Does worry tend to steal your awareness of awe and wonder? Me too. It creates reverberating ripples of anxiety which eat away at our confidence and erode joy. We forget to look up and be amazed at the ordinary-extraordinary.
A lot of the time I remain blissfully unaware I am worrying, putting my stress down to profound fatigue and illness, until one more unwanted thing happens and I blow it all out of proportion.
Worry and anxiety reveal we’re probably not fully trusting God with everything, so accustomed have we become at coping alone. They also indicate failure to take our cares and concerns to Him immediately in prayer.
During this Advent season, when the words love, hope, joy and peace are frequently on our minds, it’s hard to admit to not always feeling that way as we write or speak. We soon realise we won’t find peace in possessions, presents, a lack of pressing problems or a checked off ‘To Do’ list, but we will find lasting peace in the person of Jesus.
How can we achieve inner peace and joy when there’s so much for us to potentially worry about? Worries will only wear us out unless we learn to discern, prioritise, pray, be patient, delegate and rest.
It begins with honest awareness and confession, then looking to see where our major focus lies. For instance, I don’t have to fixate for long on my physical pain before it feels more intrusive and overwhelming than before.
What our hearts and minds focus on most will tend to define our days. Allowing our souls to become saturated with worry and stress is a surefire way to lose our peace and happiness. Our bodies seize up tense with anxiety and fear, hearts beat faster and breath becomes rapid and shallow. It’s not healthy to stay in a state of heightened adrenaline, or we risk burnout.
But if we seek to focus most on God’s daily grace gifts instead, remind ourselves of His wonderful provision for our every need, His utter faithfulness, trustworthiness and deeply loving care, then we can assist ourselves to rest and relax while dealing with our current circumstances.
What helps to restore calm is to saturate our souls with Scripture instead of stress, and take several small, deliberate pause moments throughout the day, where we slow our breathing down, still our racing thoughts and turn our hearts toward God in contemplation and listening prayer.
We can learn to establish a life rhythm that makes room for interruptions (holy and otherwise) and creates space for sensing grace. We can better witness God’s hand at work in the everyday, His breath of Life giving us renewed hope and strength each morning.
We can find a way to breathe freely again, because we trust in God and His constant care, rest in His love and pursue the peace which only He can give, the sustaining grace He offers for every difficulty we may encounter.
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will displace worry at the centre of your life” ~ Philippians 4:6-7 The Message
How do you find peace when worries pervade? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Here’s a link to a book on rhythms of rest that has helped me a lot as I’ve implemented its practices. And here is a prayer you can pin and share…