Originally published Monday, 04 June 2012.
I remember a sermon at my old church, a few years ago. Our pastor was preaching on worry and our need to give our anxieties over to God.
He used the example of an email. "It's like if you get an email, and instead of opening it up and reading it, you immediately forward it on to God. You don't even look at it, you just forward it on."
It sounds great. I loved the imagery it gave to the situation.
But I wrestled with it for weeks, months probably, as I asked again and again: "How do I not open it?! How do I forward it on and forget about it?!"
I remember the desire burning within me to not let worries and anxieties run my life as they had for more than two decades. I remember talking on the phone to a friend, beseeching them about this mystery of how to just "give it over" to God.
It was something I could not wrap my head around.
Finally, I determined to memorize Philippians 4:6-7, which counseled me: "Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
That was the key, for me, to understand this Christian catchphrase of "giving my worries over to God."
It isn't enough to just stuff them in an envelope and forget about them, because that's not the way worrying works. But praying about them—even if it just looks like telling God everything he already knows about what we're feeling and what we want—somehow ushers in his peace in quite a mysterious way while we wait on his answers.
In sharing these worries and anxieties with him in prayer, he gently reminds us that it's not all up to us, that he is guiding us, that he intervenes in even the most mundane of interactions, that he knows what he is doing and what he is allowing, that our character matters more to him than our convenience.
And we slip into that place of trust where we know that God is bigger than our circumstances and that it's all safely in his hands. We stop worrying because we know that we can trust God with whatever is happening and however it turns out.
It has been a learning process for me, this "giving it over to God," that has happened only gradually over the past few years. I'm not quite sure exactly how it happened or when. But God was gracious in leading me through this great mystery of learning how to let him have these things.
Of course, I still find myself running frantic with worries, even over the most trivial of things. Again and again, I have to admonish myself to give words to these worries, to whisper them to the heavens and let them soar up there to stay.
So I curl up and tell God what's worrying me. I ask him, sometimes over and over again, to take care of this for me. To settle my heart. To take this worry from my hands. I don't know how to do it on my own. I don't know if I even can do it on my own. But I know that he can—and he will—take and bear that burden for me.
Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be.
Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."
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Giving God the Control: Even in My Anxieties