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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cheerful words in - anxiety out

Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up. 
(Proverbs 12:25)

Yesterday, we considered the value of a well-spoken word.  Today, we look at another "relationship" issue - worry.  What does worry have to do with relationship?  Glad you asked!  Worry must be understood in order to see the impact it has on us - both in our relationship with God and in relationship with others.

Worry can be defined as those things (thoughts, attitudes, actions) that choke or strangle us - consuming our energy, choking the "life" out of our relationships.  Worry impacts relationships because it is a behavior that "takes away from" the relationship - because our attention, thoughts, and activities are directed toward whatever it is we are worrying over.  

An old-fashion definition of worry was to touch or bother something repeatedly.  The idea of "bothering" or "repeatedly revisiting" something impacts relationships   because what we have a tendency to revisit would be better off left alone.  There are things we come back to over and over again that should have been left at the feet of Jesus a long time ago.  Whenever we find ourselves "bothering" that issue again, we reopen wounds, impact trust, etc.

Probably the most telling definition of worry as it applies to impacting relationships is that of subjecting someone or something to persistent attention - we call this nagging!  Sometimes we have a tendency to "overdo" our attentiveness to a particular issue - "worrying" it to death!  This only serves to repeatedly direct attention to something that has very little opportunity to yield much in the way of results.

Most of us think of worry as that "niggling" feeling we call "anxiety".  This is an accurate definition, as well - it also has an impact on our relationships (both with God and with each other).  Whenever we find it a "huge effort" to proceed or make forward progress, we are usually struggling with some type of "anxiety" over the forward movement.  Fret as we might, we can actually change very little in our life.  It would be better to spend some time with wise counsel, the Word, and in prayer.  In the end, we would have an ordered, progressive approach to that which is making us anxious in the first place.

Worry only serves to weigh us down.  It presents huge emotional burdens that have a negative effect of disheartening the one under the weight.  It saps our strength and energy.  In the end, we experience "relational" failures that bring "rifts" that seem to drive us apart (both with our fellow man and with God).  But God reminds us to cast our burdens (weights) on him.  

Where do we find cheerful words?  Wise counsel, time alone with God, in his word - but not all that we hear will seem "cheerful".  A word spoken or made alive from the pages of the word of God in the appropriate timing is able to produce "cheerfulness" in our weary soul.  It may not be causing us to jump up and down with "glee", but it sets us in the right direction, and that brings rest to our weariness.  Wherever there is rest, there is "cheer".