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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)

TITLE: Kicking the Worry Habit
By Verlie Ruhl


I come from a long line of worriers. For instance, no one in my family will admit to my elderly father that they aren’t feeling well. He is famous for calling the ill person every half hour to ask if they are feeling better until finally, out of desperation, they lie and say they feel just fine. I’m sure he was influenced by my grandmother, who lived her life with a perverse anticipation of tragedy. If my grandfather was late, she would sit me down at the window to watch the dirt road for his old sea-green Jimmy pickup. I always took this to mean that his survival depended on my exhibiting the appropriate level of anxiety.

On my mother’s side, a darker thread runs through the family tree. My maternal great-grandmother committed suicide. No one knows much about her--her children refused to discuss her. But many of her descendents struggle with a hereditary tendency toward depression, so we can guess at the pain and despair which ended her life. Given my family history, it won’t surprise you that peace of mind has never been my special gift. After all, it was my duty to worry, and I did it well.

But then there was Sheila. She was a Christian friend with whom I had worked for years. She had an effervescent personality, not giddy but always upbeat, always smiling, always caring about others. Her face would glow with pride when she told me about her son, a star football player and a good student. I asked if the teen years were as tough for parents as I’d heard. She said, “Don’t believe that stuff—-I’ve always enjoyed my kids.”

One day Sheila didn’t come to work. A murmur ran through the office—-her son had been killed the evening before in a horrific car crash. I felt sick for my friend. How does anyone survive the loss of a child? I dreaded seeing her, knowing that her joyful personality would be shrouded in grief. It was a couple of weeks before Sheila came back to work. I didn’t realize she had returned until she passed me in the hall—-with the normal bounce in her step, and a smile on her face. When I hugged her and told her how sorry I was, she hugged me back and said, “I miss him so much--but I know where he is. He’s with the Lord. It’s O.K.” My friend did grieve. There were dark shadows under her eyes, and she confessed that she often was awake in the early hours of the morning. But her calm demeanor revealed a stubborn peace that persisted in spite of the storm which enveloped her.

God tells us repeatedly through scripture not to worry. This isn’t a vague assurance that everything will eventually be O.K. The Lord is the omnipotent and omniscient creator of the universe, and he commands us to lay down our fear and to trust him. But after a lifetime of practice, it isn’t easy to kick the worry habit.

The Bible tells us how to change our thoughts. “Be still, and know that I am God. . . .” Psalm 46:10 (NIV). He gives us permission to quiet our racing minds, and find rest in him. Isaiah 46:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” (NIV) Keeping our minds fixed on the Lord, meditating on his word, provides us with peace that the world cannot begin to understand.

Don’t let the difficulties of life discourage you. God doesn’t promise us an absence of trials, but he does promise that he will get us through the rough spots. Look at Isaiah 41:13: “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (NIV) Can you imagine that? The Lord is longing to take you by the hand, and help you through whatever it is that paralyzes you with fear. He deserves your trust. Let him give you peace.

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This article has been read 571 times
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I sit here sobbing because of this piece you've written. It is extraordinary. I too am a worrier. It's like I have a gargantuan demon whose purpose it is to torment me in this regard. You are so right about trusting God, though it's often difficult for me. Thank you so much. I am going to print this, and meditate on it today.
Helen Murray09/20/07
We do have to discipline ourselves to become consistent with God's peace, but it sure is possible! Very powerful story.
Deborah Engle 09/22/07
Effectively and well done. Thanks for writing this piece.
Sheri Gordon09/24/07
This is a really good devotional. While there is nothing "revolutionary" in it -- what more can be said that isn't already in the Bible, right? -- your writing very effectively communicates the truthfulness and importance of God's message to us. Very nice job. :)
c clemons09/26/07
I really liked this piece. My mother is the queen of all worriers and she has immense fear of everything. Although we constantly tell her the opposite of faith is fear.
It really is simple but those who believe God just can't seem to believe him in that area. Your article was very concise and well organized and would be a great devotional. I hope it places.
Jacquelyn Horne09/27/07
Good advice here.
Joanne Sher 09/28/07
Congratulations, Verlie. Your entry has placed 6th in Level 2. The Lists for the Top 15 in each Level and the Top 40 overall are available in the Weekly Results and Highest Rankings forum of our Faithwriters Message Boards.