Sunday, January 6, 2013

Whose in Control, Anyways?

I don't know if I've mentioned this before or not, but one of my biggest fears is growing old and still having to battle anxiety or that it will be worse. One of my reasons for this fear is because my mom is a lot like me but worse, and in her opion, getting worse as the years go on. This reality has made me feel hopeless at times because, if my mom's anxiety and nervousness is getting worse, why won't the same be true for me?
But then this weekend, my mom made a comment that gave me a glimmer of hope that I might fare better than her after all. Some how we got to talking about how some people like to be home and don't feel like they need or even want to be out and about all the time, unlike us. We are both social creatures who thrive on being around others and being busy. We don't understand people like my husband and father who have no problem sitting around the house for a couple of days with nothing going on. My mom said "Like a few weeks ago when the power was out we couldn't go anywhere for a day or two and I thought I was going to go crazy." I said "Well that's one thing we both need to work on because it causes us anxiety," or something to that effect anyways. My mom replied "I wish I could."

Now before I explain how this comment made me feel hopeful, let me explain a change that has occured in me over this past year. Normally I would have never said or even recongnized that this was a problem that needed fixing but rather something I was stuck with and couldn't change. But God mercifully opened my eyes this year to see that this was a false belief. There is relatively very little I have control over, but the one thing I can control is how I react to things. I am not a helpless victim to my thoughts and attitudes but rather I can choose to be master over them. In fact one of my greatest sources of anxiety has been the very subject my mom and I were discussing. My security has been tied up in how busy my social calendar is or isn't. I often exhausted myself and girls constantly trying to keep us busy. Since I grew up being taught that who I am is tied up in how busy I am or am not, I thought that if we had to stay home because we had nothing going on that meant I was big loser with a capital "L" pasted on my forhead. Thankfully through the Bible and the wise words of my husband, friends, and counselor I learned that this wasn't true. It's o.k. to not have something going on all the time. It's o.k. to be at home with "nothing" to do. My identity is in Christ and what he did for me on the cross, not in my social calendar. I also learned that this is something I choose. I have to choose to be content at home. It doesn't come naturally for me like it does my husband or friends. I have to choose it. When we have nothing going on for a couple of days and my natural instinct is to rush to find some way to fill them, I have to stop and ask the Lord to help me be content and to show us how to spend our time at home. He never lets me down. I almost always get through what I feared might be a boring day not regretting having tried to fill it up. Again, I have to choose to look at the day on the bright side or otherwise I am in danger of feeling like I'm going to go crazy. I've also learned though that a little boredom now and then never hurt anyone. In fact, it reminds me to pray for those stuck in a prison cell with nothing to do but pace or look at the walls.
Anyways, back to my mom's comment. The reason I have hope is because unlike my mom, I have learned that I can control how I react. Like Paul, I too can be content in any and every situation because of Christ who strengthens me. My mom hasn't figured that out yet. She still thinks she's stuck with no hope of changing because it is up to the outside forces not her whether or not she goes crazy. This is the line that seperates us. If you remember from my previous post, I quoted John Piper who said this very attitude is anti Gospel. If we still see ourselves as helpless victims of our sin and incapable of change, then we haven't met Jesus. Or if we have, we don't believe Him.
I want to leave you with this encouragement. This is the Gospel message: In Christ, we are no longer enslaved to sin(bad habbits, bad thoughts, etc...) but we have been set free. By the power of His spirit, we no longer have to obey our flesh, but we have been set free to follow in Christ's footsteps and become a new person.

Here are some verses to check out and ponder.
Romans 6:6-7
Philippians 4:11-13
Romans 6:4
2Cor. 2:14

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Goals and My New Year's Resolution

Yesterday I posted about how my new year's resolution was to establish some goals. Well after writing that post I decided to do a little research on goals, and I came across some interesting articles on how it is actually better NOT to have goals. These writers claimed that goals actually limit us and are more like harsh task masters than helpers. To read more about what these authors had to say on not having goals, click here.
I found this information very interesting and rather freeing. It also got me thinking about whether goals are biblical or not. If you think about it, most of the goals people set are wordly in nature. They have nothing to do with eternity future. In fact the only time the word "goal" is mentioned in the Bible is in Philippians 3:14 "I press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."(ESV translation) Our main goal is to know, love, and serve Christ. Of course this can include setting various temporal goals, but my point is as long as Christ is our main goal, the rest is details.

So the reason I started thinking about goals in the first place is because I thought maybe it would help me be less anxious and more content.  But after my research I've decided that the goal I need to work toward this year is this: take life as it comes. I need to learn to take what I'm given and work with it. Most of my anxiety stems from worrying about what I have no control over. So my goal this year is to focus on what I do have control over and leave the rest to God. Also I want to dwell on the little things I can be thankful for during bad days. So often I spend my time dwelling on what's going wrong instead of what is going right. Basically my goal is become an optimist. This will all be easier said than done, but I was encouraged to read this by John Piper:
         " The message of Christmas is that whatever is evil and undesirable in your life can be changed. Wherever people say about their bad habits, “That’s just the way I am; you’ll have to get used to it,” the message of Christmas has been rejected. It’s as though the AAA truck pulls up to your dead car and you say, “Ah, it’s no use, that’s just the way this car is.” And you don’t even let him hook up his cables. The message of Christmas is the jumper cable between God and your life. And the power that flows is the power to change." (To read the whole article, click here)

My being anxious about what I can't control and being discontent and unthankful with what I've been given is sin, but the good news of the Gospel is that I can change by the power of Christ who works within me. As Paul says in Philippians 3, I must forget the bad habbits of the past and press on to my new goal of being Christlike. I'm sure I will struggle with anxiety and discontent for the rest of my life, but I don't have to be ruled by it anymore. This is good news.

Whether or not you made goals or resolutions for the new year or not, know this: if you are in Christ, you are no longer enslaved to sin. Without Him, you will die in your sin and spend eternity paying for it. Make knowing Jesus your ultimate goal this year! You won't regret it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Another new year is upon us. It seems like it was only a short time ago we were celebrating the beginning of 2012. Time really does fly the older we get.
With the beginning of  new year, comes new resolutions to do better, accomplish more. I've never been one to make new year's resolutions myself. It seems to me that most people never make it to the end of the year as resolved to do what they set out to do at the beginning of the year. I personally never have been able to come up with anything to resolve to do better at. Sure I need to improve on things just like anyone else, but I guess I've never felt the need to set goals in order to acheive it. I've read in various books that goal setting people are happier because they have something to work for. The mind opperates better when it has something to work on. Maybe that's why I have so many issues with anxiety and discontent. I never have any goals. But as I sit here writing this, I still can't think of a single goal I want to accomplish this year.  So I guess I do have a new year's resolution this year. To have some goals to work toward. There, I, Katie Mitchell, resolve to develop some goals to work toward. We'll see if at the end of this year I was able to come up with some goals and in turn, become less anxious and more content. This should be an interesting experiment.
What about you? Do you make new year's resolutions? Have a you ever done what you resolved to do?