What lesson is God teaching you in your current season?
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately because it takes me out of my limited viewpoint and makes me look at the bigger picture. A big lesson God has been teaching me lately is how often I replace my trust in Him when I let my mind start reeling from the dreaded “What-Ifs.” What If is a way we start sentences in our minds and out loud when we’re too focused on the future to have peace in our present circumstances and season God has us in. “What if ______ happens?” We fill in the blank with every potential health, financial, relationship, or well-being outcome and let our imagination do the rest.
I wish I could say I’ve fought and won the battle with the what-ifs, but I can’t.
A few months ago, I started becoming extremely aware of how much hair I was losing in the shower every day. For a girl with fine hair, every strand is precious. Then, I went to the salon and watched my stylist’s face fill with worry as she continued to empty the brush of handfuls of hair. I sat and cried in her chair.
“What if I continue to lose hair at this rate?
What if I’ll never grow that hair back?
What if there’s something really wrong with my body?”
Even as I type this post, I find myself worrying about an unknown outcome I have no control over.
In an effort to save ourselves unexpected hurt, pain, or confusion, we often look at everything that could go wrong ahead of time. We spend emotional energy thinking through the worst-case scenarios when they aren’t even our reality. And while we think we’re helping ourselves process potential outcomes, what we’re really doing is replacing our joy and peace with unnecessary anxiety.
But Jesus is pretty clear about His thoughts on worry.
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” - Matthew 6:27
We were never meant to be slaves to worry. Jesus came so that we may have life in abundance. He came to set us free, not just for our eternity in heaven but also during our time on earth. And while I haven’t fully conquered my fear of the future, there are ways for you and me to overcome our fear and anxiety through our faith, and reduce the amount of time we allow worry to steal our joy.
Read the Word and put it into practice. We can read in Philippians 4:6-7 an exact equation for how to deal with anxiety. Verse 6 reads, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.” When we do just that, verse 7 tells us what will happen next. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 shows us that when we humble ourselves and cast our anxieties upon the Lord, He will lift us up. Wondering what you can do to humble yourself? Start by meditating on who God is - He is the creator of all things, brings all things together for good, and has saved us from all our sins. When we think about our all-knowing God, our fear dissolves in comparison to His greatness and sovereignty.
Write your prayer or speak it out loud. Sometimes when my mind is in spin mode, I can find it difficult to pray in silence or stillness. When this happens, I find peace in being able to talk to God out loud, or by writing out my prayer to Him on a piece of paper. Tell Him what you’re worried about, and ask Him to fill your mind with the truth found in His Word. Write or talk it out.
Fill out a Control Chart. In the first column, write “Things I Can Control.” In the second, write “Things I Can’t Control.” Fill out the chart based on your current situation. Take action on the things you can work on, and pray about the uncontrollable items.
Talk to someone. Whether it’s a close friend or spiritual mentor, or a Christian counselor, an anxious mind can find rest when it’s able to verbally process fear with a trusted advisor. Don’t be afraid to open up and be vulnerable. Just how God can use our brokenness for His glory, He can use someone else’s story or wisdom to speak to us at the right time when we need it most.
In her book, Calm My Anxious Heart Linda Dillow writes, “Our What Ifs will either drive us to God and faith or they will drive us to worry and dependence on self. God gives peace and contentment; worry gives illness and misery.” Don’t feel discouraged if you’re battling with the what-ifs. Allow them to be the driver to seek dependence on God, leading to peace and contentment today!