Maybe you don’t consider yourself an anxious Christian, but could you be worrying without even realising it? Here are 3 signs you could be secretly worrying and some solutions to help you trade your fear for faith.
As Christians we know, Jesus told us clearly ‘Do not worry’. We know that we shouldn’t worry but many of us get tangled in our day to day concerns without us even realising it. We don’t call it ‘worry’. We find other palatable terms. We say, ‘
I’m a planner’.
‘I like to have things all worked out’ .
‘I just want everyone to be happy’.
‘It has to be excellent to bring glory to God’.
None of these are bad things, but if the root of them is fear, then we could have a worry culprit on our hands.
Here are 3 signs that you could be in a secret battle with worry without even realising it.
1. You find it overwhelming to make decisions
Am I the only one who finds myself taking FOREVER to make simple decisions? Just this week I was filming a video for my Youtube Channel as I decluttered my wardrobe before we move. Watching the footage back, I was amazed by how long I stood there inspecting some items. I had a little pair of leather shoes that were falling apart but I ummed and ahhed about whether or not I should get rid of them.
Why do we find it so overwhelming to make simple decisions?
The root cause? FEAR. We are AFRAID OF MAKING THE WRONG DECISION. We count the costs. We weigh the variables. We fear what may happen if we make the wrong choice.
I didn’t realise how much I did this until I had children. After some time silently deliberating in my own mind, I often get it out of my head and ask my husband, ‘What do you think I should do? Do I continue to hold the baby so he sleeps, or do I risk putting him down so I can get this task done?’. ‘I don’t know if he is hungry and I should feed him more or I feed him, he will get an upset stomach’. Nic always turns it back on me and asks me what I think. He says a mother knows best and that it doesn’t matter what I do either way.
Sometimes these thoughts can be paralysing. You sit there for so long trying to make a decision that you end up just wasting time!
If you find yourself struggling to make decisions, you may find that you’ve been worrying without even realising it.
You’re critical and always second-guess yourself.
This is the second side to the coin for those of us who struggle to make decisions. We are in there with a fencing sword, fighting our thoughts and weighing potential outcomes in order to make the decision, only to find the battle is not over. The thoughts still come after the decision has been made. Thus, begins the stage of second-guessing ourselves, wondering if we have made the right decision, or punishing ourselves when the outcome doesn’t go as planned.
I heard this quote on a podcast and it has helped me so much. It said,
‘It’s not about making the right decision. It’s about making the decision right’.
This blew my mind. I rewound the podcast, grabbed a chalk marker and wrote it on my mirror where it sat as a daily reminder for once.
Here is an example of how I’d apply this to my life: I’d take my daughter out and she would fall asleep in the car. I’d think, ‘She must be tired. Do I turn the car off or do I sit and wait? What if she wakes up? She will be tired and grumpy and the rest of the afternoon will be so much more difficult. If I turn off the car, she could wake up’. I decide she is tired enough that she should stay asleep and with the fuel prices post-Russian-invasion, I vote to turn the car off. And then she wakes up. If you’re a mum, you know the frustration that comes with missed nap times, especially when your child needs one. Naturally, I start kicking myself for making the wrong decision… but then this quote comes to mind… ‘make the decision right’.
I tell myself I had made the decision to turn off the car. Now she is awake and it is time for Plan B. We’ll go inside and have a cuddle and read a book and then she can play outside for a little while so I can still have some ‘me-time’. Suddenly, with a change of attitude, her waking isn’t the end of the world. And I’m no longer crushing myself with guilt over the decision I made.
It’s a hard habit to shake, and I can’t say I am fully there yet. But I know the Bible tells us not to worry for a reason. It’s because worrying isn’t good for us. It isn’t healthy. Not only does anxiously deliberating waste precious time, it takes our eyes off trusting in Jesus and fixes them instead on a range of unpleasant outcomes that usually don’t even end up happening.
What is more, worry can have a profound effect on our physical bodies. Here is the final indicator that you might be secretly worrying without even realising it.
3. You hold tension in your body.
Another sign that you could be holding onto worry and fear without realising it is that your body is sore and tense.
Do you feel tense at the end of the day? Do you feel tense when you wake up? If you find yourself in one of those situations where you’re struggling to make a decision, take notice of your body. Are your shoulders raised and tense? Are you breathing shallow breaths? Are you clenching your jaw or fists? Do you rock onto your toes or push your feet into the ground? There are plenty of different ways we hold tension in our bodies.
Unfortunately, it tends to be cumulative and if you don’t deal with it, it builds up. If you’re constantly putting pressure on yourself to make the right decisions and achieve all your goals, your body feels the weight.
Unfortunately, tension in the body is something I know all too well. As someone who struggles with chronic pain due to injury, I’ve always thought my tension was a bi-product of that. If you have chronic pain, you will know how hard it is. But lately, with so much going on in my life, I realise that all the pressures are definitely contributing to the tension in my body. So I may not be able to eliminate the pain, but what I can do, is make an effort to control the thoughts that run through my mind so that I can relax my body.
Does anyone else here struggle with TMJD? I have uber chronic night-time clenching of my teeth. I’ve seen a handful of professions about it over the past two years and spent far too much money only to have achieved no result. I can’t control what my body does while I am sleeping. But during the day? I’m clenching more and more and it is so painful. I am so determined to get past this. Yet it seems my latest attempt has been in vain. This year, I’ve been on many 6-hour trips to see a specialist in Melbourne. I spent too much money on a mouthguard which only made problems worse. It’s pretty heart-breaking when you hold on to hope only to realise the problem isn’t going away as you’d hoped. You have to keep living with the pain and who knows how long it will be before it goes away – or if it ever will…
So I’m back to square one, trying to see what I can do to be a good steward of my body in the meantime. One of the things, I know will make a difference is capturing my worries and trading them for faith in God.
How do you take every thought captive? It’s about acknowledging a thought and CHOOSING what you will believe. Thoughts will always come and go. We get to choose if they will stay. We get to choose what we will focus on.
Final thoughts on hidden worry as a Christian:
Statistics show that 95% of the things we worry about never end up happening. So why do we worry? I think about times in my life when I had every reason to worry and yet I had this unexplainable peace. What was the determining factor? My proximity to God. I made time for him. I read my Bible diligently. I prayed desperately. I was at the end of my rope with no other option but to place my trust in him.
God doesn’t promise to take us out of the storm. But he does promise to be with us in the midst of it.
If worry is something you struggle with don’t accept it as a normal part of life. Just because it’s always been that way doesn’t mean you can’t change. The Bible tells us not to worry for a reason – because it is not honouring or trusting God and it is not healthy for our minds or our bodies.
Place your trust in him today.