“Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12: 3-7)
Following our presidential election, many of us are fearful about radical changes in the future of our country. Some find themselves weeping or complaining, like Jesus when he looked down at Jerusalem. How do we move beyond these concerns, you might ask? How do we experience the peace of the Holy Spirit?
Fears and worries are part of an early warning system that alerts us to the possibility of an upcoming storm. These emotions then trigger our imaginations. Fear or worry is not the problem. The problem is getting stuck in a disastrous, or short-circuited, replay of the worst that could happen, that cripples us in our capacity to love. We need God’s intervention into our imaginations. We must invite Jesus to enter into our hearts alongside these unproductive fears and worries, since such an unbalanced state is contrary to the good news of Jesus Christ, doctor, healer, and Savior.
1) Give yourself room to worry.
Set aside a specific time each day to worry (10 min.) Do it at the beginning or end of the day in a place you will not be interrupted. Then move from ‘ worry time’ and into personal prayer time, by calling on Jesus.
2) Tell yourself the truth.
Keep a journal of your worries: the details, and the possible outcomes. Telling the truth keeps worry at a moderate level. Such a level of worry can stimulate creative solutions to your problem. Write whatever solutions occur to you in your journal, no matter how wild or impossible they seem right now. You might also consider reading From Fear to Faith: A Worrier’s Guide to Discovering Peace by Gary Zimak.
3) Vocalize the things that cause you to fear.
Worry can ruin your sleep and turn your dreams into horror movies. Try to pinpoint the exact triggers of fear and worry. Share your fears with someone you can trust (who has a sense of humor). And listen to your friend’s fears, as well. Then ask, “What is the worst that could happen?” Listen to the details. Avoid unsolicited advice, but ask if you might pray a simple prayer with them.
4) Avoid extreme, paralyzing fear.
Break the train of worried thoughts by focusing on your surroundings. Describe the room you are in, what’s on a desk or a table near you? What do you see out the window? Breathe deeply and relax your muscles. Use your normal resources to moderate fear: proper exercise, proper eating, hobbies, adequate sleep, and daily personal prayer (15 to 30 min. to start).
5) Visualize transformation through Jesus.
You are like a poet, artist or prophet who has the sensitivity to spot problems, and to dream the dreams that will transform the problem. Take time to face the worrisome reality and see Jesus, walking toward you across the churning waters of your fears, saying, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” (Mark 6:50) Visualize what Jesus would do next for you.