Life is often a mess of worry and stress. I started a new job a couple months ago. I'm still working with adults with disabilities. Same building, new programs, different non-profit, schedule change. Now I work after-school programs and a Saturday program.
I underestimated the amount of stress I would feel with all the changes and the added responsibility of being a supervisor. I find each week my stress level goes higher and higher until it reaches its peak on Friday evening as I feel unprepared for my biggest program on Saturday, and it slowly comes back to normal by Saturday evening.
I allow too many worries to flood my mind... worried that my class plans stink, that the staff think I'm ill-suited for the position and disorganized, that there is going to be a behavior I can't handle, that a parent is upset with me for a phone conversation that was confusing, and so on.
Despite all this anxiety, every Saturday night, even when the week had some hiccups I look back and say, "I didn't need to worry that much." The stress that I allowed didn't make me more productive, more secure, more confident, more anything but unhappy and sick to my stomach.
On Wednesday evening last week I randomly decided to read from Matthew 6 before I went to bed. I usually choose something from the Psalms but felt lead to the gospel. I read the section about the birds and the lilies... and came to the final verse.
"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34
As I read that passage and felt its comforting truth seep into my soul I realized that what I deemed a random choosing of a passage was a divine moment from the Father. There were the words of Jesus, speaking into my life what I needed at that very moment.
It is so easy to be anxious and worry. I think I mistake it at times for planning ahead, but there is a difference. Planning ahead shouldn't make me feel sick in the morning and weepy at night. Anxiety is an absence of trust, and I felt convicted. I hadn't been trusting that God was going to take care of me. I didn't trust that He could take care of me when I inevitably made mistakes and didn't handle things the right way. When I didn't have things planned perfectly or when I just plain failed.
Thursday morning I re-read the passage in Matthew 6. I felt so much better, and drove to work without worry. As the day rolled on I was amazed to see how many things I was able to accomplish, but more than that my heart was at peace and free from anxiety.
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3
I write this with an understanding that I am terrible at it. Even as last week improved there were times on Friday and Saturday that I was tempted to revert to my old, well-worn habits. It is almost humorous that it is so tempting to make ourselves feel so sick with worry about things we can or can't control.
An inner focus can only lead to sadness, anxiety, depression, doubt, and other unpleasant and downright awful consequences. I've experienced these things and I don't want to continue the cycle.
I pray that the following verse would be a reality for me everyday, no matter how great or small the obstacles may be.
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation." Isaiah 12:2