If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. Proverbs 24:10 KJV
If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!
Proverbs 24:10 NLT
Just a couple of weeks ago when the pressures of packing and sorting and moving collided with news of my father’s failing health, I faltered… fainted… imploded in a great revealing of the smallness of my own strength.
And ever since that day I’ve been afraid of doing it again.
The chest tightens up.
Heart speeds up.
Worries well up.
And some of you know exactly what I’m talking about: fear of fear.
Once unreasonable fear has wrapped you in its grip and pulled you under to a place of panic, you will forever fear the fear.
The fear itself becomes more frightening than whatever it was that scared you.
And it leaves you weak. Small of strength. Faltering. Fainting.
Just the woman, just the way, I do not want to be.
And so I have set out on a quest for wisdom from the Wise One who promises wisdom if we’ll only ask. (James 1:5) Every morning I’ve been up early, asking for Him to show me the way out this chest tightening anxiety that is so fearsome, so weakening, so… not what I want.
I’m filling my journal with scribbles and stories of His words to me about the how and why and when and what-to-do when I worry too much.
It’s time I pass some of those lessons on to you. Because you worry too. Too much. Too often. And you’re being weakened by the worry.
Here, my girls, is
Lesson #1 About Worry:
Anxiety starts with that first socially permissible step called fretfulness.
Intense anxiety is not, as some would lead us to believe, purely biological in basis. No one falls into a full-blown anxiety attack out of nowhere.
And anxiety is not some sort of guerilla tactic of the Evil One that hits us out of the blue. Instead, the enemy of our souls sneaks in to exploit our weaknesses, hoping to render us ineffective and weak.
Though the dark spiritual and the physical may need to be examined, that is not where anxiety starts.
Anxiety starts with fretting— those socially permissible comments we toss out in conversation.
I’m worried about…
I’m afraid that…
And instead of taking those first alerting signals to the Father we try them out on other people. What’s been silently brewing inside comes bubbling up and we hand the words to those who care about us, hoping they’ll make it go away.
They, in turn, often dismiss our worries and say something inane like, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”
Which makes us go underground again. Only now that we’ve put all those jumbled thoughts into words we know what we’re worried about.
So we pray about it. After all, we’re told to pray about everything, right?
Well, sort of. But I’ve learned that there is praying… and there is praying.
How many hours have I fussed at God in the name of prayer? Gone on long rambling prayer walks where I worried out loud at Him the whole way. Telling Him what to do, how to go about doing it, when He needs to get on it.
That, my dear girls, is not praying. It is spiritual fretfulness. Just the kind of thing that shuts out His voice and shuts in the worry.
Do not fret. It leads only to evil doing.
Psalm 37:8 NASB
Fretting, we are warned, leads not to solutions, but to doings. Evil doings. Bad stuff.
The frightening, weakening, embarrassing episode of intense fear I experienced a couple of weeks ago did not start with whatever it was that tipped me over the edge.
I began that walk to the edge of the cliff with a slow meander onto the pleasant path of acceptable fretting.
And that is right where I must stop the worry if I’m going to be free of it. Fretting cannot be tolerated. Like an alcoholic who dare not take a sip, I’ve been warned now about where worry leads.
It is time for me to take that slightest tightening of my chest and turn it into a question for my Father.
“Why am I worried Abba?”
To talk to Him. To listen. To confess that… I am afraid and short on trust and taking on too much and wishing I hadn’t and what’s wrong with me?
And then to let Him do His redeeming thing on me, in me, through me, to me.
It’s just a small lesson, I know. But it’s a start. A realization that I am weak. That worry has weakened me. That it starts with fretting. That apart from Him I’m a mess.
That He loves this mess that is me enough to get to root of it so He can get rid of what weakens me.
Isn’t that just amazing grace?
From my heart,
 That said, a check up is wise when experiencing the physical symptoms of anxiety. All it takes is a few out of order hormones or a broken down thyroid to slip some people over the edge from ordinary worry to panic attacks.