Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Five Steps to Peace in These Troubling Times

He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! Isaiah 26:3

Right now, we're going through some pretty crazy times. But, honestly, we have troubles and stressors every day of our lives. If you find yourself overwhelmed by what's going on, try these suggestions to relieve your worries.

1. Turn Off The News

When something disrupts our normal lives, we want to soak up as much information as we can. This can lead to an obsession with the media, including broadcast news and social media.

I remember clearly being glued to the television and internet on 9/11. I was at work but there was no "work" being done because we couldn't believe what was happening. As the events unfolded, the broadcasters knew no more than us and yet we couldn't turn away from the meaningless yammering.

Nona Jones, the head of faith-based partnerships at Facebook, posted some wise advice the other day.  A former newscaster, she knows that the media feeds the natural tendency for humans to focus on worst case scenarios, which fuels anxiety and fear. You can read her post here. The crux of her post is this: "If we aren't careful, the news cycle will replace prayer with emotional exhaustion. Which is why we must guard our hearts with a diligence. ... But, please, DO NOT allow your heart to be troubled by an industry that is designed to trouble it for ratings." 

It's natural to want to learn as much as possible in a crisis, but when you find yourself unable to do anything else or when you're learning nothing new, it's time to end your screen time.

2. Change What You Can, Accept What You Can't

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
We always want to be in control. When there's a problem, we want to fix it. It's just what we do.

But, logically, there are some things we just can't fix. We either don't have the knowledge or the power to change some things. That's hard to accept.

But trying to change something we can't only leads to frustration and anxiety.

So, honestly assess what you can change and put your energy toward making positive change. And then accept what can't be changed. Worrying about it, talking about it, and obsessing about it isn't going to change it, but it sure can steal your peace.

3. Get Moving

When we are anxious, our bodies physically react, causing loss of concentration and fatigue, among other things. To combat those reactions, even just five minutes of aerobic exercise will begin to release endorphins, the "feel good" hormone. 

So, get on your feet and do something physical. Take a walk, dance with your kids, try some yoga. Just get moving!

4. Read Your Bible

I have heard that the Bible tells us to "fear not" 365 times. A whole year's worth of "don't be afraid"! That's a lot of "stop worrying". 

Why do you think that God talks so much about fear? Because He knows that it's our nature to worry and be anxious. And He wants us to know that He's got this. We just need to lean on Him.

I find comfort in reading passages like Matthew 6:25-34:

25 “So my counsel is: Don’t worry about things—food, drink, and clothes. For you already have life and a body—and they are far more important than what to eat and wear. 26 Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat—they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food—for your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. 27 Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothes? Look at the field lilies! They don’t worry about theirs. 29 Yet King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you, O men of little faith?
31-32 “So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, 33 and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.
34 “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.

5. Pray

You knew I'd go there, didn't you? That truly is the answer to most of life's questions or situations. 
I read some where that fear and anxiety are a "cause to pause". I wish I could cite where I read it because, as I recall, it was a good article. Unfortunately, my internet search did not turn up that article. So, you'll have to rely on my faulty memory and paraphrasing. 
We get scared as a reminder to stop and turn to God for help. So, when you find yourself worrying, stop dead in your tracks and have a conversation with God. Tell Him about your worries and ask for guidance. Ask for peace. Then - and this is an important step - stop talking and start listening. Let God do His thing that He does so well.
One beautiful thing about this is that, unlike your co-workers or friends, He won't get frustrated when you stop to pray every time you feel anxious. I promise. You could say the same prayer fifty times and His response will be the same each time "Don't worry, my child. I've got this."
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1 comment:

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