In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Phillippians 4:6-7 WEB
This summer, I pushed myself too hard one day in the garden. I am used to gardening for hours on end, but I didn’t realize just how hot and humid it was outside. I tried to push through what I was feeling, but that was a bad idea. I ended up giving myself heat exhaustion. After I healed from that stress, I found the rest of the summer I was much more susceptible to over-heating while gardening.
A few weeks later, I recognized that I was truly stressed over the fact that I was not doing as much gardening as I had on my to-do list. I was angry at myself, I was frustrated, and the result was me making myself very anxious trying to get everything accomplished in one day. Between ministry, college, and household tasks, the garden was just stirring up in me a lot of things I did not want in me, but also did not want to admit.
I recall how, when I was doing one task, I was fussing and fretting in the background of my mind about the things that were not getting done. The more I fussed and fretted, the more I made myself anxious. The more anxious I got, the more I made myself angry, and then the more I fussed and fretted. I put myself into an interesting conundrum. I was so worked up inside, that I honestly didn’t know how to make it stop.
One day following my daily personal prayer time, I got this idea. I know the idea didn’t come from myself; it was clearly of Yahweh. The Holy Spirit whispered in me to micromanage my life. Now to most people that would NOT make sense and would not be a positive thing to do. Yet I knew it was right for me. So, I sat down and let the ideas flow while I drank a cup of coffee.
I knew that each module of my college class took a certain amount of time daily, cooking supper takes a certain amount of time, and on and on. The gardening was the tough one. It was overwhelming as the produce started to come in and the weeds came up. It simply looked like hours and hours and hours!
I figured out that on cooler days I could garden for about 30-minute spurts before I needed to quit. Hot days were about 10-15 minutes at most. So, throughout the day, I split up the tasks that needed to get done into micro-tasks and scheduled them throughout the day. Sometimes doing such small tasks as picking green beans in the morning, cucumbers around noon, and pulling weeds in the afternoon or evening. I expected this to alleviate the anxiousness in my mind, but it didn’t seem to work.
I went to Yahweh in prayer and asked what I was doing wrong. Suddenly I recognized that I was still fretting while I was doing other tasks. If I was cooking, I was worrying about the garden, cleaning, laundry, etc. But then if I was doing the gardening, I was worrying about college, cooking or something else! I found that none of the tasks were getting fully done, done well, or even enjoyable anymore at all.
I was trying, but things were just not quality work like I was used to from myself. Then there was the day I got a “C” on one of my quizzes in my class. I had been so concerned about something else that my grade had literally suffered – I wasn’t paying careful attention to the questions and answers. Now there was clear evidence what I was doing in my mind was becoming a detriment.
I had to do something more. I realized that I needed to go beyond just scheduling the micro-tasks. I needed to learn to shut off my brain running in the background.
It’s kind of like your laptop computer. Have you noticed that sometimes things are truly whirling around in the background while you are trying to accomplish a task? And while you are trying to accomplish that task, those programs running in the background slow you down and sometimes even interfere with the program you are currently working in.
On a Windows computer, you go into your Task Manager and you click “End Task” on programs or apps that are running and slowing you down. That is what my brain was like this past summer. It had too many programs and APPs running in the background and my CPU was running at 100% plus!!! The result was the program I was working on at that moment, slowed down and suffered because of all that unnecessary background usage!
Now I know, when I start to get myself worked up like that, I need to stop, and click “End Task” on all those thoughts running in the background. I take quick notes if I need to of what needs to be done on those tasks so that I can remember later what to expect from that task. Then I walk away. Thoughts and concerns, everything needs to be shut off and focus back on the task which needs completing.
I know. . . you may be thinking it’s easier said than done. YES! It is sometimes, and I admit that. I still get myself worked up a bit – I did it last Friday in fact. Yet once I stopped and took a deep breath, wrote down what needed to get done, and worked on one thing at a time, while turning off the concern of all the other things, I was surprised at how quickly I completed everything on my list.
Some days I forget that when Yahweh tells us to worry for nothing, He really does mean for nothing.
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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