What if?? Two of the most terrifying words in any language, having the power to light a flame of fear that can ignite a wildfire of panic-stricken anxiety that refuses to be quenched by even a torrential rain of tears.
In Angie Smith's book, What Women Fear, her chapter, "Sitting by the Well~Fear of 'What If...'" addresses the two kinds of "What ifs" that plague us...the "what if" of the unknown future and the "what if" of a regretful past. Angie says it like this: "The first idea is that something might happen in the future, and the second is the fear we made a poor decision in the past and life could have resulted differently."
The constant whirling of the SAME thought in our heads about what could happen or what did happen, can spin out of control. Beth Moore calls it a mind "stuck on the spin cycle."
So then the question is...how do we get out of this relentless hamster wheel of thinking?? (I found this picture and I HAD to include it!)We don't want to read another good book about fear and anxiety. We want to be mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy. Let's think on this together.
Something I always find fascinating is God's truth proven out in science. There are numerous studies out on how our brains work, and I could spout words like "basal ganglia," "dorsalateral striatum" and "dorsalmedial striatum" like I know what I am talking about:), but I don't even know how to pronounce them! This is basically what scientist in their studies have found over and over: Our brains LOVE habits (and they have the rat studies to prove it :) because once we have a habit in place, good or bad, we don't have to think much anymore. It can take a rest. A habit is much like a well worn track in our brain. A thought gets on the track and BOOM! it is at the end without much effort in between. Habits are the freeways of the brain. To break a bad habit and/or create a new one takes thought..a lot of it. I read an article, "This is Your Brain on Habits," by UCLA psych professor and researcher, Emily vonSonnenberg, that gives five steps to break a bad habit and cement into your brain a new one. Here are her steps (In my own non-psych words) with the Lord's truth right beneath:
1. Identify a positive habit and behavior you would like to adopt.
2. Identify the bad habit you want to break.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4
3. Recognize when you are beginning to head into that bad habit.
2 Corinthians 10:5
4. Instead of acting on the impulse to "go there," refocus. Consciously redirect your thoughts and actions to the new habit you want to form.
2 Corinthians 10:5 AND Philippians 4:8
5. Substitute the new behaviors of the new habit for the bad behaviors of the old habit.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 over and over.
Basically, these scientists have found the secret that has really been no secret at all. The Maker of all minds in the universe says we have to stop thinking and behaving the old way and start thinking and behaving the new way and do it over and over and over and over and over...until our habit turns into meditation and our meditation into abiding and our abiding into our freedom.
So the "what ifs" from the past...capture them, lay them before the Lord and allow them to be bathed in the truth...that the Lord turns our ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61:1-3) and redeems...makes good everything we hand over to Him (Romans 8:28).
And the "what ifs" of the future...capture them, lay them before the Lord and allow them to be bathed in the truth...that the Lord is in control (Proverbs 19:21) and His plan for us is good (Jeremiah 29:11).
He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8 and Revelation 22:13). Beth Moore said once that the Lord is as present in your past, as He is right at this moment in your present, as He is in your future. You can ask Him to pour healing balm on those past regrets, hurts and pains because He is present in them. Time holds no constraints on Him!
We want freedom from the fear of the "what ifs" in life...let the Truth...let the Word...let the Lord God heal us!!!
Let's talk about how to find freedom from our bad thought patterns and encourage each other to the new. What did you get out of this week's chapter? Please leave a post here on the blog or on the DV Women's Ministry Facebook page. Simply ask to join our page to join in on the conversation. I truly want to hear what you have to say.
Love you, sweet sisters of mine!!!!!
PS If you want to read a little more on meditating on God's Word, here is a post from some years ago: It's a Cow Day!!