How do you stay confident when things are drying up around you?
A friend of mine is facing a tough situation. His job is drying up and drying up fast. He has four kids and a wife and the equity in his home has dwindled greatly over the past few months. He would prefer to stay where he is but job prospects here are non-existent. He is facing the possibility of moving to another locality either in the interior of B.C. or even changing provinces in order to make a living and provide for his family. He is concerned about his kids as to how they will do in a new community and how well they will adapt to making new friends. His wife just got a part time job and she is thrilled with it. She is just getting back into the work force after being a stay at home mom for the past 15 years. A move will be a big adjustment for her as well. What to do?
How do you stay confident when your world as you know it is shaking and major changes are needed?
Jesus once told his disciples that they would know the truth and the truth would set them free (John 8:32). He says in this context that if we hold to his teachings the truth will set us free. Part of that freeing is when the truth begins to penetrate our thoughts about ourselves and our situations.
Counselors and Psychologists will tell you to “tell yourself the truth” and what you tell yourself about yourself and your situation has a serious impact on your emotions. What you tell yourself about your situation will trigger other thoughts that are related to that very thought you spoke and so a train of thoughts can begin to gather and take you somewhere. You must decide if that destination, that mindset, is where you want to go.
What can we be telling ourselves that will take us to confidence and calm rather than anxiety and worry and indecision?
Firstly: Keep your heart warm rather than cold.
When I was 20 years old I had an anxiety attack that would not go away. I was not a Christian and entered into a state of ongoing anxiety such that if I was reading a book I could not remember what I had read at the top of the page when I got to the bottom of the page. I finally left university and got a job. During that year I accepted Christ and finally went back to school. During this next year I had many moments when I would feel overwhelmed while trying to study alone in my apartment. Not knowing what else to do I would take a hymnal down from the shelf and start to sing every hymn that I knew—sometimes over and over—until I calmed down.
Here is the principle: Worship your way into a state of calm. Use your MP3 player to refresh yourself with praise. Eat it like food. Stir up the Holy Spirit within you and keep him stirred up. He loves to worship. Keep it hot inside and this helps to clear the fog of lies from your mind.
Secondly: Remind yourself that all your sins have been forgiven and cast as far away as the east is from the west. All of your sins from the past and all of your sins of the future have been already forgiven through the shed blood of the cross. Proclaim it over yourself. No need to second guess yourself and God. When we sin we simply need to admit it to God and to ourselves. We don’t need to come to God and beg him for his forgiveness. It is a finished work! What Jesus did on the cross is entirely enough. No moaning or begging God to forgive you. It is done. For you there will be no judgment of your sins in the future. When you face the Father of Lights he will welcome you and embrace you with a lovely smile because all your sins are gone. Your works will face his light of truth but you yourself will be in perfect peace, complete peace because you, yourself are completely clean of all sin. So no rehearsing of the past and your past failures before him or in your own mind. All is well with him.
Thirdly: Take authority over all labels that you have received from other people and instead proclaim God’s truth over yourself and your situation. Even positive labels can be deceiving. Renounce them in Jesus name. Our identity is safe with Jesus. In him we are called “My beloved son or daughter in whom I am well pleased”. That was the word that was spoken over Jesus as he came out of the water and we are in him and no one can ever take us out of him. This is our true identity. Any other negative or positive labels that do not line up with that word we consider to be lies of the enemy and we will not receive it in Jesus Name. Again ever positive labels can lead you to build your worth on such a word instead of building on the words of Jesus. Satan wants us to build on anything else but Jesus. Compliments are fine. Labels however are another matter. We can privately send them to the cross in Jesus name. When faced with a painful situation announce that over any dark word about you that comes to mind. You are a child of the Light and you will live in the light even if others wish to live in their own darkness. The flip side of this is to proclaim the truth over yourself as to what God’s plans are for you. Say it out loud regularly during your day. This is who I am and this is what God is leading me into. Picture what you are heading towards and put that into words. Stay focused here. You can choose where your mind is to stay and where it is to rest.
Fourthly: Remind yourself that God only invites you to ask and he responds to your need. Sometimes we can get an exaggerated view of faith thinking that we need to full of faith to hear from God or to receive from him. This is not the message of the New Testament. Jesus tells us that faith as a grain of mustard seed will move a mountain and cause it to be cast into the sea. A friend of mine was so worn out from running his restaurant that he knew he had to sell it. He kept praying until one day he told his wife “You pray I must simply go to work. That is all I can do. That is all the energy I have.” He went to work and all he could say to God was “I believe that Jesus lived and died and rose again”. He would repeat this to himself all day long and simply go about his work. That was all God needed. His restaurant sold for much less that he wanted. But then through an unexpected inheritance for exactly what he had lost, he was able to repay his loan at the bank. The point is this: Jesus accepted the thief on the cross when he said simply “Remember me...” and so it is with us. What father on earth would need anything more from a son who is in trouble? Jesus says “Keep on asking” meaning continue to keep leaving your need before God. Your prayers can be extremely simple.
Fifthly: Do what is in front of you to do. Jesus, when faced with the 5000 people that needed feeding says to his disciples “What do you have?” The question is still there today. What do you have to begin with in this situation? They only had five loaves and two fish. That is where they began. Everything begins with a small beginning. Be prepared to do what is before you to do and start there.
Sixthly: Forgive everyone every thing all the time. This is very basic but you need to realize that bitterness can and will slow you down and distract you from hearing and following God’s voice and direction. If necessary write a letter to the person who wronged you and include all of the feelings that you have felt from what happened. Do not send it to them. Rather read it out loud to a trusted friend and then choose to forgive the wrong doer in front of your friend allowing your friend to be your witness to your cleansing action. Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Some things need to be not simply known in our heads but owned with our lips and out loud with another present. James 4 mentions calling the elders of the church and owning the truth with them at times. Even a friend will do when we need to own what has gone down and who needs to be finally forgiven. Realize that forgiveness may need to be given every single time this comes up in your mind over and over again. But there will come a day when this wound will be healed and you will realize that the pain is gone and somehow you do not think about it anymore.
Lastly: Keep up your exercise routines and healthy patterns of de-stressing. Walk your dog. Play with your kids. Rent comedies and laugh often with your wife or husband or friends. Know that cleansing the body is important during times of stress. Your routines are important. Keeping them or letting them slide is an important indicator of what is happening inside. The minute you find yourself cutting them out you need to ask yourself what am I feeling right now? Have I believed a lie about myself or my future? Deal with it immediately and return to calm, relaxed place with God and keep doing what you can do to move things forward.