Recently, I woke up with the thought that God tells us not to be anxious (Philippians 4:6). Our willingness to live out this guidance principle from His Word allows us to meet the challenges of life in a more purposeful, less-stressed frame of mind.
Patience is a huge piece of emotional wholeness and comes from our living intentionally, or as I like to coin the phrase, “Life by Design, not Default”.
Later this same day, I decided it was time to untwist the cords on my plantation blinds on two windows upstairs. They had been left in a tied-up, tangled-up state due to the fact that they are not in my typical line of vision as I am mostly downstairs. Also, the fact is, they are in the middle of my husband, Jeff's office, and it's not a task I would want to have him watching over my shoulder... LOL!
At first, I was letting thoughts of irritation invade my peaceful mindset and not utilizing patience. I was focusing on not wanting to do this right now because it was too warm in the room and the fact that there were many other things I could be doing that would be of more value than standing there untwisting the blinds.
As soon as I recognized that these negative thoughts were actually making the project more distasteful, I challenged my thoughts to reflect back on my early morning musings about patience and anxiety. I began to focus on how thankful I am to have a nice home and to have the opportunity to delight in making it a cozy and peaceful home.
I often get a front-row seat to moderate anxiety, with my beloved fur-baby, Max. He is a 5 year old golden retriever who really has a challenging time accepting change. He wants to be fed and walked at the scheduled time his internal clock dictates to him. If I move a chair or a lamp, he has to review what has happened and be given time to adjust.
If my hubby, Jeff, who is Max’s best bud, is away, Max may pace a while, whine at the door or lounge with his big head and beautiful puppy eyes, resting on my lap. He likes sameness. He is incredibly anxious and pants fairly loudly when he isn’t having his routine to go down the way he expects.
I’m a lot like Max. I like to sit in my favorite place, which is near a window. wherever I am. I like to drink my coffee or tea from one particular mug. I like the bed made as soon as I get out of it. When I return home, I beat a path to place my purse in the same spot on the same shelf, time after time. I actually do not like to travel (yep, now you know my biggest quirk), because I like to sleep in my own bed!
My reasoning for this behavior is that, more than anything, I absolutely detest having to search for anything or readjust to new surroundings.
I began to think of how God is teaching me to choose to be patient and work in a calm manner, rather than murmuring, and allowing my feelings of discontent to make me feel like I have a right to grumble. I thought how I have often been given a gentle nudge by Jesus, who loves me and wants the best for me.
Left to my own devices, I would likely be the same person in 20 years that I am today.... never growing, never exiting my comfort zone. What a waste that would be, of a beautiful gift of life that I have been given!
In this and numerous other incidences, when I stop and listen to myself and overwrite my dislike for doing certain things or being in certain places, I can happily agree that the anxiety I feel around being dissatisfied can quickly turn to peace and a serene state of mind, when I choose to accept my situation and simply be patient.
My Grandmother would typically say about uncomfortable circumstances, “It came to pass, not to stay!” Yet my murmuring, complaining and finding fault certainly can make the staying part seem way too long!
Another thing Grandma often said was, "You will find whatever it is you are looking for in a given situation. If you look for the good, that's what you will find; if you look for the bad, that is all you will see!" This is certainly true in my life.
Anxiety is like being held at gunpoint while being robbed. It snarls around our present moments and blurs our focus. If that isn't enough, it robs our energy, our health and our hope for a brighter day. There is absolutely nothing good in being anxious.
And the irony of the whole situation is that anxiety does not help anything. Worry, fear and doubt separate us from the peace God paid such a high price to provide for us. Nothing changes, improves or morphs into our ideal dream. We are left tired, angry, disillusioned and wrung out.
It's like being in an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist. (This is someone who needs and seeks too much attention, wants to be admired, and does not have the ability to understand or care about the feelings of others). A totally toxic situation for those in relationship with them. But that's a story for another day and I digress.
How do we take steps to overcome anxiety?
As I see it, patience can help us to calmly assess situations in ways that can help us manage expectations in how we envision an outcome. Often, it's our expectations that things 'ought' to turn out in a certain way, that creates anxiety in the first place. We don't like the steps needed to get to a desired outcome, although, we have the ideal belief that the outcome will be like the grand finale at a Fourth of July fireworks celebration.
But it takes a whole lotta whole lotta to get there! We love to plan the party, yet the shopping, chopping, cooking, making lists, recruiting volunteers, answering RSVPs about directions, what to wear, what gift to bring yada yada yada, can be overwhelming at times.
Reflecting back on the beginning of my post, it was my underlying thoughts that spending the time in an uncomfortable, overly warm office to stand for half an hour untangling cords on plantation shutters would be a boring, waste of time and who would notice anyway. This was the actual culprit behind my anxiety and dissatisfaction. It wasn't the actual task itself. It was my underlying thought process.
There is a reason that Scripture teaches us in Philippians 2:14 to do all that we have to do without murmuring (grumbling) and complaining. It makes the job so much worse. And who wants to be an audience when someone whines about their tasks? Yep, go ahead and sign me up, right? NO! Thank you!
The opposite of grumbling would be gratitude. I have a lot to be thankful for in my home and the opportunity and good health to care for it well. It is a privilege that many do not have.
I honestly believe there are three things that we can cultivate that will help us to reduce anxiety. They are to forgive when we've been wronged, be thankful for what we are given, and be content with the tasks that are ours to complete. After all, isn't this exactly how we would teach children to be?
If you haven't observed young children for a while, make a point to do so. They laugh a lot, throw a lot of energy (while smiling) into their tasks, and quickly forgive and move right on with their play time with other children.
What a beautiful example of what Jesus meant when He told us in Matthew 8:13 that, 'unless we become as little children we will not enter into heaven'.
And they delight themselves in their creative abilities and the tasks they have to do. They are often tireless in their efforts to build forts, create lego cities, cook in their play kitchens, and serve guests at their tea parties.
Yet, all of these 'play events' require work and focus to complete. But they enjoy it and I believe one thing makes the big difference. It is found in their attitudes. They have 'chosen' to do their task and do it with a great attitude. Most.Of.The.Time. Like us, they do have their off days. And we love them for being so real and authentic.
So, where can we point our focus today to help reduce our anxiety and experience more lasting joy? It’s actually closer than you may think!
When we are intentional with our attitudes, our patience, managing our expectations and being quick to forgive wrongs done to us, we catch many more moments that take our breath away!
I pray today will be a day just like that for you!
Until next time.....
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Sheri Geyer is a Relationship Coach for Christian Women*
*And women seeking to learn more about a relationship with Jesus Christ!
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