Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. Present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4: 6-7
Philippians 4:6-7 is my hope and my prayer. You see, I worry, a lot, and I get anxious easily. You may or may not know this about me, but it is true. I worry about my future plans. I worry about my career. I worry about my education. I worry about my friends. I worry about my family. I worry about my girlfriend. I worry about money. I worry about what people think of me. I worry about being accepted. I worry about finding God’s calling for my life. I worry about what I will do each weekend. I worry about whether I will get all my homework done or not. I worry about getting enough sleep each night. I worry about taking on the right jobs or responsibilities. I worry about being healthy and fit. I even sometimes worry about decisions I have already made. And I don’t know how to stop.
This summer, I talked about the joy of being fully alive. I also experienced the joy of being fully present and engaged in each moment, with few worries to weigh me down. Each day was an adventure of its own, and the only worry was about making it to the top of the next hill, or through the next rapid. It was an environment in which I had no choice but to be fully focused on the present. It was marvelous. I felt closer to God than ever, and I felt very little anxiety. I began to think that maybe I had moved past this worrying thing. It didn’t take long of being back at school to realize this was not the case. As homework piled on, money dwindled down, job opportunities arose, ministries got moving, my mind once again started racing.
Oftentimes, there are days where I find enough to distract me from really thinking about much, but when I lay down at night, a switch clicks on in my brain. All of a sudden, every thought, every dream, every anxiety and fear, every worry comes barreling down on me like a freight train. My heart starts beating faster and my mind runs circles around itself. I will just say certain words in my head over and over, or turn on a podcast in hopes of forcing my brain to quiet down and let myself fall asleep. It’s more frustrating then I can possibly describe. I have started seeking out solutions to my worrying. I started keeping an ongoing to-do list in hopes that being more organized would keep the worries away. Instead I just started running through my to-do lists every night when I would go to bed. I tried to just drown out my thoughts, by filling every hour with something and not letting myself just be still. That only made the problem worse because my thoughts would just compile over the day and explode when I finally had a quiet moment. I turned to exercise, and it helped, but only for a moment. Nothing seemed to really work.
I have totally been missing it. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to the Lord.” There it is. That’s it. In my quest to quiet my thoughts and worries, I seemed to have also quieted that still small voice of God saying, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) I was refusing to take my worries to the God who promises that his peace, “which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I have realized that my worrying problem is really just a not trusting God problem. If I truly believe that God has His hand on my life, and that he has prepared a way for me, and knows the plans he has for me, and if I truly believe what his Word says, then what reason do I have to worry? The God of the universe, who created us and sent his son to die for us, is big enough to take on all our problems, fears, anxieties, and worries. He waits expectantly for us to come to Him, so that He might give us peace that transcends all understanding. Lord, I am ready for that peace.