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Entries in Anxiety (6)

Thursday
Jun272019

Fears, Fears ... Go Away!

Dawn Wilson is the creator of Upgrade with Dawn. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she gets honest about her fears and how the Lord has encouraged her to confront them with His truth.

I argued with the Lord a bit.

“I’m not a fearful person; I know better than that.”

But the Lord pressed a few examples into my thoughts and I had to admit, I was filled with more fears than I thought.

When my children were small, I feared for their safety. Then they grew up and I found out—once a mama, always a mama—I still had fears for their safety. And I added my grandchildren to that fear list too! I was afraid of my husband’s safety in his many travels too.

Many fears have come, but I’ve suppressed them all rather than dealing with them biblically.

Then, this past January, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Talk about fears!

Somehow, that first day in the hospital, I kept repeating a verse I learned long ago: “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).

Still, my mantra from February through late April was pretty much, “Fears, fears… go away!”

All that time, my cancer treatment wasn’t working, and I became anxious and afraid.

Maybe I going to only live a year, I thought. I started downgrading my priorities list to something simpler and more manageable. What would I want to accomplish if I only had one year to live?

I started developing a plan, and the only time I cried was when I thought of leaving my family members.

Thankfully, in early May, my oncologist decided to upgrade my cancer treatment. He prescribed a super-expensive drug, which the Lord graciously covered for almost five months through a nonprofit grant.

But my fears that the drug wouldn’t work—or that it would tank my hemoglobin, one of the oncologist’s concerns—continued.

Beneath the surface ... subtle fears. But fears that still had a grip on my heart.

In many ways, I was trying to trust the Lord through all this. I chose to praise and worship Him. I wrote about my struggle on Facebook. I tried to be honest about how I was trying to overcome my fears; and many friends—I call them #TeamDawn—encouraged me.

  • "You're in God's grip."
  • "I'm praying God will completely heal you."
  • "Keep trusting!"

Most people praised me for being a good example. They recognized the battle, but also some of my victories in trusting God.

Yet the toxic thinking continued. Especially in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep.

And then around Mother’s Day, one of my daughters-in-love, Tracy, gave me a book. Switch on Your Brain by cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf,* who is also a Christian. It's heavy-duty science, but fascinating to realize how science is catching up with the Bible!

The book affirmed me in all that I’ve taught for many years: As we think, so we come to believe, and so we choose. My ministry, Heart Choices Today, is built on that simple-yet-profound concept.

We build our thoughts, choices and habits based on what we’re thinking.

As I read the book, the Lord began to speak to me about my toxic thinking and the fears and anxieties that wouldn’t seem to go away no matter how I wished them to leave.

There was a lot at stake! And Dr. Leaf made a strong case:

She wrote that fear alone triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses in our bodies, activating more than 30 different hormones.

Left unchecked, toxic thoughts (like fear) create ideal conditions for illnesses.

I figured "unchecked" fears weren't going to help me battle my illness!

So I decided to do what the book recommended. I'm a writer, but I don't journal. Yet using Dr. Leaf's processyou'll have to get the book to read about that—I began a 21-Day Detox to confront my anxious thoughts and fears. I chose scriptures to study and I am memorizing key verses to make them a deeper part of my life—replacing toxic thinking with strengthening, biblical truth.

It's an ongoing process, but here are some things I've already discovered during my Detox from the scriptures I'm studying.

  1. Fear does not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7). It is a learned response.
  2. God gives me a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (also 2 Timothy 1:7). A sound mind is right thinking!
  3. It is possible to be in “bondage” to fear—or any other fleshly attitude (Romans 8:15). This verse is talking about fear we suffered before knowing Christ, but now we have a Heavenly Father, and the Spirit does not make us “slaves” to fears.
  4. God’s presence, strength and help allow us to not be fearful (Isaiah 41:10). He’s got a firm grip on me!
  5. Whenever we are afraid, we can choose to trust the Lord (Psalm 56:3-4). That was the only verse I could remember in the hospital in January—but it was enough!
  6. God will never leave or forsake me, and because of that, He wants me to be “strong and courageous” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  7. I can cast all my burdens, including fearful times, on the Lord, and He will sustain me— strengthen, support and encourage me, and cheer me up! (Psalm 55:22).
  8. I don’t need to be afraid of bad news (but instead need to live in light of the “good news”); and when I think rightly, my heart will be firm and steady, not afraid (Psalm 112:7-8).
  9. I don’t need to be fearful or anxious about anything, but instead, I can pray about everything, with thanksgiving, and God will give me His peace… and He will then guard my heart and mind in Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
  10. Like a loving father with a trusting child, God holds my right hand; and He is the One who helps me (Isaiah 41:13).
  11. The peace Jesus gives us is not like the world’s concept of peace (John 14:27). Though some of the world’s solutions may work if they are based on biblical truth—whether they give God credit or not—Jesus’ peace is a gift from Him, and an answer to my fears.
  12. When fears and anxiety arise in me, I can turn to the Lord and His consolation (comforting) will restore my joy (Psalm 94:19).
  13. God expects/commands me to “be strong and courageous” and not afraid (Joshua 1:9)—because He is with me.
  14. God redeemed me and I am His. Like the children of Israel, I never need to fear that I am forgotten (Isaiah 43:1).
  15. Anxiety and fear is like a heavy weight in the emotions, but a “kind word” of encouragement from God (or others) can cheer the heart (Proverbs 12:25). (I am so thankful for my #TeamDawn prayer warriors and encouragers!)
  16. I don’t need to worry or fear about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34); I need to live in day-tight compartments. God is already in my tomorrows.
  17. I can cast (throw) all my fears and anxieties on the Lord, knowing He cares about me and what I’m going through (1 Peter 5:7).
  18. Even if I must walk through the darkest valley—the “shadow of death”—I do not need to fear, because God is and will be with me to protect and comfort me (Psalm 23:4).
  19. The Lord is my light and salvation, my stronghold—whom (or what) shall I fear (Psalm 27:1).
  20. God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1); and verse 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God….” I am challenged to be still and know my “refuge more.”
  21. When I seek the Lord, He responds; and He wants to deliver me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).
  22. When I call out to God, He answers and He is with me in my troubles (Psalm 91:15), rescuing me and honoring me (for trusting Him).
  23. The Lord doesn’t want me to worry about the details of my life (Matthew 6:25), but He is concerned about those details. He will provide, but He wants me to know there is more to life than what’s going on with my body.
  24. I can be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (Ephesians 6:10)—and He gives me the tools for standing strong (the Armor of God, vv. 11-18).
  25. I want the peace of Christ to rule in my heart (Colossians 3:15). I will subject my fears to His control and be thankful for His loving Lordship in my life.

Obviously, I’m going beyond the recommended 21-Day Detox. I want to continue building positive reinforcement thoughts into my life. I want right thinking, godly thinking about my fears, to become my new habit of life.

This is what Paul means when He writes of “renewing the mind” (Romans 12:2) instead of following the unhealthy “pattern” of this world. Scientists are finally beginning to see the brain as having "renewable" characteristics. Biblically, a renewed mind is a Word-founded, Spirit-controlled mind—and from our mind, our thoughts, come our beliefs, choices and habits.

It's the best way I know to make the fears go away ... or at least to confront them God's way.

Is fear a biggie in your life? Or is it something else? Begin now to replace toxic thinking with biblical thinking.

(*NOTE: You might want to read the book I recommended, Switch On Your Brain—there is also a workbook if you want that—to understand how the brain works from a scientific viewpoint, and rejoice that science is finally catching up with God’s truth about our thinking!)

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts, and a writer at Christianity.com (wiki posts) and Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of M. McKein at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Sep112018

Worryectomy

Kathy Carlton Willis knows how to turn the everyday circumstances of life—even crisis situations—into  opportunities to trust God. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she deals with the bothersome problem of worry; and it's a perfect topic for today as we think back to a crisis in America that changed so many lives: America's 9/11.

“On this day we reflect back to September 11, 2001, our country continues to experience many different types of unrest," Kathy says. "In addition, we daily fight fears of doubt and worry regarding our personal lives. To live a life of peace and joy, we need to undergo a worryectomy from time to time.”

I (Dawn) grew up with a "worrier," and I "caught" the disease of worry. I know what Kathy says is true!

Kathy continues . . .  

When I was 19, newly married, this smalltown girl had to adjust to my college town. Springfield, Missouri, was the third largest city in Missouri.

Besides taking 20 credit hours of school and being involved in youth ministry, I also worked part-time. I used $500 from a scholarship to buy a 1969 Chevy pick-up truck. I looked like Farmer Jane!

During the Christmas season, my job at Walmart involved later hours, plus we’d have to stay lafter the store closed to restock all the things that got unshelved (like the entire toy department). The drive home took me through the worst area of town.

I didn’t even know enough to be worried, but Mom worried for me.

One day my husband decided to show me how to change a tire on that big ol’ truck—in case I ever had an emergency. But what he didn’t do was wrench all the lug nuts tight once he showed me the process.

Somehow, I made it the twenty minutes to the store. Worked my shift. We got out late. Midnightish. I drove part-way home, when all of a sudden, in the bad part of town, the whole tire, wheel and all, shot off my truck!

My tall truck screeched to a halt because the hub severed the brake line. Like taking one leg off of a four-legged chair, my truck leaned to the short side. What happened?

I jumped out of the truck quickly, not thinking. I started to walk to call for help and realized—without any money, how could I use a payphone?

I prayed, and felt God lead me back to the truck.

I had peace that somehow God was going to take care of me.

Next thing I knew, a security car from that area, pulled up in front of me and offered to help. He radioed for the command station to call Russ and have him come to the scene. A tow-truck also came.

Next thing we knew, a young man on a bicycle rolled up my wheel. He found it two blocks away and said it shot out like it was in a race!

When it was all over, I thought back on the situation.

Here I was, in a bad area of town, at a bad time of night. This naïve small-town girl had no money, stuck, no phone, and God took care of me.

I was never out of His care—out of His grasp.

It was a wonderful lesson to me that when you are in God’s will, He takes care of any of the risks involved. I was just as safe and secure there as I was sitting in a church pew.

When I told Mom what happened, she admitted her worries. Relieved at the outcome, she could finally exhale.

When those worries practically strangle us, we need to perform a WORRYECTOMY.

One way to do this is to create reminder cards to read through when worry hits. Have them say things like:

  • My God is bigger than my fear.
  • My God is bigger than this.
  • Nothing is impossible with God, not even this.
  • I'm never alone. God is with me always.
  • This circumstance isn't taking God by surprise.
  • God cares when I hurt.
  • What matters to me, matters to God.
  • This is temporary!

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25 NLT)

Repeating biblical concepts really helps you fight the torment of worry.

God is the Master at using hope of the future to reshape our present and overcome our past!

Through Christ, you have control over panic and fear.

Worry doesn’t have to overcome and overwhelm you unless you allow it. Don't give worry permission to mess with you!

Is it time for a worryectomy?

Kathy Carlton Willis, God's Grin Gal, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceHer popular blog, Grin & Grow with Kathy is featured on CBN. She and her husband Russ live in Beaumont, TX where they just recognized the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Alexas-Fotos at Pixabay.

 

 

Monday
Oct302017

Upgrade Your Fear Factor

Cindi McMenamin's specialty is strengthening women in their various roles. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she addresses something that holds many women back—the wrong kind of fear.

"Can fear ever be a good thing? It can," Cindi says, "but only when you are fearing the Right Thing."

I (Dawn) am a naturally fearful person, but I add my testimony to Cindi's here. Perspective is everything!

Cindi continues . . .

It occurred to me, as I was writing my book, Drama Free, that most of the drama we experience in life is a result of fear.

We tend to fear people—or circumstances—more than we fear God.

For instance, I was recently stressed out because I feared not being able to complete a deadline. But my fear was really rooted in failing to meet the expectations of others and then fearing what they would believe about me as a result.  

It bothered me to realize I was fearing what people thought of me more than I feared the God who had my back and could clear my name.

And couldn’t God equip me with what I needed to meet my deadline as I surrendered it to Him?

Throughout Scripture we are instructed to fear God (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

A friend once told me:

To fear God is to have a wholesome dread of ever displeasing the Lord.

That implies a love relationship with God in which we fear disappointing Him. That results in obedience, respect of His authority, and a careful intention to not break His heart.

The Bible also tells us, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom….” (Psalm 111:10, NASB).

I’ve come to realize the opposite of wisdom is drama.

When we exercise wisdom, we use discretion and we don’t make a scene.

When we demonstrate wisdom, we don’t bring distress to others.

When we display wisdom, we are not putting ourselves on display. 

If fearing the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, which negates drama, then fearing anything other than God is likely to trigger drama.

Instead of fearing God, you and I can tend to fear:    

  • being misunderstood
  • being treated unfairly
  • being embarrassed (by appearing weak or incapable)
  • being rejected
  • being in a situation where I am not in control (My daughter has a fear of flying because she fears not being in control. And let me tell you, she can be drama on the airplane because of it!)

Sometimes we simply fear the worst. That is still a fear of something other than God. It is giving more power to what we fear than to God, who can handle those fears.

In Exodus 14:14 we are told: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (NIV).

That is ONE CAPABLE GOD—able to do far more than our fears, worries or drama can accomplish.

The more you and I get to know who God is and what He is capable of, the more our worries, fears, and freak-outs can be stilled.

We can be full of drama, or full of trust in an all-capable God.

I know which one I want to be.

What do you tend to fear more than God? I’d love to hear it in the comment section below.

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the author of sixteen books, including her newest, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You, upon which this post is based.  For more on her ministry, discounts on her books, or free resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.                        

Graphic adapted, courtesy of John Hain at Pixabay.

Thursday
Apr062017

Let Us Spray

In Rhonda Rhea's case, the funnybone connects to the heart! In this Prayer UPGRADE, she encourages us to spend time where our strength lies.

"Sometimes I’m tempted to take some time off from hairspray," Rhonda says. "Sometime when I’m planning to go nowhere. And I mean absolutely nowhere. I think I would call it a spray-cation."

Don't get me (Dawn) started on hairspray. It's been a long time since my free-flowing "hippie" years. Now I'm in the "helmet" stage—as in, you couldn't dent my hair!

Rhonda continues . . .

It’s funny because I almost remember what it was like to freely run my fingers through my hair. It’s been a long time, though.

These days I invest in a lot of hair products. The fingers may go in, but I’m telling you right now. They’re not coming out.

I have to keep the crazy assortment of hair sprays, gels, mousses and goops, because it takes a different concoction for every style. A brew for every do, as it were.

When constructing an up-do, for instance, you sort of have to pour footings. I use a product that’s referred to as styling mousse, but I think it might actually be some sort of rebar.

Still—not to split hairs or anything—but it’s good to remember that if you don’t want to have to wrestle with your hair, you have to start with a good goo-foundation.

As for real life battles, if you want victory there, you have to start with a good spiritual foundation. You have to invest.

Time invested in connecting with the Father in prayer is absolutely vital.

  • Are you wrestling with your flesh on some issue or another? Take it to Him.
  • Struggling with a decision? Lay it at His feet.
  • Grappling with a fearful situation that has your hair standing on end—even before the mousse? Spend time with Him and the battle is all but over.

The God who created everything, the One who never tires, the One who has all power and who also promises to grant strength to those who will rely on Him—He is the One who will give victory. There’s not a single battle we can ever face that He doesn’t have the power to win.

Isaiah 40:28-31 spells it out.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow wear, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint” (HCSB).

So it’s eyes off of the battle that threatens to overwhelm us. And eyes on the God who simply cannot be overwhelmed.

The evil one wants to keep us focused on the problems, frustrations and pains of the battle. But the Lord wants us to take our eyes off all of that and fix them firmly on Him. More firmly fixed than the surest hair-glue.

We can do that through prayer. And that’s where our strength will be found.

Feeling weary? Powerless? Like you could easily stumble and fall?

Without a doubt, the best place to fall is to your knees.

Trust in the One who will be your strength. Fall before Him in prayer and you will find everything you need for soaring—really soaring—through every battle.

You win. And it’s the kind of victory that’s sure and complete.

Not the kind you win by just by a hair.

Are you trusting in your own strength today? Isn't it time for a talk with your Father in heaven?

Friends, "Let us spray."

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist, radio personality, speaker and author of 10 books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person?, Espresso Your Faith - 30 Shots of God's Word to Wake You Up, and a book designed to encourage Pastor's Wives (P-Dubs): Join the Insanity. Rhonda, a sunny pastor's wife, lives near St. Louis and is "Mom" to five grown children. Find out more at www.RhondaRhea.com.

Tuesday
May122015

Changing the Way We Do Change

Julie Sanders' life is in flux right now with many changes, but in this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she explains how she stays grounded.

"One thing is certain about every woman’s life; it will not stay the same," Julie says. "Instead of being tormented by transitions and shaken by shifting seasons, sojourners learn how to change the way we do change."

Having experienced many seasons of unexpected change, I (Dawn) agree with Julie. We need a biblical perspective on change.

Julie continues . . .

Regardless of our time of life, status, or circumstances, we are all positioned for change. You may be coming out of a season of upheaval, in the midst of massive change or getting ready for transition. Still, we are taken by surprise, as if we hoped to escape it.

We fear it. Dread it. Try to avoid it. Yet, it comes.

Change can shake our foundation relationally, emotionally, physically, professionally and spiritually. How can a woman survive the waves without being overturned?

Every woman faces change, because every woman is “a sojourner on the earth” (Psalm 119:19). As someone who lives temporarily in a place, we stay for a time on our earthly home. Our lives reflect that transience in regular transitions.

Revolutions often include our loved ones, bodies, homes, professions and identity. We are sojourners and sojourners face change.

We can approach seismic shifts with three actions when the ground shakes and we feel it deep in our hearts.

1. Hold to what doesn’t change.

The Psalmist leaves no doubt about what deserves our trust:  

"Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens" (Psalm 119:89). 

God’s Word is reliable and unchanging, so we can hold to its truth when evaluating decisions and shaping plans. In God’s inspired Word we find comfort for the raw emotions of upheaval and confidence for boldness to move forward into new territory.

When all else feels foreign and uncertain, God’s Word is familiar and secure.

2. Look to the answers God provides.

Change surprises us, making feelings overflow in hot waves. Our own emotions are hard to trust. Well-meaning voices offer advice, but no one takes the place of our all-wise God who remains the sames.

His word is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). It helps us sort through opinions and urges.

A job change, geographical relocation, new church or empty nest begs answers from our loving Father. Instead of downcast feelings, we can hope in the God our salvation (Psalm 43:5).

3. Run to God’s plan for you.

Grief, regret and questions often accompany transition, threatening to paralyze the sojourner with an overwhelmed heart. To press on, let lesser things fall away and reach forward to God’s good plan (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Determine not to turn to the left or right (Proverbs 4:27). Instead, when facing opposition or confusion, cry out, “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (Psalm 119:32) 

A sojourner may feel uncertain, opposed or weary on the journey of change, but at those moments, sojourners can take the next right step with a heart that says,

“Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it” (Psalm 119:35).

Know what will not change, look to God’s answers for your feelings, and do what God has marked out for your journey.  

We are sojourners, and sojourners face change.

What change are you experiencing in this season of your life? Are you coming out of, in the midst of, or leading up to a change? How prepared are you to sojourn through it?

Julie Sanders is a sojourner who just moved from the sweet tea South to the desert Northwest. The change collides with gaining an empty nest and leaving a professional ministry she loved. Everything will be different! She is grateful for her unchanging God and His hope-filled plans in a new season. Julie's devotional, Expectant, encourages expectant moms with truth and practical wisdom. Discover more about Julie at her blog.