I was processing recently about a pattern I was beginning to see in myself: my internal default setting leans towards fretting a lot more these days.
I wouldn’t previously have described myself as an overly anxious or worrisome person. I’ve gone to places in the world some might fear going to. I love adventure and spontaneity, I’ve stepped out in risk and faith before. So what’s shifted lately?
Maybe its sneaking in as I get older? Or maybe there’s something in the current times we’re living that’s causing new “fret threats” to fly at us every day?
Fret threat - n-
Something in our environment, perceived or real, that would seek to instil worry, anxiety, fear or angst.
(I made it up.)
So now what? In that same processing space I asked God to show me the way out of this. Then a quote came to mind that I’d recently heard from St. Seraphim: “Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.”
The inner peace we as God’s children get to inherit ought to draw many to want the same.
My next processing thought was: “Oh great, another standard that’ll take super hero (or just super natural) strength to meet each day.”
But then I was drawn to the book of Peter:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. -1 Peter 5:6-10 (ESV)
As I read, I felt God was answering my prayer with some keys to see and apply:
1. Humble myself. Remember the truth of who I am: a child of God. Sometimes it seems to take such disciplined faith to belief the truth that God does actually like us.
2. Remember that God. Is. Mighty. His might is perfect and pure.
3. Cast your anxieties on him. This was helpful! Sometimes I think everyone in the book of Acts was a “full of faith superhero” who never felt anxious. But they did. And so do we. The difference is knowing what to do with the anxieties when they come.
4. Remember with gratitude that He cares for you! That seems so obvious but that helps motivate me to come and approach him with my worries and to let him lead me in what to do with these worries.
5. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Keep remembering what’s good for me and what’s not. Maybe checking the news app multiple times a day isn’t the best idea….
6. Acknowledge there IS an enemy and his only M.O. is to actively work against me and the kingdom purposes God has for me.
7. Resist the devil. Remember what helpful ways I’ve been taught to do this and practice it again.
I felt like it was a very precious space where God really did meet me in my request. Fast forward 3 days later, I’m trying to go to sleep and seemingly out of the blue my mind starts fretting again. That made me fret ABOUT fretting. I sensed even in that moment it was a chance to remember some of those 1st Peter keys and try to implement them.
There’s so many fret threats out there it can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. There are keys and ways the Holy Spirit can help us. I found such encouragement in what Peter wrote such a long time ago. I received it as a prophetic promise for myself. I hope and pray it’s helpful for you to remember as well.