I am of a divided mind at times. It is important to me to stay abreast of the news and know what is going on in the world. It is rarely possible, though, to find news coverage that doesn’t have bias built in. I have to remain on alert to filter that and organize and interpret the facts. If I spend too much time following the news, or even discussing it, I grow either frustrated and downhearted to angry. Once I reach that point, I often then am filled with fear, worry, and anxiety.
When I recognize those old familiar signs I just have to STOP. I stop, breathe, pray, and think it through. I put my worries in God’s hands. When I do that, I can think clearly. Lech Walesa wrote, “Deep faith eliminates fear”. Of course he was right. Our own experiences and Scripture tell us that this is true. God is my refuge, my fortress, my strength. How silly of me to get scared then. It seems to me that I have certain orbits in my life that repeat themselves. I have lessons I seem to keep re-learning; mistakes that I keep making.
Yet by now I can see those patterns. That is new and encouraging to me. Perhaps it is because I am teaching my students to learn the patterns of similarity in various kinds of math problems. Life isn’t trying to trick me or trip me up. My goodness how self-centered of me to ever think that was the case! All I have to do each day when I encounter a situation is go through the check list I teach my students:
- Have I seen this kind of problem before–and what are the similarities
- What strategies have I used in this kind of situation that worked?
- What can I try this time, and what are the possible outcomes
- If I am scared and panicked what do I want to do about that
- I need to do some slow, deep breathing right now and affirm my possibilities
- Have I prayed about this?
- If I am stuck, is there someone who can help me
- What qualities and virtues of my own can I call upon to solve this problem
- Those steps and some others have helped my students overcome paralyzing test anxiety and some negative thought patterns. I think that I need to actually use that strategy when faced with my own worries and anxieties :-).
Psalm 34:5and 7 tells us “I sought the Lord, who answered me, delivered me from all my fears. In my misfortune I called, the Lord heard and saved me from all distress”. Don’t you just love Psalms? They are so rich in meaning for me. Sometimes they make me laugh out loud, like this one: Psalm 32:9 “Do not be senseless like horses or mules; with bit and bridle their temper is curbed, else they will not come to you”. I liked that this morning—senseless like horses or mules…..yeah, sometimes that is an apt description of me, I know. Of course, I only can see that in retrospect.
This morning after hearing the weather and traffic I turned off the news. “There is much in the world to make us afraid. There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid”.–Frederick W. Cropp.
Long ago there was, however, a stellar newsman named Edward R. Murrow. He said, “We will not be driven by fear…if we remember that we are not descended from fearful men”. Gosh I love positive, inspiring quotes. Could you tell? Oh! You like them too? They help keep me focused on my faith, which in turn keeps me optimistic. Have a fabulous day.