Luke 10:41 - “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things.”
Do you ever feel like you’re being put down when others accuse you of being worried all of the time when in fact, you’re just being cautious?
This can include trying new prescriptions for mental health issues. We may have had bad reactions in the past and are cautious about trying new medications. This is a valid concern and not just being worried about trying them.
Let’s take a look at the difference between being cautious and worried from Merriam-webster.com:
Cautious – Careful about avoiding danger or risk.
Worried – Mentally troubled or concerned; feeling or showing concern or anxiety about what is happening or might happen.
As you can see, being cautious is not the same as being worried. When deciding if you should follow a course of action, it’s important to weigh all of the pros and cons to see if there is any danger by following it. A certain amount of danger or risk happens if we take a step into new territory. But it doesn’t necessarily mean we are showing excess worry.
In fact, there are more risks worrying yourself sick over what may never happen even if you feel they will. Doors that were open can be shut to you, because you didn’t act when the time was right, but waited and then it was too late. The door slammed shut.
On the other hand, if you are cautious, you may find that it’s not in your best interest to walk through an open door. However, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get upset about it. We aren’t always supposed to walk through an open door.
So how do we know if we’re being cautious and are examining our options, or are worried about something going wrong when it may never happen? Here’s some tips on making life decisions on psychologytoday.com in their article, “How to Mindfully Make Important Life Decisions.” Their tips include slowing down, unless it is an emergency, and reflect on your priorities, your goals and your values; and, accept that making important decisions can be hard because they have lasting consequences.
When you’re tempted to go into worry overload because you don’t know if you should move in a certain direction, remember that even Jesus pointed out to a woman in the Bible named Martha, who was worrying about all of the little details of preparing a meal, instead of doing what her sister Mary was doing and listen to what Jesus had to say. We can be like Martha if we’re not careful. Look at the facts in front of you and take them to God before making a decision. He can help us realize that if he’s placed a decision in front of you, he is capable of helping you weigh the risks and use caution instead of just worrying and not taking action.
Luke 14:28 - Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?
Some people approach a problem and before they move forward they first see if they have the resources and if they can solve it by themselves. All the outcomes and procedures they know may indeed lead them to the answers, thus allowing them to complete the task; but they must be sure they must first look at what it will cost them to complete in both time and money. Then a decision can be made.
Second, if the task is more than they are trained for and have experience in, they may decide they cannot complete it by themselves and must ask for help. The cost for this choice may involve hurting their pride a little, but seeking help may actually show the willingness of an individual to join in partnership with others and find they can solve the problem together.
Unfortunately there is a third approach that’s possible. This group of people will never “stoop so low”, to ask for help. They would rather watch the problem grow in intensity thus causing other problems to pop up that they hadn’t seen coming. So they try to prove they can find the solution, but in the process they use up resources they which were meant for another task to be completed. And so they fail in completing the current task and also the one that was to be done in the future. If they had only counted the cost first, they may have succeeded.
There is one more approach that many choose. They decide to do nothing. They have counted the cost, but are too afraid to try to solve the problem on their own. And they won’t ask for help because in doing so they feel that they may look incompetent to not only solve this problem, but are also unable to do their job.
Which group do you fall into?
No matter what your choice is remember that there is always going to be a cause and effect as a result of your decision. You must count the cost, because it includes not just the time and finances it takes to get the job done, but also the emotional cost and how it can affect our well-being.
As I mentioned above, when you find yourself in need of help, in asking for it, you may feel like you’re less than competent or your pride gets bruised. These costs may seem minimal, but as one project follows another, doubts about yourself can lead to depression and anxiety. We can become afraid of what will happen to us.
If we have someone to cheer us on, our depression and anxiety can be set aside and the new goal acted upon. But if those around us tell us that we can’t complete it our well-being takes a downward turn.
How do we count the cost to our emotional well-being when decisions have to be made? Take a look at Harvard Business Review’s (hbr.org) article, “Don’t Let Emotions Screw Up Your Decisions.” In the article it discusses how our feelings can offer relevant and important feedback about a decision, but irrelevant emotions triggered by a completely unrelated event can take us off track.
A decision always comes with an emotional cost. But if you take that decision to God, just as the Bible verse above states, he can help you sit down and estimate the cost and help you take the best course of action.
Isaiah 65:2 - All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations.
Couldn’t I have?
Regrets. We all have them. We have things we think could’ve been prevented. But once something’s happened, you can’t take it back no matter how much you wish you could.
I’ve spent the last few weeks looking back over what’s happened. I think of all the things I could’ve done differently. I think of all the things I wish someone I care about would forgive me of.
And the more I looked back, the more that ache inside my chest began to rise up.
We have to ask ourselves if we really could’ve done things differently. Maybe if I hadn’t shared my feelings. Maybe if I’d listened more and talked less. Maybe if I’d reached out sooner. Maybe. If only. I regret. But we can’t go back in time.
No matter how hard we try, no matter how strong our regrets are, we’re only wasting time imagining how things could’ve looked like. But the past is the past. The only way we can keep from developing things we may regret later is to stay in the moment. Focus on what you can do today. Right now. This will lessen the possibilities of regret.
No one is perfect. Not you, or the person you may have hurt. But is it only the other person who was hurt? Are things always our fault? No. Sometimes the person you care about just decides to vomit on us with their negative, fault-finding words.
Let’s decide that we are going to try our best to let go of our regrets and move forward. But how do you move forward and stop letting regrets rule your live? Huffingtonpost.com has a great article titled, “10 Ways to Live Life with no Regrets.” In it they list let your loved ones know you love them and keep your work at work.
There is a warning we must heed just as the Bible verse above says. We walk in ways that are not good if we pursue our imaginations. That means that if we keep thinking about our regrets, we will eventually create another situation we regret. God can help us see more clearly if we turn to him as our hearts aches with regret.
Ezekiel 12:21-23 - The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’? Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, ‘The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled.’”
Visions. These are things we work toward in our lives. They give us direction and focus because we are driven to pursue them with all our strength and resources.
So each day we take one step forward toward that vision of our life. But what happens when life caves in on us and buries our visions; sometimes for good.
Now, we are unsure of what to do. We’re even unsure of where our lives are headed.
Do we find another dream or do we throw each rock that buried our vision and try again? Sometimes we don’t just give up on the vision we were working toward, but all visions. Maybe we just don’t believe in them anymore and we stop striving for anything in our life.
Sometimes trying again is all we need to achieve our vision. But what happens when no amount of digging unburies our dreams?
It’s time then to take some steps to finding and working toward the visions for your life. Huffingtonpost.com has an article titled, “A Vision for Your Future,” which discusses what makes a vision and how to create a bigger version of yourself.
Lastly, take a look at the Bible verses above. Israel had been in captivity and their visions of living in the Promised Land and they thought that all visions would come to nothing. Most of the people had been exiled but the few that were left found out there would be more visions. The Lord told them that now a day would come soon when every vision would be fulfilled. Our visions, too, can become unburied and come to pass.
Philippians 3:12 - Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
It had been an awful day. The things that happened weren’t supposed to happen. I found myself with thoughts of what was and what might have been and I traveled down the staircase of regret.
It just seems like after I think I’ve gotten over something, it comes back and slaps me across my face. And the pain and sorrow threaten to ruin me again.
But it isn’t just climbing back up that we must put our energies into. It’s also the attitudes we hold in our hearts.
Sometimes the hurts are so strong that they drive us into a dark cave where we press our face against the back wall. But we can’t stay in hiding forever.
When awful things happen in our lives, how to we move beyond what happened and into the hope of a new tomorrow?
Psycologytoday.com posted the article, “Let it Go,” which can help you make changes in your life such as changing your story and ruthlessly discarding the things in the past that are necessary in order to move forward. It isn’t easy, but it’s better than living the way you are now.
So I say as the Bible verse above talks about, I try to press forward and aim for the prize that awaits me just around the next corner in my future. God will help us gain the strength we need and that staircase won’t be as hard as we think it is to climb.
1 Samuel 18:7-9 - As they danced, they sang: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands." Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. "They have credited David with tens of thousands," he thought, "but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?" And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.
In life there is always a trade off:
Yet, you wonder.
Why are there so many trade-offs in life?
The answer may lay in the way you look at your life. You may feel like you have every reason to be bitter, but who does that help? Certainly not you. It only deepens the sorrow and may make you want to give up.
Life is full of trade-offs, but that doesn’t mean that your life is completely an unfair gathering of pain and suffering. Psycologytoday.com shows us in their article, “Life is a Series of Trade-offs,” that trade-offs mean that you have the chance to show the world that though there are trade-off, there is freedom to be found if we can accept life on life’s terms.
The article above provides a way that we can find a balance in our lives. Focus on what you can do. What you will receive, if you take the step that has a trade-off.
The Bible verses above takes place when David was anointed the future king of Israel. The positive trade-off was that he gained popularity with the people. However, David’s successes were causing the current king, Saul, to felt threatened and he tried to kill David. But it didn’t stop David from believing in the future God had promised him. We too, can feel the rush of being “chased after” by the negatives of a trade-off. Trust that God will help protect you while you wait for the positive of a trade-off to become stronger than the negative just as God did for David.
Genesis 15:13 - Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.”
Beneath your feet the ground begins to move. You try to find something to latch onto, but nothing is within reach. Everything seems far away like as if you’re on a desert island and the sand is slowly slipping down all around you.
You open your eyes and the sandstorm swirls all around you making your eyes sting. The visibility is almost zero. You hold up your hand and cannot make out its edges.
You open your mouth to cry out for help, but your voice gets swallowed up in the sound of the raging sandstorm.
Nothing seems real. Nothing seems to makes sense. Nothingness opens its mouth and swallows you.
Uncertainty. The unknown. Life is like that sandstorm whirling all around us. So few things are sure. So few things stay the same, like the shifting sand on a desert island.
Your uncertainty feeds your anxieties. It moves them into a giant, shapeless sand dune. Fear wants a way of escape, but depression stopped caring a long time ago.
It’s important when battling mental illness that some kind of parameters are set up. It can be as simple as making a list of things to do each day. That way you have something to work towards finishing.
Leaving a small calendar sitting out on your desk or on a kitchen counter can help you make plans as you write on it the dates of doctor’s appointments or those with a therapist. Though an appointment may get rescheduled, you’ll still be able to have an idea of what you know is coming up.
It can also help to keep the furniture in your home in a set place. Knowing where things are in your home and keeping your list and calendar up to date can provide some solid ground to walk on.
Find some other methods to deal with uncertainty in the article, “7 Ways to Deal with Uncertainty So You Can Be Happier and Less Anxious,” on tinybuddha.com, such as replacing expectations with plans and preparing for difficult possibilities.
One thing you can know is that what God says is certain. If he says he will do something, he will. Take a look at the Bible verse above. Though the Israelites were going into exile because they had disobeyed God over and over, they could know for certain that they wouldn’t live in an unknown land forever. When the four hundred years were up, God would rescue them. God can rescue you from your fears of the unknown and help you find some certainty in a world that is ever changing.
Philippians 3:13, 14 - Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
It is inevitable that life will change. For those of us who resist change it can be as painful as any emotional pain.
Change always brings something new but also something is lost. Coming to grips with losing what we had is the only way that we can truly find peace and happiness.
Change can be caused by people who push their will on you thinking that because you’re “emotionally unstable” it won’t matter if they hurt you.
Events can bring about change such as a divorce which shatters your heart and those of your family, because “you had to always have your way.” What does that mean any way? Many times someone will say this because they can’t come to grips that a failed marriage was partly their fault and not just all yours.
Change can sweep into your life because of your health; both your physical and emotional health can affect how you perceive your world. Having a mental illness wash into your life can make it difficult for you to accept the changes that come upon you.
Change also comes about through the painful loss of a loved one. Their absence brings change to families and their lives, because the loved one may have been the rock of the family and now your family has been left in a million pieces.
Change also arrives when a job that you’ve been good at disappears, because the company you worked for decided to change their organization and your job has been eliminated due to downsizing.
With all of these changes we must learn to shore up our emotional health and face that our lives have hit a rocky season. So what can help us accept change? Find some ideas from the article, “The Secret to Accepting Change,” on mydomaine.com, such as realizing you can't always control things and asking yourself why you are scared of change.
Remember, just as the Bible verses above say, we can take hold of change and move forward if we don’t keep trying to hang onto the past. We must try to believe we can press into a better future which will bring us closer to the goals God has for our lives.
Genesis 4:12 - When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Though this may seem like an odd topic to discuss, boredom can be a real enemy to those with physical or emotional pain with the loss of normal areas of our lives.
Perhaps you can no longer work.
Perhaps you can’t even venture far away from home.
Perhaps you find yourself over thinking about your disability.
Perhaps you feel you no longer have a purpose.
Perhaps you think there’s nothing you can contribute.
Perhaps you want to just give up on life.
These are all pitfalls that we can find dragging us down when our old routine is no longer possible. We just feel stuck and nothing feels interesting any more. And when we’re being dragged down, it makes our emotional pain increase and it becomes all we think about.
Yet, even if you can’t find fulfillment in your current life situation, there are ways to lift that boredom off your shoulders and throw it to the ground.
Wikihow.com has some great ideas such as learning a new skill and doing something you've been putting off, in the article, "How to Overcome Boredom.”
You can see that even though you no longer lead a “normal” life due to a chronic condition or emotional pain, there are ways that you can resolve your boredom and not be a restless wanderer as the Bible verse above says.
James 1:6 - But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
According to dictionary.com:
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing; belief that is not based on proof; belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion.
Doubt is to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe; to distrust; be undecided in opinion or belief; a feeling of uncertainty about the truth, reality, or nature of something.
So which way do you swing most of the time - faith or doubt?
For me, it depends on the circumstances. If I’m faced with making a small decision and need some advice from others, I don’t feel doubt that what they tell me is the wrong answer.
But if it’s a big decision and I would like to get some advice, sometimes even when receiving good advice I still waffle; unable to trust the advice I was given.
Many of you out there, who are strong optimists, probably don’t have a lot of difficulty placing your faith in something. But for me, because of my past, it’s difficult for me to trust anyone and most things.
I have real trust issues. Many of those issues I’ve tried to get past, but I still haven’t been able to for many years. And because of that mistrust, I’m uncertain if I’ve placed my trust in the right person or thing.
It’s embarrassing sometimes to be this way. And that’s another place that is the rub – I want to be an example of a person who has faith that God will give me the wisdom I need and to have faith and not doubt. But unfortunately, I think I miss the mark a lot of the time.
So how does a person go from doubt to faith? Wikihow.com has some suggestions in their article, "How to let go of Doubts," such as avoid perfectionism and learn to tolerate uncertainty.
As the Bible verse above states, when you ask God or someone else for direction, you must believe and not doubt or you will find yourself being tossed around and not going anywhere. God understands your uncertainties and instead of being angry with you, he will tenderly put his arm around you and lead you toward your destination.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.