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When Concern Consumes Me

 

As we drove home from a weekend away in the mountains, I felt a heavy sense of dread and sadness. Laying my head back on my seat, I told my husband, JJ, “I don’t want to go home.”

The stress and strain of countless commitments at home and at work were taking a toll on me. If only I could return to that little mountain town where no one knew me or needed me. 

J.J. asked some clarifying questions, and then suggested I make a list of everything on my plate so I could ask God what needed to be cut back. At first I resented the fact that he had just added one more thing “to do” on my already-overwhelming-list of things I’d never get done. But I knew he was right.

Later that week I wrote out all my commitments and concerns, along with a list of deadlines and dates on my calendar, including every appointment, event, conference-call, and meeting I could think of for the next six months.

And I prayed: Please, God, show me where I need to make changes.

I assumed the Holy Spirit would suggest big adjustments in my schedule, but that’s not what happened. God didn’t tell me to make cutbacks at work or in ministry. He didn’t show me our family had too many activities. He didn’t challenge me to take a sabbatical, although I was hoping He would.

Jesus showed me it was worry, not my workload, that was making me weary.

During the weeks leading up to my “meltdown,” I let my thoughts dwell on the possible negative outcome of several different circumstances and decisions, all at the same time. And without realizing it, I spent as much time thinking and worrying about concerns, commitments, circumstances, and deadlines as I did working on them.

It was not only how I spent my time, but how I spent my thoughts that left me depleted.

But, it wasn’t until I brought it all to God and wrote it all out, that I recognized what was happening.

Instead of escaping to the mountains where no one knows us or needs us, Jesus invites us to come to Him so He can give us:

Rest for our weary hearts and minds.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)

Freedom from the captivity of our concerns.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:12-14a)

Are there are worries that are making you weary? Jesus is gently inviting you to come to Him, seeking and trusting Him, no matter what. Over at inCourage we’re sharing how we can remember this truth:

God’s heart is big enough to care and strong enough to carry all that concerns us. 

Lord, when concerns consume us, help us remember You are there inviting us to come to You and talk about all of it. Everything that’s weighing us down. Show us if it’s our commitments or concerns, our worries or our workload, and help us trust You more with both. Amen.

Join us over at inCourage, and share a concern that we can pray for, for you. 

He Bends Down

It had been a hard day, running too many errands with two small children. My three-year-old didn’t understand why we couldn’t buy every toy his tiny hands could touch. And he insisted on climbing in and out of the grocery cart, which led to whining when I stopped him.

I was not a happy mama and wondered how all the other moms in the store seemed to know what they were doing. Their children listened when they told them no, and they had on cute matching outfits too.

I wondered how in the world those women pulled it off with a smile. I could barely get a shower, get my kids dressed, and get us out the door before lunch. When we got home that afternoon, I put my boys down for an early nap and searched for pink construction paper so I could write “I QUIT” on it and turn in my “pink slip” to my husband when he came home from work.

I was tired of feeling like such a failure as a mom. But ironically, I couldn’t find pink construction paper, so I decided to pull out my journal and file a complaint to God.

Filling blank pages with scribbled thoughts, I wrote:

I hate who I have become. I’m such a horrible mom. Why didn’t someone tell me how hard this was going to be? I’m frustrated with my kids and myself. I have no patience and I don’t know what I am doing! I feel guilty all the time. I couldn’t wait to be a mom and now I want to quit.

Just as I finished writing that sentence, I sensed God whispering to my heart: Renee, you are so critical of yourself. You focus on your mistakes and beat yourself up with accusation and condemnation but those are not My thoughts.

That afternoon, I sat before God and choked out the words, “I can’t do this.” (Read what happened next over at inCourage.me