How do you stop worrying? I mean really, you’ve got a mess on your hands and you can’t just turn off your thoughts about it. Is it even realistic to think you could ever not worry?

I assure you, it is.

In fact, when has worrying ever been successful for you personally? Really, has worry ever made a single situation in your life better? Has worry ever solved a problem for you? Have you ever walked away from a worry fest and thought to yourself, “wow, I feel so much better now that I’ve worried myself sick and considered every possible bad scenario and how painful it would be.”

Never. That has never happened.

Yet, somehow we are tricked into falling into the ghettos of worry all over again. Why is that?

If you had driven down a road before and you knew for certain it didn’t lead to where you wanted to go, why would you keep trying to get there on that road? That would be ludicrous. Here, I’m going to try this road that only goes East and West when I want to go North. I’ve tried this road several times in the past and I know it won’t come anywhere close to taking me where I want to go today, but I’m familiar with this road and the ghettos it takes me through, so I’m choosing it again. And here you are driving through the ghettos again, never getting where you want to be, only to turn around and end up right back where you started only more exhausted and frustrated.

And worry is the equivalent of getting up the next day and taking that same darn wrong road through the ghettos again, never getting where you want to go, with full awareness it can never get you there. That road will never lead anywhere different, so honey, why do you keep choosing it.

Worry does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace. Worrying doesn’t stop the bad stuff from happening, it just stops you from enjoying the good. You know that, but dang how do you stop that? I’m so glad you’re listening today. This is for you!

Worry is a choice. I can choose to worry about it. I can choose to play out horrible scenarios in a flash and my body will literally feel the pain of all I have imagined. Has this been your choice? Worry?

Worry triggers the natural “fight or flight” response in your body. Fight or flight prepares your body to either battle for your life, or run for your life. Your thoughts create physical reactions, whether the imagined scenario is really happening or not. Your brain cannot distinguish between a real threat or an imagined threat created by worry, and it triggers your body to respond the same. The wiring within your brain responds to any perceived threat by kicking on your sympathetic nervous system. Suddenly, you breathe different and a rapid release of hormones is released into your bloodstream.

Your heart races. Not because you’re physically swimming away from a shark, but because you imagined a shark. Your thoughts send stress signals to your brain, which then triggers your adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and cortisol. In a real life scenario, this would help you swim away from that shark with supernatural speed, but because there isn’t actually a shark and you’re not even freaking in the water, you have a racing heart that is simply exhausting you. These stress hormones keep you in a constant state of high alert and anxiety because it would be important to know the shark is circling. BUT THERE IS NO SHARK and you’re exhausted all because you were worrying about it.

You feel worn out? Yip, that’s what worry does. And now, where’s your energy to actually do anything about getting back in the boat and heading to shore? You have none, because you’ve been freaking out over sharks.

All of these stress hormones released by worry keep you from sleeping good, they create tense and achy muscles, one really volatile stomach with the potential to ruin any happy moment with a single gurgle, and a body that is constantly getting sick because your immune system is exhausted from the continual “fight or flight” response your worry has created.

Any of this sound familiar, Sis?

Please understand, this is not God’s good plan for your life. It is not his will that you would be consumed with worry over sharks when you are landlocked in the midwest. I know that sounds extreme, but isn’t that what we do when we sit and worry about things we can’t control, things that may not even be happening, things that are most of the time simply imagined scenarios in our head that never even unfold.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been walking through the shark infested waters of a life threatening condition in the life of someone I care about. I’ve never met them in person, but there’s a precious woman named Aime who was once a podcast listener, now I have the honor of mentoring her. She reached out to me and asked for prayers for her husband Robbie, who was very sick and awaiting a life saving kidney transplant.

Every day I’ve prayed over Amie and Robbie as they waited. Not one time was Amie stressed or overwhelmed. Every single time, without fail, she shared with me the absolute peace they were dwelling in. They fully trusted God was in every detail and they were taken care of.

On Monday morning at 3 am, I received a text from Amie that a kidney match was made and Robbie would be getting his kidney that day. I began receiving selfies of the two of them in the hospital smiling and joking, with nothing but joy and excitement when the offering of worry and fear was clearly on the table. But worry wouldn’t take them where they wanted to go. Worry would create stress in Robbie’s body that would physically hinder every ounce of good a new kidney could offer.

I’m overwhelmingly happy to report Robbie miraculously went home yesterday with a fully functioning kidney, and a mind that is still not worried.

This offering is here for us too! Every single one of us, regardless of circumstances, can choose peace over worry. We can choose a different road that doesn’t take us through the ghettos again. We can choose to stop the circling sharks in our head. And God’s word beautifully tells us how.

Philippians 4: 6-7 MSG “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying (so this is the offering of a different road, an intentional exchange), pray. (Yes, you can pray instead of worrying. The next verse tells us how to pray instead of worry.) Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. (A petition is a formal request. Lord, I am asking you for this. I am appealing to you asking for your power to be allotted in this specific direction. And not only that, I am praising you, meaning I am focusing on all you have done and all you can do. I’m thanking you. I’m dwelling in gratitude, focused on you God. I’m taking all my concerns and I’m laying them at your feet. Doing this creates a radically different response within your body. You physically feel the difference. And here’s how the next verse explains it. “Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Did you know Jesus wants to displace worry from the center of your life? He wants to change how you process your negative circumstances. He wants to give you a sense of wholeness instead of a sense of lack. He wants to show you how everything is coming together for good, and let it settle you down so you can sleep again, so you can wear white with confidence again, so you won’t be an edgy hag, so you won’t constantly be getting sick, so you won’t feel so overwhelmed and exhausted and on edge.

He has that power and he wants to unleash it in your life. And he will, if you do your part. Your part is simply allowing your petitions and your praises to shape your worries into prayers. Not into venting. Not into fretting. Not into excessive planning. Not into overthinking. Not into depression. No, God wants to shape your worries into prayers. And those prayers create this sense of God’s wholeness and you then settle down.

You can experience this wonderful awareness of Jesus taking care of every detail. It’s possible, regardless of what has been worrying you and how long you have been worrying about it.

God wants to take you off the road of worry and get you out of the ghettos of anxiety. That’s no place for his treasured girl.

Talk to him about your concerns. Let that conversation shape your worries into prayers. Then comes that peace like Amie and Robbie had in the middle of total crisis and life altering dangerous scenarios, that just settles you down and takes worry out of the center of your life. Just as your body physically responds to worry, your body also physically responds to peace.

Ahhhhh, settle down, girl. Talk to Jesus about this.

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