I said yes to letting go of perfectionism.  I honestly thought letting go of perfectionism meant I’d be free of fear and worry.  Not so.  You see, the greatest lesson of all in this process of letting go (and it is a process, don’t kid yourself into thinking you can quit anything cold turkey) has been understanding His truth.  Fear is not a sin.  Fear is a feeling.  God created it.  He created our minds and bodies to respond to it and in those responses we are often protected.    The sin comes in letting fear oppress us, hold us back from obedience and faith.  God knows I fear.  His word says that is okay.  His word tells me He has a plan for fear.  The plan is to keep going WITH Him.  The plan is to acknowledge the fear, to look it in the eye and say, “This fear is real.  But I will not let it win.  I have God with me, in me, around me.  I will walk with Him THROUGH this fear.” Too often I let fear oppress, hold me captive.  That leads to worry.  That leads to inaction.  That leads to nothing good.   God has taught me and reminded me that putting feet to my faith is what matters.  That thing that terrifies me, is most often the one thing needed to move me towards my God given calling.  He never says He will take the fear away.  He never rebukes us for having fear.  He simply says, “Do not fear” and then gives a directive.  For the Israelites it was “do not fear”, put the blood on your doorposts and the angel of death will pass over.  To Abraham is was “do not fear”, gather my people and I will lead you to the promise land.  To Mary it was “do not fear”, go tell Joseph and I will give to you my Son and you shall call Him Jesus, Messiah.  DO NOT FEAR is never a chastisement.  It is always a directive, followed by an action we are to take, followed by a promise.  Fear is not a sin.  Fear is often the propelling force.  It is the force pushing us to greater faith.  It is the force that says, trust me, put feet to your faith and hold on.

The worry thing.  Well, it is a sin.  I am still struggling with it.  It wins most often when I have let fear win.  There is something liberating though in coming to the truth that I need not fear, fear itself.  It’s hard-hard to embrace, but I am getting there.  When fear strikes I am learning to sit, to be still, and to listen intently for His directive I KNOW is to follow.  Then I pray.  I pray for strength to do it, to take the step.  The most beautiful part comes in holding His hand watching for the promise to unfold.

The Worry Sin

I seem to find myself ensnared in this thing called worry.  The worry sin.  It is mixed with a little fear, a little doubt.  Those in and of themselves are not bad, in fact they can be the emotions that spur me on to new places, new depths of understanding, new confidences.  But worry.  How it drains.  It creeps in during the deepest, darkest points of night.  It awakens me from the rest so desperately needed.  It stirs my mind and thoughts go astray.  The fatigue, the stress, the frustration alter the course of the morning yet to come.  The days feel long and the words are not encouraging, loving or grace filled.  The sweet daughter, the one with so much compassion and the gift of mercy, gently whispers to me, “Mom, why so much worry?  Relax.  Tomorrow will come and you can do some more.  Today is good.”  God uses her to speak truth and rebuke to me.  It stings.  Yet, at the same time, it warms my heart.  This young lady I have raised.  She relates to her heavenly Father with complete openness and abandon.  Life is full of hope and tomorrows.  She sees beauty all around her.  She knows the darkness that exists, but she chooses the light and joy.

Most of what I worry about I can not change.  Much of what I worry about has already happened-it is Satan’s tool-regret.  Again, I can not change what has already happened.  The life I live is blessed.  Not easy.  Not void of hardships or heartache.  It is not full of material possessions and financial freedom.  None the less it is blessed.  She, my mercy girl, reminds me.  She reminds me as we drive down the road.  I see traffic, I see the clock ticking.  She sees the single wild flower blooming in the median.  She sees the young child laughing in the car next to us.  She sees hope and anticipation of joy as we approach our next activity.  And I pray.  I pray that I can regain my child like faith.  I pray I can believe the God who redeemed me can redeem my lost moments, my squandered time and the not meant to be veers off the path to His purpose for me.  I pray He gives me the desire and the strength to keep going, no matter what.  I pray to believe, as Holly Gerth so eloquently put it in You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream, “But whatever purpose God has for your dream, he will bring it to pass.  Your job is to not quit no matter what happens.  god will take care of the rest.”  I pray she will hold firm to her God given gift and always choose the light and joy.  I pray she will continue to speak truth, in her gentle and quiet way.

The worry sin.  It is the thorn in my flesh.  It is the sin I do not let go of.  I know I am not alone.  But that does not make it ok.  I can not squander the night with worry.  I can not squander the day with worry.  There is too much to be done.  The worry sin.  It turns my attention to the dark, to the mistakes, to the irritants.  Trust.  Faith.  Those illuminate the dark.  They force my attention on the future and a hope.  It is my choice.

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