Ever since I can remember, my mind worked overtime thinking about all the dreadful events that could happen to my loved ones or me. I worried about major tragedies: plane crashes, rape, cancer. I even worried about minor situations: missing a payment due date, wearing the wrong thing to a social outing, having bad breath. However, most of those what-ifs were never realized.
Until, that is, the day my worst dread became a reality: My father was diagnosed with cancer. Finally my worries were justified. But now I had to decide: Who would be my companion through this crisis? Anxiety—or God?
While praying for my dad, I recalled Jesus' words in Luke 12:25-26: "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not! And if worry can't do little things like that, what's the use of worrying over bigger things?" (NLB). This message comes from the man who often didn't know where he'd eat or sleep; who constantly endured public criticism from many important people; who knew he'd die an excruciatingly painful death. I was ashamed. I didn't want anxiety to cripple me. I wanted to trust God and experience peace. "OK, God," I prayed through clenched teeth, "I'm turning Dad's health over to you. I'm trusting you want the best for my family. And I won't worry about something I can't control." That prayer was the toughest I ever prayed.
To follow through on my prayer, I began searching for strategies to rid myself of worry and fill my life with hope.
Pray in faith
For me, prayer wasn't the problem. The problem was telling God my worries and asking for his help, then holding on to them, like a tug-of-war. I kept reminding God to be as concerned about the situation as I was.
When I progressed from my 20s to 30s with no husband, I grew panicky. Oh, how I prayed and worried I'd be single forever. Finally, God impressed upon me he couldn't answer my prayers if I didn't have faith—the opposite of worry. He didn't promise that he'd answer "yes," just that he'd answer. I took a leap of faith and said, "God, I'm going to trust you know what you're doing. And if that means I never get married, then I'm not going to waste my life worrying about being single." When worry reared its ugly head again, I repeated that prayer. God didn't immediately answer with a "yes." But I discovered the more I prayed that prayer, the more I meant it. God eventually gave me a spouse, but by then I was enjoying my life so much, I'd stopped worrying about my marital status.
Ginger Kolbaba is the author of Desperate Pastors' Wives and The Old Fashioned Way. Connect with her on Twitter @gingerkolbaba.