When Worry Finds You, Go Finding Something Else
Recently, for my birthday, I got to experience what a spa called the “foot refresher.” I checked in and they handed me the clipboardy thing. It’s paperwork you have to fill out telling them about all the bad rashes, STD’s, and pregnancies you’ve ever had or not had in your life. I swear spas collect more information than surgeons. But anyhoooo, the receptionist walked me to the “relaxation” room. She said I could “up” my service from a 50 minute to an 80 minute massage. I thought, “It’s my birthday, I just might do that.” So I asked them how much it would be. She said seventy bucks. I decided to splurge.
They invited me to get all zen in the relaxation room before the massage, so I walked over to the tea bar. I picked mint. I always do unless jasmine is an option. Then I sat in my chair, fidgeting to get cozy. I had to pee, so I got up and headed down the hall to the bathroom with no flip flops, no bra and no brush. I looked like a million bucks.
When I returned to the relaxation room a sweet pregnant lady walked in. She sat down across from me and in order to avoid eye contact and mess with her zen time, I slanted my gaze slightly left and stared at the fireplace. Now I was socially awkward, which I don’t often feel. She got up, either because she felt my weird vibe or she, too, discovered the tea. The second she did, the door opened and in walked a man with an eye patch. I kid you not. He was probably twenty years older than me and he seemed drunk, but probably more like… relaxed. He scooted in and took the first empty chair he saw, which was the pregnant lady’s chair.
I started to feel anxious like “Should I say something so the woman can get her seat back?” Then I reminded myself, “She’s a big girl. She can probably speak for herself.” I looked over to observe how their interaction was going to go and you wouldn’t believe it- this man’s robe was popped open and he was showing ALL his man parts!
I’ll tell you what… if Jesus Himself would have been chillin’ in that spa, I’m pretty sure He would have turned water into whiiiiite underwear.
So much for my relaxation. I was mortified. The pregnant lady walked over. Her hands were full, one with tea and the other with those healthy trail mix snacks you get at places like this- that have dried fruit that’s probably been drying since 1804 and it leaves you wondering where the chocolate is. I completely passed on the offer, but apparently she was a health nut. She was so sweet, observing the scenario, moving back and forth clumsily, and trying to figure out what to do. I don’t think she cared that this man took her seat, except for the fact that he was sitting on her clipboard thingy. She invited him to remain in his seat but she pointed, “Uhhhh, my forms.” He offered to move. She declined. I left to pee.
The entire time, my mind was like a tennis match on some kind of upper. All the things I needed to do started making giant lists in my head, and I got anxious because I didn’t have a pencil to write them down. I worried I would forget them. I started getting anxious about how we would pull off feeding almost 1,000 ladies at the upcoming Collide event and how we would register them and how we would show them that they are loved. And when would I find time to write a message and will this be the Collide where I don’t have one or it sucks or finally God reveals to all ya’ll that I might not be cut out for this. And then I started worrying about a friend. And then I worried that maybe my headaches mean I have a tumor? The next thing you know I was down the road of saying goodbye to my kids forever because that hypothetical tumor killed me.
Do you ever do this? Do you ever find your mind running down some hypothetical road of worry where before you know it the things you worry about have become a reality in your head, and you are now problem solving things that in actuality haven’t even happened? In your head, your husband has already left you and you are trying to figure out how you are going to pay the bills and mow the lawn when he’s gone, but in reality he is upstairs taking a nap on the couch. In your head, your kids have already totally blown it and you are giving them your “I will love you no matter what” speech while trying to figure out how to be a grandma in your 40’s, but in reality, your kid is just having their first crush and living it out on Snapchat. I wonder if I’m the only one who does this… I kind of have a feeling I might not be.
The entire massage I didn’t feel my feet, I felt my anxiety.
I looked up at the masseuse and apologized because I had to get up and use the bathroom again. I returned for the rest of my massage and she said, “Try to get back into your happy place.”
Get back into my happy place? I never got into my happy place to begin with! I walked out to pay and the lady said “That will be $189.” Apparently the $70 was not for the entire bill but for the extra few minutes. I was floored. Now I felt dumb, and I felt anxious that I felt dumb. I paid for the massage and then my husband and I fought over the excessive $200 foot refresher that I didn’t even enjoy because I got massaged by worry and anxiety.
We actually live in what some are calling the “Anxiety Culture.” We’re getting gray hairs because we’re Nervous Nellies. We’re taking chill pills because we’re worried sick. We’re stress cases with stress balls. We have economic anxiety, political anxiety, financial anxiety, hormonal anxiety and relational anxiety. We worry about failing. We worry about succeeding. We worry about getting into school. We worry about getting out of school. We worry about being late. We worry about being too early. We worry about getting a date. We worry about getting out of dates. We worry about getting married. We get married and worry about getting divorced, then we worry about getting married again. We worry our dreams won’t come true and we worry that they will.
Worry can present itself differently for each one of us. For some it might look like insomnia, self medicating, stress eating, shopaholism, or busyness. One second we can be doing okay and the next, a Facebook post sends us into Anxiousville. Worry and anxiety can look like pacing, sweaty palms, lack of self care, impatience, irritability, overreacting, and faster than normal heart rate. It can also look like over-analyzing decisions, controlling things, lack of engagement or the inability to filter the hypothetical from reality.
For some of us, anxiety looks like a nagging sense that gets in the way of our lives every single day and maybe it has for years. And for others, we have sought the counsel of healthcare professionals and have come to accept that worry and anxiety might be a part of us, a thorn, if you will, that we might always have on this side of the perfect place we call Heaven. Worry is a friend to all, stopping by for visits all too often. For some, it has actually moved in and become our roommate.
The word worry actually means to: choke or strangle.
Is your life being strangled by worry?
Life is like a trip to the spa where we seek to find that “happy place.” But even with the best of intentions… awkwardness, confrontations, small bladders and big bills find us. And so do cancer and bankruptcy, betrayal and divorce, mental illness and learning disabilities, family dysfunction and friendship drama. Worry is so sneaky and fierce that it finds us at work, in bed, driving on the freeway, in waiting rooms and… even in spas.
Worry finds us, so we must, in its midst, find God.
We must look for God, claim God, trust God, talk to God, point to God, reflect on God, praise God, count on God, meditate on God, and find our peace in God. Worry has a way of convincing us that all of our worst fears will become a reality. And it is in the anticipation of what we fear might become our story, that we must find God as our Author.
When some lady rubs lavender oil on your toes and your mind races about all the ways you might fail, finding God in the midst of worry looks like laying on a massage table and reaching out to the One bigger than you and calling on God to be who God says He is. God reveals who He is in Scripture and you can go looking for Him to be who He promises to be… “You, God are a God who promises good, redemption, peace, forgiveness, love. You, God have a plan for my life. You are a God who doesn’t write stories that end in failure. You actually wrote the very best Story and it ends in victory. (1 Corinthians 15) So, God I am counting on you to write a story of victory out of my life, even when I fail.”
When your kids are distraught by worry, finding God looks like coming alongside them in their fret. And instead of just preaching all the “right” things they need to do to succeed or make things better, you get down on your knees. Bend over the side of their bed when they lay there stressed out and you go looking for God. It’s okay to humble yourself to the place as a parent where you actually admit you have no idea how to make things better and that, actually, all your attempts might not be enough. It’s okay to say as a parent to your child “We need Something bigger than ourselves.” Then go looking for God with your kid… “God we come to you for help. We don’t know what we are doing or how to make this better. But God we trust that You do. Your ways are higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55) Will you guide us? Will you show us what to do? Will you be powerful? We are looking for you. We are your kids and we need you.”
When we are experiencing a job change and we have no idea what’s next and worry already has us convinced that we will soon be homeless, unable to pay our mortgage, working some lame job we are overqualified for, while we apply for a thousand jobs and get none because we were born before 1990… finding God looks like searching for Him with the same ferocity we’ve brought to the job market. When you don’t know “what’s next,” go finding God- He knows. You can call upon Him and say… “God, You know all things. You even know what is best for me. God will You show me what is next? Help me not to force, coerce, manufacture or manipulate a direction for my life that isn’t Yours. God you are a come alongside, personal, intervening, alive and well God (Matthew 1). You are a God who shows up, runs into and collides with people, collide with me and be my What’s Next.”Worry will find you. Go finding God. Don’t just let your fear boss you around. Don’t let stress overcome you. Don’t let your anxiety get you pacing down some hypothetical bunny trail that might not end up being your reality. No, you go looking for what is real- your God. You go find Him. Acts 17 actually says we were made for finding God. We are here at this very time and this very place, in 2018, to seek, reach out and find God. Verse 28 encourages “Though He is not far from us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.”
God is nearer to you than the worry that stops by to visit. Don’t give your worry more power than you give your God. As soon as you start to get anxious, making up stories, pacing, biting your nails, drinking to self soothe, gossiping to take out an enemy, overworking to keep your worry from becoming a reality, or writing the next chapter before it’s even begun, go finding God.
When you go finding something, you look for it with intensity. When you go finding something, you think about where you last saw it, and you return there. When you go finding something, you call its name. When you go finding something, you turn over everything it might be under. Find God with the same ferocity that worry finds you and I promise you, One shall overcome the other. And when it does, His peace shall surpass your understanding, His presence shall kick out your fear, and His promises shall be your hope.
When worry finds you, you go finding God.
If you’d love to find more resources we have a 5 Week Guide to Help Manage Your Anxiety and Bible Study called the Birds & the Lilies. You can also access other free resources on anxiety here.