The new year brings with it lists of ambitions, goals and resolutions. It can be quite daunting when you think about all the things you plan and hope to do in 2014. Here we are in early January, and I already have anxiety over certain things. One big thing, mainly. I have five months to plan a wedding!
My fiance lives about an hour and a half away, and along with all the wedding planning, we’ve been job hunting in preparation for his move to my town. We have much to do before May! It’s easy to stress over plans and all the things I need to do even aside from planning. My biggest battle is anxiety, and I worry about things sometimes that aren’t necessary. I add to my own stress by worrying about stress. It can become a vicious cycle if you let it.
I’ve been intentionally trying ways to rid my mind of anxiety, and they seem to be helping. Normally I would pray and then go for a walk until I calmed down, but I’ve been trying some new things. Even if you aren’t prone to worry, the first two tasks on my list will be good additions to your life regardless.
1. Read Scripture daily. This one is important for those of us who find ourselves too busy or too tired to keep up with reading Scripture as often as we should. I’ve been intentional about working on this one lately, using the new year as an opportunity to jump in on a year-long Bible reading plan.
When I don’t read Scripture much, I tend to worry more. I forget about the hope and peace I have in Jesus and let my anxious thoughts take over more than they should. But when I do read my Bible daily, I can replace anxious thoughts with Scriptures about hope and peace. We are, after all, called to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV). How can we do that if we’re not familiar with Scripture?
2. Pray often. I like to combine prayer with reading Scripture. My prayers are more focused when I’m praying Scripture and praying about the Scripture I read every day. While Scripture prayers help us focus more on God, don’t confine your prayers to this. When you find yourself worrying about something, commit it to God in prayer. Philippians 4:6 tells us to “be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
3. Talk about it. If praying alone doesn’t seem to work for you, share your struggles with others and ask them to pray with you. It works wonders to talk about our burdens with our brothers and sisters in Christ. They can encourage us and pray for us.
Keeping everything inside only adds to the stress, but sharing your feelings with a close friend or family member can remove some of the anxiety. Something that really helps me is meeting someone face-to-face over lunch or coffee to talk. It’s better than a Facebook message, text or even a phone call sometimes.
The more I read my Bible, the more I pray and the more I share my concerns with those close to me, the less I worry and the more strength I gain to fight my battles. I continually remind myself that the ultimate battle is already won. We are set free from the chains of fear and anxiety, and we have endless peace in Christ.
What are some of the things you do to ease your mind when you start to worry?