Stopping the Cycle of Worry

My oldest son has always been a little stubborn. Okay, he’s sometimes pretty strong willed, actually.

I remember one instance when his stubborn ways manifested themselves, even at the early age of 3. We used to live by a cute, little park, “the red park.” It had the perfect sized play equipment for little kids like my son. We loved walking there and spending afternoons climbing, running, and rolling down the hill.

This particular day, we had gotten a ride to the park with my sister-in-law, or as my kids call her, “Auntie.” Auntie’s pick up must have been ultra-cool, because when we arrived at the park, my son did not want to leave it. Now, it wasn’t like we were trying to take him to the dentist to have a cavity filled; we were going to the fun red park. He did not care. The only thing on his mind was the ultra-cool pick up. He wanted to stay in it, no matter what. He did not care about the swings or the slides. His only thought was on the truck.

He proceeded to display his unhappiness as we tried to get him to walk to the park. As you can imagine, my son had the typical, “I’m a three-year-old,” massive fit. He went limp in my arms, arching his back to escape being carried. He rolled around on the grass, yelling and crying. I know you can picture it!

It did not matter what excitement and fun was waiting for him at the red park. No, he was way too hung up on leaving the pick up to think about anything else. He was consumed by what he was thinking about. Nothing could settle him down for quite awhile. Sigh, three year olds….

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about and learning about lately. Take away the screaming, crying, and rolling on the ground (hopefully)…are we any different? 

God’s been teaching me a lot about anxiety and stress this year, and how to not let it control me and drive me to a place where I’m physically sick. I’ve deepened and intensified my prayer life, but something else needed to change too.

Just like my son, sometimes we get hung up on negative thoughts. Sometimes these thoughts keep us in a pattern of worry and anxiety. I know you can relate. What keeps you up at night? If you’re like me, its worrying about one thing or another. For example, “Will I be able to clean my entire house before my family arrives?” “Will school be delayed in the morning because of the weather?” “What will happen at my meeting today?” etc. I could go on and on.

But this is what I’ve been learning: if we truly want to stop the anxiety and stop the negative thought patterns that perpetuate our worry, we have to replace anxious thoughts with Godly thoughts. 

Our minds do not maintain a vacuum-like state very well. I mean, how easy is it for you to just sit and think about nothing? No, our minds need focus. We need something positive to focus on.

Let me lead you now to some things that help me. First of all, worship music. If I’m praising God, I’m not thinking about my problems. Simple as that.

Secondly, and oh so very important, the Word of God. Here are some great verses that you can claim if you struggle with anxious thoughts.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:6 (NLT)

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)

And now dear brothers and sisters, on final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 (NLT). —Or just think about Jesus if that list intimidates you–He’s all of those things anyway!

And for when you can’t sleep… “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” Psalm 4:8 (NLT)

So cast off your anxious thoughts. Do not let them keep cycling in your brain, leading you to more and more stress. Don’t be like my son and re-play your thoughts and let them drive you into fits. Fix you mind on Jesus and the Word of God.

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Kristen Johnson

Kristen is an "accidental farmer's wife" and stay-at-home mom of 3. Accidental, because it was never in her plan to "just" be a mom. But it was God's. Former English teacher now turned MOPS Coordinator and Speaker, Kristen now writes at nap-time, blogging about her silly kids and her farming adventures, as a mom Called by God. She lives in Minnesota on a farm with her family, dog and 5 cats.