Driving under a canopy of oak trees, I watched shadows dance with sunshine in the street. Their rhythm was slow and easy, calm and peaceful.
I felt the opposite. My pace had been hurried; my thoughts filled with angst and worry.
Tasks outnumbered time, yet here I was avoiding being alone with myself at the library. I had planned to be working on deadlines and checking off my to-do list while my little girl played at a friend’s house for a few hours. Instead I was driving around a nearby neighborhood, hoping the beauty of some Southern-living-styled homes with wide open front porches and charming rocking chairs might give me the peaceful feeling I longed for.
I pulled over and parked in the shade, rested my head on my seat and imagined myself rocking in one of those rocking chairs, sipping lemonade. Taking a deep breath, I slowly exhaled the pressure that had been building in my chest.
Why couldn’t I just get it together, shut off my concerns, and get things done?
Slowly, my thoughts drifted back to something I’d read over ten years ago. In her book, Calm My Anxious Heart, author Linda Dillow says, “Worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere!”
Well, so much for my peaceful southern porch imagery, I thought.
My worry was indeed like a rocking chair. Going through the motion of non-stop thoughts, chasing distractions, avoiding myself and possibly God, I wasn’t getting anywhere close to the peace I longed for nor the progress I needed.
Honestly though, I don’t always recognize when I am worried. For years I denied I ever was.
My mind has always been wired to think a lot. I live with a constant flow of thoughts, ideas, possible scenarios, potential conflicts, distractions, problems, and creative solutions. But slowly worry can creep in, and before I know it, pressure rises in my chest, tension builds in my shoulders, and my brain won’t shift gears.
Little concerns can become full-blown consuming thoughts.
The apostle Paul tells us how to replace our consuming concern with peace:
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 (NLT)
Gosh, it sounds so easy! Yet, why is it so hard? Instead of Paul’s wisdom, worry takes us down another road: Do not be calm about anything; instead get anxious about everything. Tell God what He should do and take control if He doesn’t listen.
But we don’t have to live that way. God wants to provide what we need. He offers to carry our hearts into a place of peace, if we will put our trust in Him instead of our worries. There are choices we have to make, three steps Paul tells us to take:
- Stop worrying – press the pause button on my consuming concerns.
- Start praying – open my mouth and tell God what I need.
- Keep thanking God – remind my heart of God’s faithfulness by thanking Him for what He’s already done.
So, the next time you’re tempted to worry or drive around and avoid life like I did, remember the rocking chair. Make sure you’re moving toward God — not just going through the motions and staying stuck. He is there, waiting to give you peace.
Lord, thank You for the peace that comes when I put my trust in You! When worry threatens to consume my thoughts, help me remember to stop, pray, and thank You. I need my heart to remember how good and capable You are of taking care of all that concerns me.