Friday, 15 June 2012

Living Above Worry and Stress

Worry and stress both sink their roots into one thing. Fear. Will I get there in time? What will others think? How will this ever work? The questions that plague us day in and day out, worrying at our hearts until they're frayed and desperate, are not the kind of questions that Jesus asked. "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.... If then God so clothes the much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith" (Luke 12:27-28).

I have struggled with stress for a very long time. I'm a perfectionist at heart, so when anything goes wrong, or it just looks like it might go wrong, I become a basket case. Yet I know that a life of tension is not what God wants for us! So when I saw this Bible study guide by Women of Faith, Living Above Worry and Stress, I knew that it was the right thing to get.

I love the format of the WoF study guides. Engaging stories and personal narratives are sprinkled through clusters of thought-provoking questions, with plenty of blank space to scribble down your thoughts and ideas. At the end of every chapter there is a little "trinket to treasure," a picture of an item that is supposed to help you remember the lesson. The leader's guide at the back of the book contains extra information and clarity for nearly every question.

I just finished the guide this morning, and it has given me so many insights that I would love to share with all of you! If you deal with worry or stress at all then I highly recommend getting this book for yourself, but here is a "tasting dish" of insights I gleaned from my studies.
  • So many times we lose our perspective and get caught up in 1,000,001 things, most of which are not vitally important. Make a catalog of your duties and responsibilities (regular events which must be planned, church involvement, work, homemaking, etc.). Put the world back in focus and get a grip on your schedule. 
  • Fear is universal. When you're distracted by "what-ifs" and find no rest in your pillow, remember that some of the greatest heroes of the Bible (Jacob, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Peter) were all afraid of something. The Lord is our strength in these times, and He longs to take away our fears! What is your greatest fear and how can God dispel it?
  • Do a character study on Mary and Martha in the Bible. They are mentioned in Luke 10:38-42, John 11 and John 12:1-8. Learn from these two women and record your insights.
  • Feel like you need more joy? Worry throttles joy. Humility and thankfulness banish worry.
  • This illustration put things in such clear and relatable terms for me, "Many of us scoop more onto our plates than we can handle in a day. It all looks good. A little more couldn't hurt. But pretty soon we realize our ambitions were bigger than our time. That's when stress begins to weigh us down. Do you have too much on your plate?"  
  • Living in the moment. That's where the secret lies. If I'm concentrating on right now, I can see God's grace covering it. Move away from that towards stressing about the past or worrying about the future, and I'm disobeying God; I'm moving out from His protection. 
  • When you feel the urge to frown, raise your eyebrows! It works wonders.
Flower for a Friend by Pink Sherbet Photography
Flower for a Friend, a photo by Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr. 

I won't say that this study guide has solved all of my stress and worry problems, but the scriptures I have studied and the stories I've read have emphasized three important things:
  1. Stress and worry are not God's plan for me.
  2. God is bigger than my stress and worry and wants to overcome them.
  3. I must hand my fears over to the Prince of Peace every single day.
As homeschooled girls, we can take an awful lot on ourselves. The important thing is that we give it all to God. I hope that you will be able to conquer your worry and stress, through Christ who strengthens you!

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