Kicking Bad Habits: Worry

I have loads of bad habits. Among many, I floss my teeth in the living room, leave half-drank mugs of coffee all over my house and classroom, let the dishes pile up to an overwhelming amount, and sometimes my mouth gets out of control. But the one bad habit I have that's beginning to get in the way of me and God is my constant worry. In short, I am a fretter. I always have been, but the habit seems to be growing worse and worse as I grow older and add to my responsibilities. Here's my list of daily worries:
  • Am I an effective teacher?
  • Am I doing enough to honor God with my life?
  • Is my marriage all it can be?
  • Am I eating balanced meals? (This seems stupid, but I seriously worry about this every day!)
  • Am I bad wife because my house is messy?
  • What if we are never placed with a baby?
  • Will I ever earn my Master's?
  • Where will we be a year from now?
  • Will I have time to run today?
Many of us are held captive by worry. It keeps us up at night, drives us to do crazy things, and ultimately pushes us farther away from God. Really, when you get right down to the core of worry---you'll find that it's a selfish act.

"'That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today'" (Matthew 6:25-34).

I've read this passage many, many times--but it's amazing how quickly I can forget it. The bolded parts stick out to me today. My worry implies two things: that I have little faith and that my thoughts are the same as unbelievers' thoughts. If I am a believer--then I should trust and have faith that God will take care of my needs exactly like He needs to. That doesn't mean I should just kick back and quit trying---as a Christ-follower I have a responsibility to live in a way that honors God, so I should do my best in my walk with Him, my relationships, and my job. It's really easy to tell someone to quit worrying because God commands it. But worry is a bad habit--and breaking bad habits often means we have to replace the bad habit with something productive. So what do we replace worry with?

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4: 6-7).

We need to replace worry with prayer---not just self-centered prayer, but also prayer that offers thanks for what we have. God promises that the results of this will be an extraordinary peace. And ultimately, for those of us who struggle with worry, that's what we want...peace.

I've never been very good at memorizing scripture. But Philippians 4:6-7 are two verses that I'm going to commit to memory this week so I can begin to kick this nasty habit.

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