If Worry & Anxiety is Choking the Life Out of You …

We were traveling back from visiting my husband’s brother and his family in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and had about 2 hours left on our trip. We stopped at Sam’s Club to stock up on groceries and other items that we don’t have in our small town. I had my four kids with me while Jeremiah was taking care of something at the guest services desk and as I was pushing the shopping cart, anxiety and panic came over me. My three and four-year-old were running ahead and refusing to listen.

From the music blaring through the speakers, the busy shoppers, and stimulation in front of me, I broke down. I went over to the counter where Jeremiah was and left the kids and the big cart at his feet. I darted for the tire aisle so I could hide myself behind all that black rubber and cry. The anxiety and fear was so intense within me that I felt hopeless.

Eventually, my gracious husband took all the kids and did the shopping while I got myself together and cooled off in the car. I was on overload, exhausted from traveling, and unable to deal with the demands in front of me. He didn’t quite know what to think or do with me. I didn’t either.

If you’ve ever been in a place similar to mine, you know that trusting God in the smallest details of your life can be hard especially if anxiety is a daily battle raging in your heart and mind. I often wonder why he tells us so much in Scripture, “Do not fear, Don’t be afraid, Fear not.” 365 times! And how in Matthew, Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more of value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:26-27)

That day I’d failed to trust that God could in fact get me through that store with all my kids in tow. I feared them getting lost, stolen, and just the sense of losing complete control (something I love to have). I was fearing everything that day. I was choosing not to abide in Jesus for the help he could provide. I failed to realize that he cares for me as a mom of young children, too. Honestly, I didn’t believe that he saw me that day.

God feeds and cares for the birds of the air. He’s watching over them and I am more valuable? He says that I am. If we are more precious to him than the birds, than how much more does he care about our daily lives? He desires that we trust in his provision for each day. Each hour. Each minute. When we know and believe that he is watching out for our best, loves us infinitely, and longs to provide for us spiritually, emotionally, and physically, worry and anxiety slowly begin to take the back seat. Through a process, we begin trusting God at his Word and that he will do what he says.

Like the birds of the air, we too, are called to live in freedom and not in bondage to our fears and anxieties. But this can’t be done in our own strength. We must be fully dependent on the Lord for help. Recognizing our tendency towards anxiety is the first step– call it exactly what it is. Asking God for help and believing that he will is the next step.

May we be women who cry out more often: “God, help me!”

May we cry out in humility, dependance, and faith that He will answer our need for peace, calm, and hope in our hearts no matter what challenge we’re facing– great or small.

I still struggle with going inside public places with all my kids. I rarely brave big stores with the four. But they are growing older, listening better, and getting easier to juggle when we have to go out. I’m learning to give my anxiety to the Lord. I’m learning that worry robs me of his peace and joy, and more than anything I desire to have a life that is abundant, trusting in his goodness because that is what he wants for me.

I want to live in freedom like the birds do. I know I will fall, but I am striving for His strength working through me. Will you join me?

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. Read more from her book, Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

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When You Fear People More Than God

As Christians brought up in the church, this particular young woman and her boyfriend struggled with their purity. Eventually, they found out they were pregnant and considered having an abortion. All kinds of thoughts brewed through their mind:

We know abortion is wrong, but it would be devastating if people in the church found out we were pregnant.

Getting pregnant out of wedlock is the worst sin imaginable.

People would never look or treat us the same again.

We can’t let anyone know we’ve been living in sin and having sex.

Other thoughts ran through their mind and they just couldn’t bare the thought of keeping their baby and the turmoil they would experience from others. They eventually made their decision and sadly ended the life of their innocent child.

This story isn’t a whole lot different than the real-life stories laced throughout Scripture that involve men and women who trusted and put their hope in people more than God. The Bible calls it the “fear of men.”

I’m going through a Bible study with my seminary wives small group on fear and anxiety and I thought these questions were very helpful when it comes to pinpointing what the fear of men might look like in our every day lives. The author of the study, Edwards Welch, asks:

  • Have you ever struggled with peer pressure?
  • Have you ever been overly concerned about your appearance?
  • Have you ever been tempted to get plastic surgery?
  • Do you find that your view of yourself fluctuates on the basis of your achievements or the opinions of others?
  • Do you show favoritism?
  • Do you ever say yes when you should say no?
  • Do your public actions look much better than your private thoughts and behaviors?
  • Have you ever had a difficult time loving someone because you didn’t feel loved by that person?
  • Do you ever struggle with jealousy?
  • Have you ever been scared to talk about Jesus with someone for fear that the person would think differently of you?

From time to time, I struggle with all those questions (some more than others) minus the plastic surgery one because well… that freaks me out.

The danger in fearing other people is that we allow them to control us. We make decisions based on what they think or say. We fear the consequence if we let them down. We put our hope and faith in them instead of what God thinks or would have us do. And it’s a bit of a “subtle” sin.

But thank goodness there is a solution to being obsessed with what other people think of us. And it comes in four beautiful letters:

L O V E

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18

Welch describes it like this: “God took all the initiative. He loved you while you were an enemy of his. He loves you now not because you are great, but because he is love. Such love is unwavering and secure. The Cross of Jesus- the ultimate evidence of God’s love- establishes it.”

God’s unconditional love is our motivation to trust in Him. He knows what is best. He is watching out for us. And he is guiding our path as he desires. And if we ever doubt him, we need only to fix our eyes on the cross that he died upon to remember His love.

When we look to Him, this world and what it “thinks” tends to fade away.

I personally know the young couple who had the abortion. For many years they dealt with guilt, shame, regret, depression, and major emotional, physical, and spiritual turmoil. They eventually learned that the people in the church they’d feared were far from perfect too. They just looked good on the outside and were able to say the right words.

While this couple still naturally carries guilt and shame at times, they have accepted God’s forgiveness and love and have forgiven themselves. They are open about sharing their mistakes and they’re learning what it means to trust in God, rather than in men.

Fearing, Loving, and Reverencing God more than men.

How liberating and God-glorifying to live life in such a way.

Remembering Scott McCreedy: Friend & Faithful Reader

Scott McCreedy left a mark on so many lives with his smile, genuine spirit, and servant’s heart. I met Scott in the 6th grade at Southwest Middle School in High Point, NC.

I remember taking classes with Scott, that he was a gifted soccer player, was one of the first guys in our class to grow facial hair, and that everyone liked Scott (especially the girls!).

I graduated from high school with him in 2000. From 2000-2009, I didn’t know Scott but when we reconnected on Facebook a few years ago, I found out he had served our country in the Navy as a rescue swimmer and I was so proud of him.

In July 2009, he sent a Facebook message to me out of the blue that I had saved. Here’s what it said:

Thanks.

Hey Samantha,

I just wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying reading your Blogs… I am going through a tough transition in my life and your thoughts/words are really helpful… thanks and god bless…. keep reaching out, there are alot out there who need it.

Best for you and your family,

Scott

I didn’t know Scott was reading my blog and ironically, I was going through a time where I wanted to quit blogging. His note encouraged me to keep pressing on and that God was speaking to his heart. Just a few weeks ago, he “liked” a new Facebook page I had created and a quote I posted by A.W. Tozer. I was very appreciative of his continued support and encouragement with my writing.

That was the last I really “heard” from him and yesterday I found out the shocking news that he had taken his life. I had trouble sleeping last night and my heart just breaks again today. My husband has been helping me process it all.

Scott’s father wrote a very thoughtful post on Facebook explaining Scott’s struggle with depression and his request that we pray for God’s mercy and love. I appreciated that his father took the time to share his heart. It helped bring peace to my heart.

Many people I know battle with depression, anxiety, and hopelessness on a daily basis. I have dealt with some anxiety and depression (postpartum) after having my second child. No one ever fully knows a person’s situation or struggle and the darkness they feel. I think it’s important to be compassionate and not judgmental towards those who are experiencing such inner turmoil and pain.

I am thankful that on the cross, Jesus crushed sin and death once and for all and that today, our ultimate hope is in Him. The historical resurrection of Christ is our present hope that Jesus will fulfill his promises in the future when he will heal the hurting hearts and bring life to those who love and trust in Him.

I believe that Scott is with His Savior and that all his tears and pain have been wiped away. My heart is sad because his life has been cut short, but I’m looking forward to when we will all experience a fullness and an abundance to life that none of us have yet seen or known.

We love you Scott and you will be missed greatly.

** Additional resources if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one:

Coping with Death and Grief- Focus on the Family article

What Happens When You Die? John Piper Audio Sermon and article

A Christian Perspective on Grief– audio

Don’t Be Afraid

FearlessHB_LThe economy, global warming, finances, job losses, health care, swine flu… Behind these issues often comes the word FEAR. A lot of us are living lives in fear and can’t seem to tackle it. I’ve definitely had fears and struggles when it comes to those things.

But God has been showing me more of his love lately and it’s been casting shadows on the fears I’ve had inside. When I go to his word, I’m strengthened because he addresses my very fears (amazing how He knows them all) and gives me such indescribable love and peace.

1 John 4:18 says it beautifully: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I love how John says that perfect love drives out fear. If we live lives constantly overwhelmed by fear, we’ll never have the life God wants for us. We’ll never experience the depths of his love. Our goal is to be made perfect in love, and not fear. The way to do this is to cast our cares, worries, and concerns upon Him. To literally throw them on him. And he will take care of our burdens for us.

A few months back, I had the opportunity to meet mega bestselling author and master storyteller, Max Lucado. I absolutely loved meeting him and talking with him for a little bit. He just had this great peace about him. You just wanted to be around him. He barely answered the questions I had for him. He just wanted to know more about me and my family and what I did.

My work was interviewing him for some small group training videos to help leaders across the country. We asked him some questions about fear, keeping in mind he was writing a book called Fearless. Max’s clip has been edited and you can check it out here at SmallGroupExchange.com.

If fear is something you really struggle with, in addition to finding all you will ever need in God’s word, be sure to pre-order Max’s book to get another glimpse on the topic of fear.

Monday Wake-up Call

This past Monday, I went to bed consumed by fear, worry, and anxiety. It all started when a few coworkers of mine were briefly talking about the potential Health Care plan and its implications on our insurance and America as a whole. After we talked, my thoughts just began to snowball into thinking about the crazy czar’s that Obama is surrounding himself with (Just check out GlennBeck.com), communism, socialism, a one world economy, end times, the anti-Christ, the rapture, and wondering if a New World Order is coming? I know it sounds crazy. And I’m really not I promise.

Everything just kind of got to me that day. I acted differently around Jeremiah. I laid down with a headache and woke up with one. But on Tuesday, something changed.

I realized I had been a little ignorant of what’s been going in our world. Maybe for a reason because turning on the news can be depressing. But I realized that I was letting all those things affect me so much as if I had never heard about them. As if I had no hope. I was encouraged by a friend to be more aware of what’s going on. To be educated. And most of all- TO WAKE UP! to the crisis that we’re really in as a nation.

So… my goal this month is to be more informed but not to be so affected that I’m not the person I want to be. To worry a little less and trust that whatever the next few years hold for our country, that God is moving at the same time- somehow, some way. Even though evil is clearly and tangibly at work, Good is right there with it. His plan is unfolding and if anything, we’re getting a little bit closer to His return…

So if that’s the case and His return is in fact near, then I need to get back to work and start focusing on eternal things.

Orange Air & Anxious Thoughts

APW_orangeA lot of mornings in Dallas, there are what you call “orange air pollution” watches. I saw one on the marquees driving down the interstate this morning. I was also notified via radio. I can’t quite figure out what action they want me to take when they tell me about this orange air. Do they want me to turn around and carpool with someone last minute? Am I supposed to hide inside all day, in hopes that my respiratory system won’t be exposed? Do I need to text all my friends and tell them to stay inside? If anything, all these watches do is make me worry instead of take caution.

I got an email from a friend yesterday. She shared some of her struggles with having a “controlling, anxious personality.” I struck a chord with that. I battle anxious thoughts every day: Will I get sleep tonight? Will my brother in law be okay when he deploys to Afghanistan in a few months? Am I communicating well in my marriage? Is America going to recover from the current condition we’re in and are we really protecting ourselves well from terrorism?  And then it’s the more simple things like What will I eat next? Am I staying healthy? Will I survive my 15k tomorrow? Will I make it to that appointment on time?

God knew that we would be people of worry and he knew it would be one of my main struggles. He knew that I would have to refer back to this verse 10,000 times to remind myself: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-8).

So what’s the solution to worry and anxious thoughts? PRAY. Petition. Be thankful. Present all your concerns to God- yes that means your laundry list. But make sure you LISTEN. Complain to him. Talk to him. Believe in him. Depend on him. Have faith that he will answer. Rely on truth that he deeply cares about what you think. Stand firm in his power to give you strength to endure this life. SURRENDER.

Then what? His peace will consume you and guard your life. You won’t be able to explain it because it transcends human comprehension. Your anxious thoughts will be turned into thoughts of trusting in someone Greater.

So, what do you need to give Him today? Do you trust that he will carry whatever burdens you have?

Well I guess the next time I see “Air Pollution: Orange” I’ll be reminded that God is in control, even when we do stupid things to our environment.

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