Scripture Saturdays — Lent

fastw-78493_1280If 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.

Scripture Saturdays

fire-2116361_1280Why Should Christians Hope?

I said last week when I gave up worrying last Lent that I didn’t think to put something in it’s place.  I know now I need to hope.

In The Case For Hope, author Lee Strobel states the Bible mentions hope 97 times in the Old Testament and “83 in the New Testament”.  It’s clear God expects his people to be hopeful.  Why?  Because He is the ultimate hope.  Hoping in Him give us perfect love, complete forgiveness of our sins, and the joy of living with Him forever.  And in Jesus we have the example of what a person can be in a relationship with God.  We can’t be perfect like Jesus, but we have the hope God will change us to be more and more like His son.

So why do I have such a hard time hoping?

I think it’s a combination of physical wiring and and mental habit.  In the next week, I will try to rein in my my wild worries with a few strategies.  My focus will be Hebrews 13:6 “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”  I will also do try the following:

Imagine a positive outcome for a negative one.  I need to break my automatic response of imagining the worse.  That’s helpful when plotting fiction, but it’s a lousy way to live my life.

Become objective.  When I consider my worries, I will judge how likely they are to become reality, based on my past experiences.

I am reminded of a quote attributed to Mark Twain, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

 

 

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