“Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27
Worrying is not helpful, but that doesn’t mean we don’t become overwhelmed and caught in a cycle of worry, sleeplessness, and fear.
Dr. Laurel Shaler shares how we can manage our worry by gaining strength through the Word of God.
“Nagging worry is a problem for us and I wish it wasn’t. Jesus talks a lot about not being afraid. He devotes a portion of Matthew 6 to instructing us not to worry. We know that He’s going to take care of every single detail of our life. We also know that worry does not add a single moment to our lives, and yet we continue to worry.”
Dr. Shaler discusses the cycle of worry and explains what happens if we continue to let it manifest in our lives.
“It keeps us up tossing and turning all night, and it really has to do with our excessive concern over our circumstances or our lack of control. It’s like a record on repeat; it just keeps going over and over and over in our mind, and that worry chokes us.”
“I believe what happens is, as Mark tells us, that worry chokes out the Word of God. As a result, we’re not able to focus on the truth that Jesus tells us ‘not to worry,’ because we’re not even able to really reflect on His Word.”
She offers a few helpful tips on how to manage the worry that we are experiencing and focus in on God’s truth.
“One would be to just write down what you’re worrying about. Journaling is extremely therapeutic and it’s often recommended by mental health professionals. It helps us process what we’re experiencing by writing out the situation we’re dealing with; what we’re thinking, how we’re feeling, etc., and it allows us to take those thoughts out of our mind and put them on paper. It doesn’t mean we will never think about it again, but I found that it really allows us a release of emotion.”
“Journaling also lets us keep track of our prayer requests and the answers to our prayers. It helps us to see how Jesus is present in the midst of our most confusing and trying moments. Our emotions, although they might be legitimate, they don’t have to dictate the outcome.”
Another way that we can manage our worry is through a guided imagery exercise.
“As you lie in your bed, close your eyes, and imagine that you go to sleep and when you wake up you’re somewhere that is really comforting for you. I give an example of waking up in Israel; standing on the sandy shore of the Sea of Galilee, standing where Jesus stood, and imagining Jesus walking toward you and him telling you these words that He tells us in the Bible: ‘Come to me and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).”
“Sometimes when we’re anxious, our imagination runs away with us. This type of exercise is a way of using our imagination to bring hope and healing rather than worry.”
We don’t have to let worry control our lives anymore. With God’s help we can let go of worry, reclaim our sanity, and embrace His everlasting truth in our lives.
Laurel Shaler, PhD, is a professor at Liberty University and a speaker on faith and emotional well-being. A national certified counselor and social worker, Dr. Shaler is a former psychotherapist for the Department of Veterans Affairs, where she specialized in treating trauma. Dr. Shaler’s first book is titled Reclaiming Sanity: Hope and Healing for Trauma, Stress, and Overwhelming Life Events.