Settled, Sure, and Sane
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7)
When we are presented with alternatives, we are being given a choice. If you have ever gone into a restaurant with pages and pages of menu items, bound together in a spiral bound book of sorts, you probably have been so frustrated by all the choices you just chose your old "stand by" because you couldn't read through them all before the waitress returned! When the choices are many, the anxiety associated with making the "right" choice is significantly higher than when the choices are simply this or that. At least we stand a 50/50 chance of getting our choice right with the latter example, but with the spiral-bound menu of choices, who knows what the odds might be? There is something to be said about "limiting the choices", isn't there? I don't give small children a litany of choices - I present one or the other. Why? When presented with each choice, they usually want them both - when presented with fifty items, they want them all - but they can only have one! It is much easier to teach right choices when the options are fewer! God knows this, too! So does the enemy of our souls! He knows presenting us with so many choices which baffle our minds is a good place to get us in the middle of a muddle. He likes it when we are in a muddle!
Increased demands are just as befuddling to us as are too many choices! When the demands on our schedules, skills, or services are many, the anxiety associated with the increasing demand increases. If choices and demands can increase our anxiety to fever-pitch, maybe it is time we learn how to collaborate with the only one who can really direct us to the right choice and settle us into a place of inner peace in the midst of the chaos. Learning to shape our choices and stressors into prayers is fundamental to keeping ourselves out of the middle of the muddle. Too many think prayers have to be these elaborate, well-orchestrated, divine sounding, stop all activity, get on your knees kind of words lifted to the heavens. The Lord has heard more "fly-by" prayers from me in my times of increased demand and uncertain choices than I can shake a stick at! If I waited to get down onto my knees, I'd never get things sorted out! All God desires is for us to make our concerns known to him - he doesn't care if it is on the "fly" or on our knees! He just wants the opportunity to connect.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been in the middle of a mess of stress and just asked him to give me guidance - short and sweet. Right there, he begins to settle in around me with his peace and I can focus on what matters, getting direction on how to proceed and then it seems like the stressors get put into the right perspective. When things are in the right perspective - or at least I can see them from that perspective - they look a lot less "anxiety-laden" than they did before! "It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Life happens at a pace we can barely manage sometimes. In those moments of "over-activity" and "increased anxiety", it is good to re-center, re-connect, and re-commit. We change our focus from the increasing demand and innumerable choices toward Christ and his leading in those moments. We take a moment or two to just offer up those prayers and then just listen. We may think we don't have the time to listen but remember this - the amount of time you invest in listening equates to less time in the midst of the muddle. Re-committing is really the outcome of the first two - when we get our focus right and allow our hearts to be connected to the one who knows the answers, the ability to make the choice in front of us or deal with the demand which is the most urgent becomes apparent. Most of the time it only takes a moment to allow the sense of God's wholeness to permeate our inner core and settle us right down. Just sayin!