Anxiety (or, pursuing Peace) · prayer

The Power of Being Thankful

Being thankful is so powerful, I’m surprised at how often I need to be reminded to do it. Recently I was struggling with anxiety because of some unanswered questions. I had been losing so much energy, joy, and mind-space to the fearful possibilities on which I was focusing. Fear is such a thief.

One good thing: I spent a lot more time with God because I knew I needed Him. He somehow kept patiently reminding me of what He’s told me hundreds of times before: Remember to be thankful.

Sometimes journaling helps. In an old journal I have written, in large, frustrated letters: “THANK YOU FOR GUACAMOLE.” It was clearly the only thing I could think of to be thankful for at that moment. Being thankful can be hard work, especially when we are stuck in a negative mindset. It often requires creativity. But I find that once I begin, it comes more easily, and can be fun once I get on a roll. 

Being thankful changes our focus, helping us to realize we are not in charge. It digs us out of the trap of negative thinking. And I think there is also an element that can’t be easily explained in the natural — being thankful somehow changes the spiritual “air” around us, and intimidates the enemy of our souls.

Best of all, being thankful is like a GPS driving us in the most direct route to the Presence of the Father. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name” – Psalm 100:4. And from there, seeing Him more clearly without negative thoughts to blind us, we are more free to worship Him, and to just enjoy being near him. The enemy flees. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” – James 4:7. Being thankful is an excellent way to resist, and it brings freedom.

Anxiety (or, pursuing Peace) · prayer · Uncategorized

Too Many Details

I used to think I was a “detail person.” But over time, I realized that pretty much applies only to my artwork, and even in that details can overwhelm me. That’s why I prefer painting a close-up of an object rather than a landscape. I know a lot of amazing people who do so many things and handle so many details with energy and confidence. I’m just not one of those people. And I’m ok with that, until the schedules, needs, and expectations of my family, others and myself go beyond a certain point. My brain goes haywire and I turn into a rather unpleasant person.

Life can be overwhelming. Besides the necessary things of daily life, and the unplanned surprises (pleasant or unpleasant), we are more or less under the influence of our culture, which pressures us to be busy, to have more, volunteer more, have a clean house, a mown lawn with no dandelions, make more money, be more social, be doing all the time. Some people thrive on lots of activity (you go, you extrovert energizer bunnies! I admire you!). But some of us are drained by it all, overwhelmed by all the details of life. We require more simplicity, peace, and quiet in order to function well.

Even though we haven’t read it yet, my husband and I often talk about the basic principle of this book: Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson. Some of us do just fine with 1/4” margin all around their “page.” Some of us do better with one or two words on the page and a whole lot of white space (yes, give me that!). But no one does well with zero margin, words to the very edge of the page in every direction — everyone needs some space to deal with the unexpected, whether it’s a friend (or stranger) that needs help, or a tree falls on your house during a storm. And everyone needs some time to process life and not to hide behind a busy schedule.

Each detail of life carries a bit of weight. The more anxiety or worry attached to it, the heavier it is. I’m continually learning to “Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). Some time ago, during worship at our church, I had a vague mental picture of Jesus smiling at me. It looked like there was something in His hand. I was mostly wondering if I was just making this picture up in my head, but also felt I should ask, “What is that in Your hand?” So I asked, and added, “By the way, I don’t have enough faith today to even hear your answer.” At that exact moment, our worship leader prayed, “Thank You that You hold the details of our lives in the palm of your hand.”