Stop Striving

This past week my wonderful mother hosted a women’s gathering at her church that was entitled: Living Loved. By some happy accidents I ended up being able to go to her event. I knew the speaker Michelle Cote as her husband is a pastor and they are dear friends of my family’s. This entire post was inspired by Michelle.

We are going to be looking at Psalms 46:10. I have included 4 versions of the verse (I use NIV daily) but I want to point out some key ways this verse is written:

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As women, as PEOPLE, we struggle to be still, and when you are chronically ill being still comes with the job. “Be still and know that I am God,” look at the other ways that are translated to Be Still:

  • Step out of traffic: go to a quiet place
  • Let Go: forget about the past
  • Relax: let your mind stop running
  • Cease Striving: STOP

Cease Striving!!! We are reminded here by God that we cannot do it all and do it well. We tend to let ANTS run our thoughts, ANTS are Automatic Negative Thoughts. These ANTS tend to creep into my heart and mind when I cannot complete a goal I set for myself; especially when it is due to the unpredictable life living with a chronic illness brings. Our thoughts have SO MUCH POWER over our hearts. When I am talking negative about myself my husband will stop me and say, “Hey don’t talk to my wife like that.” He says that because as he tells me, “My wife is better than that.” Isn’t it so true though? We let ANTS run our minds and hearts almost subconsciously. Another way to think of it is that if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend don’t say it to yourself.

 

We have two main types of thoughts that creep into our minds: Distortional and Destructive.

Distortional thoughts are irrational, overgeneralized, based on lies, and dwell on the past. They are made up of fortunes: the what if’s, mind reading (assuming what others think about ______…), coming to conclusions without facts, and going to the worst case scenario.

Yet how we can dwell on the past when God says: “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

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 The second type of thinking that we can fall into are destructive thoughts. Destructive thoughts are full of fear, anxiety, and worry. You may think these are all the same things but they are not. These three areas work together all the time but here is what God tells us about each one

Fear:

  • Definition: “An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”
  • We experience the painful emotion of fear when we think about what can happen or what is happening; by dwelling on all the possibilities and/or hindrances in front of us.
  • What God Says: “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
    Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

Anxiety:

  • Definition: “A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”
  • We experience anxiety when we do not feel strong enough to face a situation on our own (and the good news is that we don’t need to walk though life’s hardships alone- God is with us!)
  • What God Says: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Worry:

  • Definition: “Give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.”
  • We experience worry when we try to control a situation that is out of our hands.
  • What God Says: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6: 25-34 NIV

 

Destructive thoughts can come in the forms of: insecurity, being discontented, grumbling and complaining, guilt, bitterness, jealousy, regret, impatience, and self pity. Most of these stem from fear, anxiety, and worry. This is where Psalm 46:10 comes back into play. When we worry we are are trying to control, but we need to stop striving and let God carry out His will. This is not always easy, and it requires great faith. God is big enough to take our emotions- every single one. Satan likes it when we dwell on the past or fret about the future, but God wants us to live and love in the present. What is so great about Jesus is that He is a guilt free zone, and forgives our sins as far as the east is to the west.

Ultimately we are responsible for our thoughts, actions, and attitudes. So stop striving and be still- in there you will find peace.

 

 

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