The way I’ve rephrased this for myself is, “am I worrying or planning right now?” When thoughts cycle in my head (like water should go down a commode – but my fretful thoughts aren’t so easily flushed away), this is the question I ask myself. Planning is a viable use of my gifts of time and energy and spirit. Worrying sucks those gifts dry.
As a pastor, I’ve asked Church Councils many times, “is there a way we can turn this anxiety into excitement?” The anxiety comes because the issue at hand matters deeply to the people at the table. They are living out their servanthood, their love for God and neighbour, and whatever they’re worrying about, it’s important to them. In the anxiety, in the fear, in the worry – there is love, and love is exciting. In their anxiety are their hopes and dreams. That is so powerful – to claim the dream that the worry would cover with fear.
So often, worries are about money – whether it’s at a Church Council table, or in my own head (as we narrowly avoided bankruptcy in selling our house – I’m still fretting over those decisions – again, it’s something that deeply mattered and I’m still working out). Money worries often feel like they’re out of our control, and so what planning can we do? But you can’t give your life over to money issues. “Never cry over anything that can’t cry over you.” (-Cristin Marandino) Take time to write down both your worries and your dreams. Look at them in broad daylight, pray over them, and a 3rd step I’d recommend is getting help with a budget – Financial Peace University is a top-notch program, plus there are tons of other ways to learn budgeting out there. Turn your worrying into concrete planning. And then get a good night’s sleep.