2 ways to combat worry & anxiety

I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get consumed with the “what if” questions.  What if my husband were to pass away?  What if we lost our income?  What if my kids make a really bad life-altering decision?  What if my husband becomes attracted to another woman?  When I start thinking this way, my serenity level plunges, and my anxiety level shoots through the roof!

Well, here are two decisions that both you and I can make in order to regain peace of mind:

1) We must decide to follow the instructions given in Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  In other words, we need to tell God all our concerns, ask Him to be in control, and then LEAVE the concerns in His hands!

2)  We must remind ourselves every morning that Jesus is FOR us and that we can trust Him to bring something good out of even the most daunting or difficult situation.  I mean, seriously, do we believe God loves us and that He is perfect in all His ways?  If we REALLY do, then we can relax and realize that, even in difficult circumstances, He has a plan to bring about good thing in the lives of those who love Him.  This is the essence of Romans 8:28… “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

Defusing argument before it can start

I’m on a journey of learning how to do relationships in a healthier, God-directed way!  I don’t know about you, but when I get really disappointed in my husband or anybody, I tend to go in one of two unhealthy directions.  1) I avoid the potential conflict entirely by clamming up, putting up an ice shield, and then spiraling down into toxic resentment or 2) I let my tongue run wild and blast the person with both barrels!  Neither one of these options yields good results.

God’s way is so much different and better!  He says in Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.  Gentle words.  Gentle words.  Gentle words.  I need to remind myself of this!  God is saying that we can avoid a nasty argument if we speak gently and kindly and maybe even assume the best about the other person instead of giving full vent to our anger.

I got to practice this a little while ago.  My husband was really stressed as we were on a long-distance drive.  I was attempting to help with googling a gas station, but my phone ran out of data.  Ugh.  Then he started getting really sharp with me in his tone.  I mean…REALLY sharp.  I felt disrespected.  And oh boy, I decided that I didn’t deserve that tone and that I was going to tell him what a jerk he was.  Yeah, pastor’s wives don’t always have gracious thoughts apparently. Sigh.

Anyway, somehow God got my attention before I blasted him and God reminded me of Proverbs 15:1.  So, I bit my tongue until we got all the way home, and as my husband was about to exit the car, I turned to him, laid a hand softly on his arm and said gently, “I know you love me and you would never intend to hurt me, but the way you talked to me back there was not okay.  Please don’t talk to me like that again.”  And that was that.  No big blow-up.  He didn’t feel condemned because I affirmed that I know he loves me.  With God’s prompting, I was able to defuse the nasty argument before it could start.  Gentle words.  Gentle words. Gentle words.  Let’s all remember that!

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Do NOT make major decisions if…

You may have heard of the acronym H.A.L.T.  It stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired.   It is a caution often used in addiction recovery where people are urged not to make any drastic decisions when one of those 4 conditions applies.

That’s a really good caution for wives as well!  Don’t make any major decisions about leaving your husband, filing for divorce, or even giving full vent to your temper if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.  However, I would like to add one more condition.  Don’t make any major decisions when….it’s that time of the month!!  Women are often so overly-emotional in the days leading up to their period, that we become drama queens!  Everything happening around us is exaggerated in intensity.  So, even though you feel like reacting in a dramatic way, remind yourself to pause and see if you still feel the same way 3 or 4 days later.

This verse comes to mind.  James 1:19-20  My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

How to bounce back

We’re all going to encounter some tough times in our marriage.  We’re all going to experience heartbreak and challenge in our lives in general.  The question is this.  Why are some people able to bounce back from adversity relatively quickly, and why do others seem to remain stuck?

At the risk of you hating me 🙂 …I’ll be honest and let you know that I tend to be very resilient.  After an initial period of shock and grief, I’m usually able to quickly pick myself up, dust myself off and move forward.  After pondering this ability with God, allow me to share a 3 word insight that might help you become more resilient too.

I trust God.  Period. Three little words that mean everything!  I have decided to believe that God of the Bible is indeed in control and that His ways are perfect.  I have decided to believe that God can and will bring something good out of my hardship.  This is what we learn at the end of Joseph’s painful story in Genesis, where Joseph proclaims in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”   I also take heart from Romans 8:28, where God says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I can bounce back because I trust God and because He says He will never leave me nor forsake me.  (Hebrews 13:5) Do you truly trust God?  It’s a decision you get to make, and it makes all the difference.

The art of being still

If you’re like most women, you’re busy…REALLY busy.   Most of us are multi-taskers to the max.  We are trying to balance housekeeping, with nurturing children, with investing in our marriage, with maybe even working full-time outside the home.  Oh, and you might be trying to help out at the local food bank or your church too!  More than likely, you’re exhausted, stressed, and maybe even a bit cranky.  Did I hit that nail on the head? 

How about if we all intentionally slow down?  What if you and I were to ask God in prayer for His direction on where we can cut something out of our busy lives?  Is there a better way to divide responsibilities in our home?  Should you cut out one of the kid’s activities? 

Do you simply need to take 10 or 15 minutes twice a day to be still with God?  Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”.  Maybe it’s time for us to carve out some time to be still for a few minutes each day, perhaps with a cup of lemonade sitting outside on a summer day or snuggled in a comfy chair listening to soft worship music.  I have a feeling that we will find our stress drain away as we enter a time of stillness, and as we become less stressed, everyone around us will benefit!  In fact, your husband may become the biggest fan of your “be still” time with God!  You’ll probably be less cranky. lol

Feel like giving up on your marriage?

Do you feel tempted to throw in the towel regarding your marriage?  I know it can be tempting to just bail out, but please let me encourage you to do everything you can to fight FOR your marriage!

When you’re going through a serious challenge in your marriage, it seems right to choose the path where the pain can be quickly relieved.  In a nutshell, it often seems best to choose divorce.  But I’ve been through divorce, and I can honestly say that even though some of your pain will be relieved, you’ll be faced with a whole new set of problems and heartbreak.

So, maybe you should try something else.  What if you were to seek outside counsel for your marriage? What if you were to spend time on your knees crying out to God on behalf of your marriage? What if you were to courageously, but respectfully, confront your husband if he is seriously out of line in some area?  That could be the beginning of a turn-around in your marriage.

And also, please consider that other people are watching how you handle challenging times. Your children are watching how you handle this.  Are you teaching them to bail out of situations and relationships when the going gets tough, or are you showing them how to persevere and do the hard work to restore the relationship?  Meditate on Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus…”

Yes, sometimes ending the marriage may be the right path, especially if there has been a pattern of affairs or abuse. But often, we choose to end a marriage because of resentment or unmet expectations or because “he’s not making me happy”. Please, please, please work to address the issues that are prompting you to consider divorce. There may be a way to develop a healthier perspective and a healthier relationship. This will likely take work, and the process could be painful, but often good things happen when we persevere through the pain!

Simple ways to show respect

If you’re a wife and a mom….life can get pretty busy!  If you’re a wife and mom and you work outside the home, well then life can be pretty chaotic and crazy!!

Sometimes in that busyness, we can get so caught up in chores and children that we unintentionally ignore our husbands!   So, here’s something I’m trying to remember to do.  When my husband enters the house after work, I’m trying to remember to actually pivot toward him and make eye contact.  I even try to throw in a smile as an extra bonus! Sometimes, I even take the 3 extra seconds to run over and give him a little kiss. J

I know this isn’t rocket science, but we often are so intent on our children or cooking or cleaning, that we don’t even glance our husband’s way.  That leaves him feeling unimportant and disrespected.  Remember, respect is a really big deal to men.  That’s why God instructs us in Ephesians 5:33, “The wife must respect her husband.”

So, give it a try.  Make eye contact with your husband when he comes home from work, and actually any time he enters a room you’re in.  Smile.  Make him feel happy to be in the same room you. He will feel more honored and respected. You will draw his heart to you and strengthen the bond between you. J

2 benefits from going “natural”

I’m coming to believe more and more that we would all benefit from living a more natural lifestyle…as in the way God created things to be!  Let me give two examples that might apply to you as a wife:

1) Did you know that most husbands, when surveyed, say they prefer their wives to wear less makeup?  The clear majority of men say they actually like their women to wear either no make-up at all or just light make-up.  In other words, they prefer a natural look…the appearance that God gave you in the first place!

2)  If you’ve been battling your weight, did you know that going all-natural can greatly assist you in dropping those extra pounds?  Let me tell you from personal experience, it’s true!!  For over 7 years now, my husband and I have been eliminating all refined and processed foods from our diet, and wow!  We are enjoying wonderful whole grain foods, cheeses, meats, fruits, veggies, etc.   We have both lost a lot of weight, my early on-set arthritis has disappeared, and we feel great!

Maybe God knew best when he created us 🙂    Deuteronomy 32:4 says “He is the Rock, his works are perfect…”   Maybe it’s time we got back to living the way God intended when he created us!

Avoid these 2 traps of the past!

There are a lot of dangers for a wife who gives into the temptation to look backward.   Allow me to reveal two specific ways in which we tend to look backward, as well as the resulting danger.

1)  Since almost the beginning of creation, we’ve had a tendency to want to look back at our past.  I think of Lot’s wife who looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah and suffered for that decision by being turned into a pillar of salt!  God may have asked us to move forward in serving him, or perhaps we’ve entered a new relationship, but we tend to look back with longing at how things used to be.  In modern day, many wives are tempted to “look back” at their old high school boyfriend by checking them out on Facebook.  But that is dangerous.  It opens the door to make a connection that can slowly develop into something that pulls you away from your husband. 

2)  As wives, we also tend to “look back” at the past failures or sins of our husbands.  We often replay the hurtful incident over and over again, even 10 or 20 years later!  That always ends badly.  Resentment rises up again and causes continuing damage in the relationship.  We need to have a forward gaze.  Philippians 3:13-14 says, ” Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”   Deal with any sinful behavior going on today, but let’s decide to leave the past in the past.

Dealing with a controlling husband

Many women struggle with following the leadership of their husbands because their men seem to be controlling, manipulative, or inconsiderate.  When is it proper to submit to such “leadership” and when is it appropriate to respectfully draw a boundary?

Well, according to the Bible, a godly husband will love his wife in a selfless way (Ephesians 5:25) and will treat his wife with consideration and respect (1 Peter 3:7).   These verses give us a pretty clear picture of what a godly husband looks like.  As a result, it seems pretty clear that a controlling husband, one who bullies or intimidates his wife and children, is NOT behaving in the way that God intended.

I believe a wife can respectfully confront a husband who is trying to control, intimidate, bully, or manipulate her.  She may need to lovingly, but firmly, establish boundaries on what she will tolerate. This might mean simply walking away when he begins to start bullying or controlling.  If he continues to follow you, it could mean even leaving the home for awhile. I would add that it would be very wise to consult with other godly women, a pastor, or a counselor before moving forward in establishing boundaries.  It’s always best to make sure that you are evaluating the situation clearly.