This is just the way I am.
Those words defined so many years of my life, as I grew from a perpetually worried little girl into a dangerously anxious young woman. Fretting over piano recitals, class projects, and arguments with friends evolved into sleepless nights and panic attacks over my daughter’s health and my husband’s job security and my apparent inability to handle any of it well.
People close to me joked that as long as I was breathing, I’d find something to worry about.
Nothing about that was funny to me, though, as the web of anxiety in my mind strangled any dreams of happiness I may have had. I couldn’t change, though. This is just the way I am. My natural tendencies were toward anxious thoughts, and nothing could change that.
As I began to walk with Jesus, I learned how He wanted to commandeer it all — staking His claim on my mind and the storm of unhappy thoughts swirling around in there. I knew He wanted to change my thoughts . . . to renew my mind . . . to transform me from the inside out.
I knew it was up to me to take every thought captive to the power of the gospel.
Even so, I didn’t know how to just stop thinking the way I had always thought. If I didn’t think those thoughts, what was I supposed to think? The rutted pathway of negative thinking was so deep and worn that I literally couldn’t imagine my mind going in another direction.
I am learning, though, that our minds are not made for inactivity. They are lazy, though, and will take the path of least resistance every time. The only way for my mind to stop thinking one thing is for it to start thinking on something else. The only way to stop focusing on the worrisome aspects of life in this broken world is to intentionally fix my thoughts on even the most ordinary of gifts every day.
The only way to change the belief that I can’t change is to deliberately focus on the fact that Jesus says I can.
I am not condemned to a life of unhappiness. The way I am is not the way I always have to be. Changing my mind is not easy, but through small daily gains — choosing where to direct my thoughts — I am coming to believe in happiness again.
For Thursday, read chapter 12.
Head over here to join the conversation! This is just the way I am. How have you seen this Happiness Hijacker at work?
Jessica Bolyard is a writer and speaker with a passion for connecting the hearts of women with the heart of the God who adores them. Through her own relationship with the Lord and her journey with anxiety and depression, she has come to appreciate the subtle ways God lovingly draws us into intimacy with Himself in the most otherwise ordinary moments of life. Jessica lives with her husband and daughter in Georgia, and firmly believes that iced coffee, soft blankets, old books, and purring cats are the main ingredients for a perfect afternoon.