Posts tagged lessons

We lingered at the café, my friend and I, talking about how her life had fallen apart with her marriage and how she was learning, slowly, to trust God again. It hadn’t been easy.  After all the rejection and shame and horrors of her husband’s unfaithfulness, to believe that God cared seemed a stretch. After all, hadn’t she prayed and obeyed and done everything she could to get it right?

And hadn’t God failed to do His part? 

Nothing had worked out. Not the marriage, not the man, not the vice grip of addiction to sin that had strangled the life out of the once well-intentioned husband.

Who could blame her for worrying now? For hesitating to trust a God who hadn’t done what she’d been so sure He could and would and certainly should.

And that, my dear girls, is at the heart of all our worry.

That underlying knowing that God does not always do our bidding. That the platitudes aren’t true. That everything does not work out. That sometimes awful stuff happens and people don’t get healed and marriages do fall apart and we can’t do a thing to stop it.

In honest moments we wonder… 

How are we supposed to trust God with the truth?

You’ve heard the platitudes too, maybe spilled them on a hurting friend, that if we’ll…

only trust… let go and God let God… drum up enough belief… then God promises to work it all out for us.

A happy ending. Amen.

But life doesn’t work that way and neither does God.

Ask Paul. And Peter and John and James… their stories tell of a different kind of worry-free faith. Before pop-theology painted a gaudy façade over the truth. 

Every one of those men discovered a secret. Paul dubbed it The Secret.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

I know what it is to be in need,

and I know what it is to have plenty.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,

whether well fed or hungry,

whether living in plenty or in want.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 

Philippians 4:11-13 

Lesson #2 about Worry:

It’s not what I do that matters, it’s what Jesus has already done.

Here’s what I mean:

On that day a month or so ago when I melted down in a grand display of run-a-muk anxiety, at it’s root was worry.

  • Worry that I would fail
  • Worry that I wasn’t organized enough or good enough or able enough to do what I expected myself to do.
  • Worry that others would think less of me

But I’d forgotten something vital. I’d forgotten The Secret.

That whether I do right or do wrong…

Whether I am a shining example of organizational skills and stellar hard work, or a pathetic failure at anything admirable…

I am not the point.

My perfect performance is not the point. Whether my family is perfect or my job stellar or my bank balance growing, is not the point.

Because Jesus took me in all my inadequacy and placed me in His beauty. Its not about me anymore, its about Jesus. I, in all my brokenness, am hidden in Him, all tucked into His perfection.

As long as I remember that, my own less-than-perfect performance won’t destroy me.

And as long as I remember that, I don’t have to demand that God work everything out all hunky dory the way I wish it would be. 

And that, my dear friends is the reason Paul and Peter and James and John and all those others whose stories weren’t perfect could be content and at rest and filled with peace and joy and hope in the midst of the messiness of real life.

But see that lovely word again, dear friends, Paul learned.

And that’s what you’re doing.


Slowly but surely you and I are learning the how-to’s of being women at rest in Him. We are learning the Secret.

From my heart,



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


Dear girls,

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.[1] 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.

What if…

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,



[1] 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.