I fired my inner worrier this morning.

I fired her after she rudely woke me up at her preferred time — which always falls unmercifully between 3 and 4 a.m.

digital clock

I know. I know. My default should be prayer at 3:28 a.m. — and I do know people who faithfully wake up like night watchmen to pray when they are shaken from slumber.

I’m not proud to say that I am too often the night worrier, instead of the night watchman. I’m not proud to say that I have long indulged my inner worry-wart.

I allow myself to fixate, fret, and flounder. I ponder too much about deadlines and bottom lines – so much that I forget about the plumb line.

No more.

I fired her this morning. Let me just say, we did not part on good terms.

“We have fundamentally different views about some things,” I said under my breath, before I sent her packing. “It’s not me, it’s you. You are a drain on my calendar, my work life, my mothering, my marriage, and my precious sleep.”

I confess: I have fired my inner worrier a few times before. And I have mistakenly hired her back again against my better judgment.

Because life on planet earth gives all of us plenty of reasons to worry. We worry about what the MRI will show, and if the crops are going to grow, and why the sales are still so slow.

If we’re moms, we worry we didn’t use enough sunscreen, that ketchup really doesn’t count as a vegetable after all, and the frightening truth that your oldest son is about to get his learner’s permit – Lord, help us all.

We worry we won’t get back to sleep. And some of us worry we won’t wake up again.

bed

And, it seems, our inner worriers prefer to work the night shift. So we stir awake, then we stay awake. And we walk through our days unrested, unnerved and unprepared for what life might throw our way.

The thing is, worry is a horrible tenant. It lives rent-free in your soul, and furthermore, it demands to be paid — with the deposit of your precious thought life.

Paul says there’s a better way: “Don’t fret or worry,” he wrote to the Philippians – and to all of us. “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, The Message)

Fire the worry-wart. Hire the Holy Spirit. He’s already applied for the job, and is abundantly qualified.

He offers true peace, sweet peace. And He doesn’t make burdensome demands at 3:28 a.m.

(But He might wake you up for a chat.)

Rustic Blocks by Mary & Martha

The Two-Day Challenge

So, you fired your inner worrier. Now what? Take the Two-Day Challenge with me.

The challenge is based on these words of Martin Luther: “There are two days on my calendar: This day and that Day.”

So, when your inner worrier tries to stage a comeback, you retrain your brain to focus here:

- This day. The moment you are currently in.

- And that Day. The moment when you will see God face-to-face.

The Two-Day Challenge allows us to live fully present in our nows – those beautiful everyday moments begging to be savored. It also creates space for us to revel in the astonishing truth of our forever inheritance. It helps us pay attention to what a present-tense God is doing right now, before our very eyes. And it reminds us to look at life through the prism of eternity, prioritizing life by what matters most.

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The Two-Day Challenge doesn’t allow room for our inner worriers to bludgeon us with our pasts, or to pester us with what might happen tomorrow.

Worry never changed what already happened, and it is incapable of altering what will come to pass next week. But worry does have the power to rob today of its joy, if we let it.

But we won’t let it, will we? We know a better way:

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
- Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

A Prayer

Dear Jesus, We wait expectantly to see you on that Day. But until then, help us live more fully for You in this one. Amen.

{“Peace Sweet Peace” rustic block set available at Mary & Martha. }
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  1. 1

    Jennifer,
    I love the “this day”, “that day” way of looking at the things we worry about. It is so true, as you said, that worry does not change a thing about the past or the future, but instead robs us of the here and now in today. The more I look at things through the eternal perspective filter, the less I worry. I look forward to the day when all the things I so desperately worried about will seem like “momentary troubles” compared with the glorious eternity I will be experiencing.

    I believe that every mother’s worst worry is that something will happen to her children. I was, however, able to lay worries about several mission trips my daughter served on aside because I knew she was a believer (our ultimate safety/comfort net), but I often worry about my son who is not a believer – if anything life threatening were to happen to him. Not knowing his eternal destination troubles me and keeps me coming back before the Lord and lifting him up. This is where God is stretching my trust muscles. I could use prayers for this last bastion of worry that I have trouble getting past some days. Thank you so much for this wonderful post!
    Blessings to you,
    Bev

    • 2

      Bev,

      I am with you. My biggest worries generally have involved my children. I have replayed so many worst-case scenarios which haven’t (thanks be to God) ever come to pass. Our worry doesn’t change anything; it only steals from the moment we are *in*.

      Like you, I want to turn those worries into prayers — all shaped through the prism of what matters most. Which is why I LOVE that Luther quote about “this day and That day.”

      Thanks for your words this morning, Bev.

      • 3
        Earline says:

        What about when your worst fears do come true for your kids? What do you do with your worry then? What if you have a big ugly diagnosis that is not going to go away? And then what? How do you not worry about their future? Not something life threatening, not something that will be limited by time, something that may mean they will struggle their entire lives and it will put them at risk for worse things as time comes? What do you do about the worries that haunt you every day? How do you live with that and still trust God is good?

        • 4
          Beth Williams says:

          Earline,

          It is super hard as a parent not to worry some. Don’t let that worry over take you and lose sleep over it. I know as a child of an older parent I worried a lot, but I have come to realize that God is in Control and if He brings you to it He will bring you through it!

          Prayers for you and your family!!

  2. 5

    Thank you for these challenging and thought provoking words. As a mother, I face sending my first child off to college next week. He has spent this whole summer worrying and I have tagged along. I heard Tim Keller say once that “you are only as happy as your unhappiest child”. This is so true. Today, I commit to turning it over to The Lord. Thank you for the challenge.

  3. 7

    I needed this one today more than you know, my sweet friend. Beautiful words and a powerful challenge.

  4. 9

    I love this. I am so guilty of worry. Especially at 4:30 in the morning. “Worry has the power to rob today of joy, if we let it.” – Amen! This is really a great Life challenge. One that I am going to try and live into. Thank you!

    • 10

      It absolutely helps, Kim. I love that Luther quote. And when something “worry-worthy” happens in life, I ask God to help me look at it through the prism of eternity. Meanwhile, I ask God to help me continue to live in the moment, in the NOW. That keeps me from fretting about what has already happening, or giving too much of my thought life to what may (or may NOT!) come to pass tomorrow. It doesn’t mean we don’t plan or prepare, but it means we can plan or prepare without the burden of worry. I hope that the Two-Day Challenge helps you as much as it has helped me.

  5. 11
    ro elliott says:

    I love love that quote… I heard somewhere someone talk about “future tripping” … and this picture came to mind… it is like we are standing beneath a umbrella on a rainy day… we are living under the grace provided for where we are…. but if we choose to go future tripping… we walkout from the umbrella and right out into the rain… right where the enemy love us to be… because there is rarely a thought of the future and all the what if’s that is not based in fear… … and night time indeed is the worse time to go “future tripping “ into the land of what if’s… it is a “workout” to build that muscle that will take our thoughts and bring them captive to Christ… to bring them back under the umbrella of grace… the Grace He promises to us!!!! and a big Amen with you on your prayer!!!!

  6. 14

    LOVE THIS! My girlfriends and I keep saying the same thing! 3 am is the magical time for me. Just last week, I told God, take the worry or whatever He had me up for, because I was really tired! Unfortunately, I was up the rest of the day, I don’t think God liked me telling Him what to do! Thank you for your insight! I’m passing along the 2 Day challenge to all of my friends!!!

    • 15

      I’m so glad that these words encouraged your spirit. Luther’s quote has vastly changed my perspective. When I have a worry, I immediately set it under that microscope, and look it through the lens of this day and That Day. It has been a game-changer.

  7. 16

    So needed this timely word! LOVE the reminder from Luther….THIS day and THAT day….let those be my focus…living today in light of THAT!
    Much change in our family, empty nest looming in 2 weeks, youngest off to college, dd off to semester overseas, other son engaged and son and d-I-l moving 2000 miles cross country! Much to worry, but trusting and hiring the Holy Spirit…far better! Thank you!

  8. 18

    Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing these thoughts and truths. The Message scriptures are something else. I do like the two day challenge! One reason we might be awakened during the night is to pray for someone else :) Lately I have had a pain here or there and thought someone might be experiencing the same thing and need prayer, so I pray for an unknown recipient. :) God knows. He is so very good. God continue to bless you richly!

  9. 20

    3:30 seems to be my waking time lately, and for no good reason. My dreams shake me and then I can’t fall back to sleep because they feel too real. Thank you for this reminder, and I will fire the night worrier also.

    • 21

      Chandra … Those night wakings can be so incredibly difficult. Praying for peace, for the Two-Day challenge to be a tool for you, and for the Holy Spirit to rock you back to sleep. Thanks for sharing.

  10. 22

    Jennifer,

    This post deeply touched me and left me misty eyed.

    For years I would wake @ 3:00 am and habitually go and sleep on the coach that is above what was my daughter’s room. even though she no longer lives with us I still tend to do this periodically.

    I am guilty of being a worrier even though I really try not to be and now I will try even harder to focus on ‘ This Day and That Day’,Thank-you so much for sharing that quote with us, I love it.

    Enjoy your day….

    Penny

    • 23

      Penny, I pray that you will have restful, peaceful nights. That I will, too. That we all will. That we could rest in the sure, steady hand of Jesus — the Prince of Peace.

      This day, That Day…
      This day, That Day…
      This day, That Day…

      Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

      :)

  11. 24

    O, boy! Thanks!

  12. 26

    I learned to do this a couple of years ago during a very difficult time. But do you think I can remember to apply it to the daily things? Thanks for the challenge – it has been accepted!

  13. 28

    Thanks for this reminder! Something I needed to hear today.

  14. 30
    Paulette says:

    Worry is my middle name. My son calls me Worrisome Wanda… I have to give my worry to GOD each day but fail miserably because I take it back every time. I love when you say ” Fire the worry-wart and hire the Holy Spirit”. When my son first started driving on his own on Mothers Day of all days we discussed that he would let me know when he got there. When I did not hear from him when he arrived where he was going I was crying so hard and imagined horrifying things that I called my friend who was going the same area to check that he was OK. She called me back and said he was fine and she told him that I was worried. Before that I called his job to see if he was there and they said he was and put him on the phone. He said he was fine and forgot to call me. I worry every night and day when he goes to school and work. It has come to the point where my heart races just thinking about my worrying. I know GOD says worry about nothing and pray about everything but my mind is not there yet. It is shameful to read what I have written but it is my reality that ONLY GOD can see me through this.

    • 31

      Don’t feel shame, Paulette. Your love for your son shines through. Let’s both work on the Two-Day Challenge. Let’s do this, friend. We are held in the hands of a God — the one and only God — whom is trustworthy and faithful.

  15. 32

    Fired! As of now ! A great post! If live to link it on welcomeheart as soon as I get home from my youngest daughters college orientation where I’ve gathered all kinds of new worries to my list! Ha! Ok just fired again…

  16. 34

    I’ve kept company with the “what ifs” for so long that I’ve learned not to see the wolf’s teeth and claws poking out from under the sheep’s pelt. “I’m only planning ahead!” I tell myself.
    Thanks for your thoughts on “this day” and “that day.”

    • 35

      I am a planner, too, friend. And I stand by my belief that planning is good and prudent. But I do think there’s a difference between good planning and unreliable worry. Let’s keep planning, shall we, while knowing that His plans are perfect.

  17. 36

    You are so on! Yes, praying when I wake does much more good than worrying! I try to do that. Love the idea of THIS DAY and THAT DAY. Will try to remember that and apply it. I think it would work during the day whenever something comes up that want to allow the worrier in me to come back. Thank you for sharing your struggle and the challenge full of ideas for us all. What a blessing that is!
    I praise God for blogs like this that feel my soul and encourage my heart. Gratitude also works to chase the worrier away, counting my blessings. Mary

  18. 37

    Bless you, Jennifer. You will never know how much this bleary-eyed girl needed to read this this morning.

  19. 38

    Absolutely LOVE love LOVE this. Thank you! Fear and worry are a battle I fight regularly in my mind. I so enjoyed the way you wove Martin Luther’s quote into this post along with the passage from Matthew… so beautiful and inspiring and RIGHT ON. I will never forget that – This Day and That Day. God bless you!

  20. 39

    Really needed this today.

  21. 40

    “Worry never changed what already happened, and it is incapable of altering what will come to pass next week. But worry does have the power to rob today of its joy, if we let it.” These wise words of yours, Jennifer, make clear how pointless, even destructive, worry is. Thank you for the Two-Day Challenge to fight against it!

  22. 41

    Thank you so much for your wisdom and word of encouragement to someone who’s been known for her “Emma dilemmas”. I definitely want to fire my inner worrier and to run the race with worry free abandon. I so appreciate your posts and your wonderful book. Thank from the UK.

  23. 42

    this is true to me always worrying about this or that trying to give to God but failing. I can’t stop myself.

  24. 43

    My day started out with a series of texts from my son at 1:30 am from my alcoholic son who is a truck driver out there somewhere. I spent hours on the phone with him the day before describing the love of Jesus and telling him that God was the only one who could help him get through the pain of a break up between he and his fiancée. He was raised in church but he says he doesn’t believe in God. His texts this morning were full of hatred and anger and mocking of what he calls “my God”. He was drunk! I called him, and he was in a taunting state of mind and I told him I wasn’t going to talk anymore. This morning I sent him a text and told him to stop calling/texting me with his filthy words about making deals with the devil and so on because I wasn’t going to answer them. We’ve been struggling with him for 3 years, up and down, back and forth and I finally feel I have to let him go. Let God do His work, get out of His way, and trust my God to take care of my son, but I am worried! I am holding on to the Lord’s hand as tight as I can, raising my eyes and heart to heaven instead of looking at the circumstances. I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t afraid, but I know that God loves my son more than I ever could and that He will take care of Him. I’m standing on that (wobbly yes) so yes I know about worry. Please pray for my son and thank you for listening.

    • 44

      Sandy, Thank-you for sharing your story. I will be praying for your son. My heart aches for him and you, as his mom. I will be praying for you to be able to release your son into God’s care; and resist the urge to “take back” that release each time your worry wants to raise it’s ugly head. I know it must be so very hard for you; you love your son, want him to make wiser choices for his life, stop drinking and commit his life to Jesus. I can relate to your worry about your son and the poor choices he has made. I have an adult son with autism and depression. My tendency has been to worry about him…but all it ever does is make me anxious and by worrying it is as if I am telling God I don’t trust that He can take care of my son the way I can. As you wrote, “God loves my son more than I ever could and that He will take care of Him.” I will pray that is the message we both hear loud and clear through-out the day and night. God Bless you and your son Sandy:-)

  25. 45

    Love it. “this day” and “that day”…what a wonderful perspective. Beautiful, as always.

  26. 46

    Thank you for the simplicity of your challenge: to focus on this day and that, when we see Him face to face. So often worry has paralyzed me and her voice is so familiar she is almost comfortable even though she makes me miserable. The ugly story gets spun and it sounds real but it’s not.

    And what you quote from Paul, about bringing petitions and praises before God, is what helps. Sometimes just plain stopping and thanking him for what is, now, breaks the cycle. And thinking about “that day” when we shall be like him because we shall see him face to face…all the good things wrapped up into that face, and that love…

  27. 47

    Thank you for this reminder, Jennifer! My inner worrier woke me today at 3:11am. I remember the minute exactly because the Holy Spirit instantly met my worrier with a verse that I think of all the time – Ecclesiastes 3:11, “God has made everything beautiful in its time … and has set eternity in our hearts.” As you’ve reminded us, God has already set a guarantee in our souls that one day ALL will be well. I can trust Him for this day too.
    Gratefully,
    Renee

  28. 48
    kerri macdonald says:

    Jennifer thank you so much for your post! You have perfect timing! Joining you for this challenge and am putting my job search in the Holy Spirit’s hands, I’ll send out the resumes and make the calls and let God lead me where I am meant to be.
    Thanks for always being so inspiring!

  29. 49

    Oh girl! I’d never heard “this day and that Day” before but I am SO up for the challenge! Thank you for sharing :-)

  30. 50
    Janet (the butterfly box lady) says:

    Jennifer, once again you have hit the nail on the head. I don’t know how many times your messages have fit perfectly with what is going on in my life. I need to fire my inner worrier, too, as I am going through some health concerns right now. Thanks again for your message and thanks to God for using you to touch others.

  31. 51

    This is wonderful!! I’m making a sticky note on my computer “This Day – That Day”… so I see this throughout the day. Hopefully it will remind me!! Thank You, Thank you!!!

  32. 52
    Rebekah Taylor says:

    Wow, what a challenge. I feel worry has robbed me of so many moments and years, and also who I want to be. It’s a constant battle since trying to pull myself out of it, but such a simple yet profound challenge feels like a timely, needed blessing, thank you x

  33. 53

    Oh, boy. I need this challenge. I’ve been on the rollercoaster of worry for a long time now, but it’s worse this summer because I’ve had some significant health issues. Thank you for this!

  34. 54

    This day, that day. Love it, Jennifer. As I scrolled through comments, I started worrying about other readers! HA! Yes, I know, prayer.
    So for those of you “going through” teenagers, I’m praying for you and crying with some of you. Speak “That day” to yourself when this one is tying you up in knots. That day when all things have worked to His glory and we have become a heavenly kingdom. No more night, no more tears…no more worries…Ever!

  35. 55

    Trying to write about my most recent bout with this ugly lady right now – and it ain’t pretty. But this 2-day thing? Yeah, I love that. Thanks, Jen.

  36. 57

    Thank you Jennifer, your words could not have come at a better time… my mind pre-occupied all day with utter nonsense. And that nonsense keeps me from experiencing the presence of God. Something I always so desperately need… as do we all. I love this.. and I think the Two day challenge is a good ongoing practice of two days…
    Peace and blessings.

  37. 58

    Love that prayer at the end. Thanks, Jennifer!

  38. 59

    Oh my friend… I love this so! I am routinely ‘awake’ – or is that awakened? – at 3:33am

    It took me a few weeks or months when it very first started happening to realize that maybe this was a thing. Like – every night… at 3:33… surely this must mean something, yes? It did for me. God led me to Jer 33:3 and that began, decades ago, our own little date nights. But He is nothing if not a Gentleman so there have been more than a few times that I have asked Him to wake someone ELSE up for awhile! He does… but then, once I am refreshed and caught back up on my sleep, I begin to miss Him and our late night chats! So I invite Him back to wake me up… and He does! It seems He just really likes to hang out! ;)

    Praying for you – and all of us who seem to be wide awake through out portions of the night! May we lean in to Him (and may we lay back down and let our sleep be sweet! And all the Sleep-Deprived said Amen!)

  39. 60

    This is just for me Jennifer. I’m so silly, I never thought of myself as a worrier – that is until one of my kids said, “mom, you’re such a worry-wart.” I took a long, hard look at myself and knew it was true. I’m in for the two day challenge. This day and that day. Wonderful.

  40. 61
    Patricia says:

    Count me in on the challenge! I am up the entire night way too much with a vague worry which I am going to explore deeper with a Christian counsellor. God gives His Beloved sleep. I do not want this to go on any longer in my life. God has blessed me with riches today which I will not recognize if I continue to worry.

  41. 62

    Thank you.

  42. 63

    Oh, friend. Yes. I know this story because it is mine, too. This week has been especially wretched. The 3 am tossing and turning, mind and body that won’t settle, spinning wheels that I can’t turn off. I pray to fall asleep, but I have forgotten to pray a surrender of my worrying.

    (I don’t really consider myself a worrier actually, I dress it up to say I’m a strategizer, an analyzer, a thinker-througher. But it’s all for me. Not for Him. Enough. She’s fired, too.)

    Thank you.

  43. 64
    Monica says:

    Jennifer,

    Thank you so much!! Your beautiful devotional really resonated with me. So often as a single mom, I am constantly reminding myself to stay present and remain “in the now.” I admit sometimes I’m successful, while at other times I fail miserably. I absolutely love the 2-day challenge and I’m ALL in. Bless you!

  44. 65
    Melanie says:

    Thank you for this post. It is truly amazing how much this connects with me. I’m currently struggling with panic attacks these past couple of months which is something new to me. I’m a fix it person, do it right now person, what if this happens are thoughts that run through my head daily. I’m a worrier, anxious, & high on life kind of person. I always feel I need to be doing something and now in my 30′s with 2 young boys it’s wearing me down. The anxiety has taken over my life and turned into panic. I’m currently working on it and it has gotten easier, by the grace of God. Praying and living in the now is how I’m learning to cope with it. Thankfully my husband is very understanding and I’ve been told I put too much on my plate. So I’m learning to scrape (let go) some of those “to-do’s” of my plate. Love the post thank you!!!!!

  45. 66
    Beth Williams says:

    I absolutely loved the this day that day idea. If we take our focus off the here and now and look at the future and what lies ahead–Heaven and being with Jesus forever–we will not worry.

    When I wake up- if I can’t go back to sleep –I start praying about and for others. That helps take the focus off me and my “puny” problems. Compared to most people my problems are trivial little trials to help strengthen me and bring me back to God!

    Thanks for a great post!!!

  46. 67

    Super cool, practical post! Thank you for sharing.

  47. 68

    Thank you so much for this! It is beautiful and so applicable to me. I want so much to be more stirred more by that day than fear!

  48. 69

    This is where the Lord has me right now.
    I can’t change the past, I can’t worry about tomorrow.
    I can only be in the present. Sometimes taking one minute at a time.\
    Giving it all to God.

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