Thankful and Anxious?

Can You Be Thankful and Anxious?

No!

They don’t go together. You probably already knew that, but I wanted to highlight it for you. ūüôā

Research has shown that gratitude cannot co-exist with fear. It turns out that gratitude and compassion can be powerful natural remedies to anxiety.

Jennifer Miller

In Zulu, we would say that they chase each other. Ziyaxosha. adorable picture of cat being chasedThink of a dog chasing a cat. The cat has no desire to stay put if a huge German Shepard is charging its way.

What a great mental image for us to ponder. If you are consciously pursuing a brain neural pathway of thinking thanks, a natural result is that anxious thoughts move on quickly.

Chasing Anxiety

Philippians 4:6 strongly encourages us to not be anxious about anything.  Instead we are to pour our hearts out to the Lord with thankfulness. That is our part. But then our living and listening God responds.

The Lord rewards us by infusing our minds with a peace that “surpasses all understanding” – literally, a peace that stands out, rises above, and is better than normal human comprehension, thinking, feeling, or reason.¬† And that peace puts a shield around our hearts (emotions) and minds (ponderings).

I would call that a pretty good deal for us!¬† Just remember that, at times, God’s peace is so beyond understanding that others will think that we are in denial or blocking things out or moving into abnormal psychology.¬† But we’re not.¬† We’re just being resolutely thankful to a God who, in His meticulous providence, ordered things as they are for me right now.

Turning Knowledge Into a Skill

So if I am convinced that it would be good for me to work on becoming thinkful, how do I develop that skill?  You have to retrain your brain through repetition Рwe do this with anxiety, so we can also do it with thankfulness.

Here’s a good idea from Tanya J. Peterson:

Play a Gratitude Game to Help Anxiety

True gratitude is about more than saying thanks. A grateful mindset is developed purposefully and with practice. By playing a gratitude game, you begin to shift your focus away from anxiety and onto other, more positive, aspects of your life.

The game is an ongoing scavenger hunt. You will need:

  • The¬†Scavenger Hunt List¬†below (print it or copy them down);
  • Something to hold one challenge on each page¬†112a(like a journal or a ring with index cards).

The Scavenger Hunt List contains challenges – positive things, people, situations, and concepts to purposefully seek out and write down what you’re thankful for. Take the list and write one challenge on each page or card, and you’re ready to begin.

Now, look for at least one thing every day. Approach it playfully. When you look for things to be thankful for, your thoughts begin to drift away from anxieties.

Your Gratitude Scavenger Hunt List:

  • Unexpected down time (What did you do?)
  • Someone who makes you laugh
  • Spending time with a friend
  • Something that went well today
  • A chance to do something nice for someone else
  • A personal trait
  • Someone who is a positive part of your life
  • A cherished photo
  • A talent you have
  • Writing a letter of gratitude to someone
  • Stopping and smelling the roses
  • A chance to do something nice for yourself
  • Time spent outdoors
  • An opportunity to make someone feel heard
  • Something that brought a smile to your face today
  • A fond memory
  • An evening spent with friends/family with no electronics
  • Something that someone did for you
  • Your ability to perform a random act of kindness
  • A teacher who inspired you
  • A kind comment someone said to you
  • Someone who listened to you
  • Hearing someone laugh
  • Laughing

The shift of perspective that comes with gratitude helps anxiety because it changes where you look and how you think. It’s a way of beating anxiety at its own game.

I would encourage you to get a journal of any size or shape and just start recording things that you are thinkful for. Let this simple game be a jumpstart to get into the habit of at least recording one thing a day.

In time you may “up your game” and record five things a day. As you craft this neural pathway in your brain, you may in time even be able to see things to think thanks about in hard things, but let’s leave that for now. ūüôā

Logo

Th(i)nkful (adj) describing people who choose to download grace/strength from the Lord to think thanks about every circumstance in their life and to express that thanks orally or in written form.

Regarding Home

The Problem with “Home”

Screen Shot 2019-07-13 at 10.11.09 AMMy life in the will of God right now is a bit crazy. We have two “homes” – an apartment in Amanzimtoti, South Africa, and a mission-owned house in Atlanta to which we return twice a year while we train new missionaries.¬† It is bizarre to leave home … to go back home!

There are three key elements that help me feel at home: the presence of my husband, music that we play in the house, and a Yankee Candle called Home Sweet Home.  We light this candle, its fragrance fills the place, and my nose tells me I am home.

When God’s Word Finds A Home

My mind and heart are also homes, and many things live in them; some residents bring peace and others cause conflict. This morning I was meditating on Colossians 3, and came to verse 16:

“Let¬†the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,¬†singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,¬†with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

a blog on the bibleThe Apostle Paul writes that the message about Jesus should be at home in us profusely, filling every room, like that Yankee Candle.  His Word should fill and flavor our thinking, influencing what we want, what we mediate on, and eventually what we say and do.

As we are changed, we end up sharing this potpourri of the soul with each other, exchanging insights, singing deep truths captured in new songs and golden oldies, with heart-compelled thankfulness to the Lord. In True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer wrote:

“A quiet disposition and a heart giving thanks at any given moment is the real test of the extent to which we love God at that moment.”

Can God’s Mission Be Home?

I want you to know that home can be somewhere else from where you have always known it to be. Because of the great love of our Savior, we can choose to make home where He wants us to go. Yes, it may feel a bit awkward at first, and that we somehow are turning our back on our incredibly loved extended family members, but God pours out grace for us to create home in a new place, embrace His will and, in time, even love it.

a blog on BMW

David and I are presently in the midst of helping out with missionary training at our mission¬†headquarters outside of Atlanta, GA.Our days are full of serving in different capacities from teaching, counseling new and older missionaries, helping with the youth sessions, serving in the nursery, recording videos for the mission … and the list goes on.

There are so many conversations with people getting ready to take their “home” around the world. At times, I feel I get a little glimpse of just how important these days are to our Savior, the Lord Jesus.

As an MK (missionary kid) I am very aware of the costs of missionary life. My family first crossed the Atlantic by boat to make a home in Norway in 1964, when I was 4 years old.¬†¬†Since then we have always taken flights. ūüôāa blogpost about oceanliners

David and I took our four children and made a home in South Africa over twenty years ago. In the group currently going through missionary training here at HQ, there are three people headed for South Africa, all aware of the coming cost of serving cross-culturally.

The idiom “Home is where the heart is” actually means one’s home is made up of the¬†places¬†and¬†people¬†one¬†loves¬†or¬†cherishes¬†most. As we grow to love and cherish our Lord God, we can find home anywhere He chooses for us to be, but in reality and in the long haul, heaven is our home.

I hate to break it to you, but your life will be over soon. Live in such a manner that when you finish, you will be filled with thankfulness and not regrets.Muizenberg Beach huts, South Africa edit #2