When I first became a Christian one of the first sins I had to tackle was WORRY. I know to some you may think that isn’t quite as dramatic as giving up an addiction to heroin or a compulsive gambling habit, however it was huge to me.
After all, worry is almost genetic if you are from jewish heritage. Worry and guilt. I leaned to the worry side, but I can give guilt a good run too.
There are so many reasons why worry was a problem in my life, but it was especially impacting my ability to start and run my own business. I was going into private practice as a Christian counselor and business coach. At least that was my goal once I finished graduate school.
I was a 38 years old secular business veteran going back to LSU to get a Master’s degree so I could become a Christian counselor. Now God tells me in the bible not to worry, but everyone else in my life thought I should be worrying.
Good Reason to Worry – or so I Was Told!
My husband told me we wouldn’t be able to afford our house and we would have to disrupt our kids, downsize, and change our standard of living. (He was actually right, but I just needed to do it, not worry about it.)
My boss told me when I resigned from my GM job running her restaurants that I would never make any money. When that didn’t work she actually said I was withholding my gifts and talents in business from the world. At this point, I was pretty much a sold out Jesus freak and she thought that angle would provoke the guilt part. After all, if God created me with business gifts shouldn’t I use them for good in the world.
My professors tried to steer me away from private practice for internship. They said I would never get my hours. But isn’t internship to practice and evaluate what you want to do when you finish?
If God Gave Me the Vision Won’t He Help With the Details?
It was God who gave me the vision. How could it be wrong. I had been working on every career assessment, life planning exercise and spiritual discipline I could to get a flashing sign from God as to which direction I was supposed to go. He gave me the billboard, and here I was wringing my hands over whether His plan would work or not.
Being a fairly new Christian my daily prescription for my obsessive worrying was to go to my Life Application NIV bible and look up passages to get God’s wisdom on all of the things I was fretting.
Finally, one day in my search for the answers to my chaotic life, I read Matthew 6:26 – 40.
26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[a]?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
God’s Word Spoke to Me in a Different Way
This wasn’t the first time I had read it. But you know how sometimes you can read a verse and never get much from it and all of the sudden it jumps out with new meaning to you. This was one of those times. God wanted me to get it this time. The Holy Spirit brought these verses alive. Okay, so the Holy Spirit had to use the NIV footnotes to bring it alive, but it hit me. The footnotes told me that my worrying wasn’t going to change anything. And by the way, I am insulting Jesus because by worrying I am saying that He cant help me or take care of me.
I wasn’t consciously questioning Him. It was in my nature to worry. It was my personality to take control on my own. Obsession and worry were like gasoline on my fire of productivity. The problem was that in the past, my productivity moved in the direction of worldly definitions of success, logic, and what was best for my family.
But, when God gave me the flashing sign to quit the business world, take responsibility for my family, and go back to graduate school I knew it was from Him. Was I going to trust Him or not?
Trust and Worry Are Mutually Exclusive
Trusting God and worrying daily about all of the details ARE mutually exclusive. Reading these words from Jesus in Matthew 6:26-40 were making that clear. This was a God sized vision and I wasn’t going to accomplish it on my own anyway. Didn’t I believe God was powerful and wise enough to make it happen if it was His will? And if it wasn’t His will didn’t I want to find out anyway? I didn’t want to miss God’s plan for my life!
Do you ever experience this? You believe that God is all powerful, all knowing, creator of the universe. You know He loves you even more than you love yourself. But all of the sudden hardship, massive challenges or doubt creep into your business and you move into overdrive of worry, obsession and controlling activity.
Letting Go of the Worry and Obsession
I was convicted this day and I let go of the worry and obsession. I would like to say it was a cold turkey 100% conversion to the worry-free me. My husband would read this and post a comment otherwise. But I began to give the worry to God.
I was doing my part. I had developed a plan. There were big pieces that had to happen. My boss didn’t want to run the business and ask me to help her sell it. We had to sell a pricey house which the realtor said could take a year. I had to get accepted to grad school. And so on and so on.
Each day I would look at the plan, decide what I needed to do and just do it! When I would be up against a challenge and obsessive worrying kicked in I would stop and pray, write in my journal to God, or many times get down on my knees.
Replacing Worry with Trust Grows Faith
And each time I did this I would feel release from the burden. The worry would magically dissipate and the result would reaffirm my faith that Jesus was with me and taking care of the details.
It became a new habit. And it brought meaning to another favorite verse of mine that I carried around with me everywhere.
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart,
lean not on your own understanding
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.
What Can You Do?
When challenges arrive in your business are you looking to God? Are you trusting Him with all of your heart? I know how hard it is. Try giving over the worry to God. How? Pray! Ask Jesus to provide for your business as he provides for the birds and flowers. Then pray that you can release the worry. Pray that you can be faithful to what you know to be true and let Jesus help you carry your burdens.
Remember, the outcome is the outcome whether you worry or not. Do your part to work through the situation. Follow your logic and gifts God has given you. But give the worry part to God. All the worry does is affect your health, impact your relationships, and push you into control mode.
The cool thing about this release from worry is you can go back and see God working in your life. You will see that half of the things you worried about never happened anyway. So the worry would have been fruitless. I believe you will find that God will provide for your business needs. Maybe not wants, but real needs. And in some cases we will find that God’s will didn’t align with our “wants”, but given time we will capture His promise in Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
And in the end we will STILL see that He is taking care of us as he promises in Matthew 6:26-34.
How do you turn your worries over to God? I would love to hear other ways people have found to give up the fine art of worry.
Did you write this just for me???? How awesome!
Johanna, you are so funny! I guess if Jesus would die just for me, I would definitely be honored to write my blog just for YOU!
Jeremy Pope says
I do believe that worry and faith are mutually exclusive. This is just what I needed to hear (or read) today. Easier read than done though!!
Jeremy – it is easier to read than do in our own strength. I have been meditating on the verses:
Philippians 4:6-7 (New International Version)
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I needed new worry verses to focus on. Which in turn brings us back to the same answer – we need to take it back to God in prayer? So let’s read and pray together!