Despite feeling the need to work at 100 m.p.h., I followed Mrs. McDowell’s advice and sat down and expressed to God what all my anxieties were and turned them over to him. Then for over five minutes, I tried to clear my mind, repeating, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
Those five minutes worked wonders. I was refreshed and clear-headed. I will try to keep to this new routine, and hopefully, increase my time when I just sit and listen for God.
If you are thinking of giving up something for Lent, I recommend giving up worry.
This will be the third year I have tried to give up worrying for Lent. I worry about everything. And I do mean everything. If I’m depressed I can always find a dark cloud in the biggest silver lining. The first year I gave up worry was the most rewarding Lent I have ever had, spiritually, mentally, even physically. Last year, I had much more trouble giving it up. That’s why I want to try again this year.
If you are like me, and worrying is so much a part of your life that you think it is normal, here are some actions I took to help me give it up.
Pray every day. I couldn’t give up worrying without God. I pray when I walk, so every day, I would review my vow, thank God for the worries I gave up the day before, look at what I was currently worrying about, and rededicate my efforts to give them up. I needed to check in with the Coach before plunging into the day’s “game”.
Become objective. I worry so naturally I had to step out of myself mentally so I could observe my symptoms of worrying. If I had racing, repetitive thoughts, or a sick stomach, or shortness of breath, I knew those were signs of worry. I would look at my thoughts, sort out the worries, and kick them out. As I became more aware of my symptoms, I could catch the worries sooner.
Take it day by day. If you tell God on Ash Wednesday that you will not worry again until Easter, you will fail. Don’t look further ahead than one day. Pray and then work through the day to run the worries out of your head. Even if you have to do it fifty or a hundred, or five hundred times a day at first, you have not failed. Every day you work at it, you are fulfilling your vow.
If feel moved to give up worry for Lent, let me know how you are doing.
In the days leading up to the solar eclipse, my husband mentioned how extraordinary the phenomenon is. The moon is the perfect size to block the sun and leave the corona visible. Both the sun and the moon are the perfect distance from each other. According to Wikipedia in the article “solar eclipse”, if “the Moon were in a perfectly circular orbit, a little closer to Earth, and in the same orbital plane, there would be total solar eclipses every month. However, since the Moon’s orbit it tilted at more than 5 degrees to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, its shadow usually misses Earth.” To read more of this article, click here.
The eclipse reminds me that in God the Creator, He combines the Ultimate Scientist with the Ultimate Artist. Although the nature we see isn’t perfect due to death, it still functions with a beauty that makes us smile and catch our breath. Can you imagine what perfect nature will be like in the new heaven and new earth?
Perhaps we limit ourselves when we try to split science from art. Some inventions work, but we like the ones that work beautifully. An artist still has to understand the elements of his art. A sculptor must know how different materials behave under different applications and which one would be best to accomplish a particular work.
I am going to keep this in mind when I write. There is a “science” in writing — understanding parts of speech, word definitions, sentence structure — and I should take full advantage of that “science” so I can meld it with the art and creat something beautiful.
I’m sorry it’s been so long since I posted in this category. My time got away from me this summer and I have just now found it. Since Easter, I’ve been reading the Psalms and Proverbs. I like the structure of the Psalms. The verses are usually a kind of couplet in which the same thing is described two different ways.
“Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon whither, like green plants they will soon die.”
I’m not sure where I read it, but a writer pointed out that because of this structure, the Psalms translate into any language. Its poetry isn’t dependent on rhyme.
Proverbs also uses this dual structure. Sometimes it does it the same way as the Psalms, such as in Chapter 17:17:
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
But many of the Proverbs are couplets that demonstrate an opposite.
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
“The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yield folly.”
My favorite chapter in Proverbs is Chapter 30, “the Sayings of Agur”. It uses a structure only found in this chapter.
“There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!'”
“There are three thing that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing: a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats from nothing,; a strutting rooster, a he-goat, and king secure against revolt.”
I like how these list are constructed and would love to be able to write some with modern meanings. Now that I’ve found my time, maybe I will do that.
Here are some of my favorite verses from the Psalms:
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.
“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, your ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” I like this verse because it is the first line of a hymn I grew up with.
Psalm 133:1, 3:
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” “It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion, for there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”
“I lift my eyes to the hill — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” I like this verse because I love mountains.
I wanted to tell you how I was doing with giving up worrying and taking up hope for Lent. Not very well is the answer. I have been worrying a lot. Not the stomach-sickening, paralyzing kind of worry, but the sneaky, persistent sort that makes me feel miserable before I can figure out why.
It is so alien to my nature to hope. It feels false, like I am wearing an outfit I don’t like. And our culture in general, in the arts specifically, equates hope with rose-colored glasses and chasing rainbows. I can’t even estimate the number of times I have read that a TV series has “improved” because this season the storyline is darker, or an actor is excited her character has taken a dark turn.
I understand why artists turn to dark themes. They believe that can get more dramatic mileage out of the destruction of a marriage than the restoration of one, out of a best friend’s betrayal than her faithfulness.
But it’s extremely difficult to live with such depressing expectations. Since my feelings in this area often trick me, I will go with what I know, and what I know about hope I have found in the following verses:
Psalm 31:24: “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”
Psalm 42:5: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
This is one I love Jeremiah 29:11: ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
Yesterday I actively hoped instead of worried about a problem. I felt my heart grow lighter. I came to the conclusion that since neither hoping or worrying changes the outcome of a situation in reality, I might as well hope. Like any other skill, I have to practice it.