I continue to be blessed by Jim Martin’s writings. Here’s a recent story he shared that provides a practical tool for dealing with worry and anxiety…
What do you do with your worry? Unfortunately, at times I have given worry a front row seat in my mind. Then, at 3:00 AM, I awaken and rehearse the “What ifs?” which only adds fuel to the worry. (I am all too familiar with this!) For others, worry and anxiety may spill over into relationships. As a result, words may be sharp and curt. We may blame others for our problems or project our anger onto them.
I heard Steve Cuss refer to a tool that he found helpful and recommended to his listeners. He suggested processing a situation with these three questions:
- What is yours to carry?
- What is theirs to carry?
- What is God’s to carry?
Perhaps you are worried or anxious about a family member, a work project, or a church situation.
What is yours to carry? What is your role, your job, or your responsibility in this situation? Your task may be to manage your own emotions and behavior instead of reacting. Or, your task may be to speak in a calm voice even though the people around you are highly anxious.
What is theirs to carry? A particular decision may belong to others. You are not responsible for someone else’s feelings or functioning. You are responsible for how you behave and how you function. This is a reminder that at times we may worry about things for which we have absolutely no control.
What is God’s to carry? What is completely in God’s hands? I have found passages such as Philippians 4:4-9 both helpful and encouraging.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
God is near. He is present! As a Christ-follower, I can present my requests to God, believing that his presence matters.
The following might be helpful as you and I grapple with difficulties:
- Pray for clarity regarding the situation, the conflict or the mess. Take charge of your own behavior and your own functioning in this situation.
- Take a blank piece of paper (or blank document on a screen) and write down the three questions from Steve Cuss (above). This tool can help in processing the problem as you get clear about what you are and are not responsible for.
This tool has really helped me, particularly when I have felt completely overwhelmed by a particular problem. Perhaps you will find this helpful.