Friday, November 06, 2015

Winning Over Worry and Anxiety: The Testimony of J.C. Penney

 In a J.C. Penney publicity photo, Penney fits shoes to young customers. Many of the company’s children’s shoes were made in Hamilton. Photo courtesy of the JCPenney Company records, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Winning Over Worry and Anxiety, Part III

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."1

I have read how, in 1929, business tycoon J.C. Penney was in the hospital because of his severe anxiety. One night he was sure he was going to die, so he wrote farewell letters to his wife and son.

But he survived the night, and hearing singing the next morning in the chapel, felt drawn to go in. A group was singing, "God will take care of you," after which followed Bible reading and prayer.

Penney said, "Suddenly something happened. I can't explain it. It was a miracle. I felt as if I had been instantly lifted out of the darkness of a dungeon into warm brilliant sunlight. I felt as if I had been transported from hell to paradise. I felt the power of God as I had never felt it before.

"I realized then that I alone was responsible for all my troubles. I knew that God with his love was there to help me. From that day to this, my life has been free from worry. The most dramatic and glorious minutes of my life were those I spent in that chapel that morning."2

Most causes of anxiety and worry lie within ourselves. At best they are triggered by outside circumstances. Only when we admit to and resolve these causes, are we free to fully surrender our worries and anxieties to God and experience his peace.

Whether this peace comes instantly or over a period of time doesn't matter. The important truth to remember is that God is always there. His love and power are constant and available to all. As we reach out to Him through the fog of our worry and damaged emotions, we discover that He is waiting to help us if only we will be totally open and honest with Him, respond to His love, and give Him the chance to help us.

Every day, visualize Jesus being with you and opening yourself to receive His love, joy and peace. After resolving the causes of worry and anxiety as spelled out in Wednesday and Thursday's Daily Encounters, the ultimate source of worry-free living is found in learning to trust God fully for every detail and in every circumstance of our life.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, again today I commit and trust my life and every circumstance in which I find myself to You. I choose to trust You regardless of my feelings, and please help my feelings to catch up with my choice to trust You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."

1. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT).
2. S.I. McMillen, None of These Diseases (Westwood, N.J.: Fleming Revell Co., 1963), p.98.

 Stepping Stones.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Winning over Worry and Anxiety, Part II

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."1[/size]

An overload of worry and anxiety, like an overload of stress, is a killer. We all know that. More importantly, what we also need to know is how to win over such.

It begins with being able to see and admit our real fears, which are a basic cause behind many worries and anxieties. By facing and resolving these, and by learning to trust our life and circumstances to God, and giving our worries to Him—and leaving them with God. The following are other major causes of anxiety with helpful tips for winning over them.

First: If anxiety is situational—that is, caused by adverse circumstances or too much work, or not enough work—I find it helps to list all my pressures on paper. This is half the battle. I then eliminate the least important matters, work on the things I can do something about, and begin to learn to accept the things I cannot change and stop worrying about them.

Second: If the problem is caused by pent-up feelings, such as resentment, hurt, or anger, those feelings need to be expressed in healthy ways and resolved, otherwise they may cause ongoing worry and anxiety—or they may make you sick. If you're nursing a grudge, if possible put things right with the person you feel hurt you, and regardless, you need to forgive him/her.2

Some hurt or angry feelings can be talked out with a trusted friend or counselor. Or go for a drive in your car, park in a safe place where you can be alone, lock the doors, and with the windows closed, the radio turned up loud, talk to the person who hurt you as if they were in the car with you. Express freely your true feelings toward them, and do this as many times as necessary until all the pent up feelings are dissipated. Or if it helps, go to the bedroom and cry your hurt and/or grief feelings out, or write them out as David often did in the Psalms.

One night when I was worried and couldn't sleep, I got up and typed a letter to God sharing all my feelings with Him. Within a half-hour I had released my pent-up feelings. I then read them back to God, tore up the page, went back to bed, and fell asleep immediately.

Third: Good, hard physical exercise is also helpful when you're feeling worried or anxious. It helps burn up excess adrenalin.

Fourth: If your worry is caused by unmet emotional or spiritual needs, you can remedy this by growing in your relationship to God and others—both of which are keys to vital, worry-free living. A spiritual-growth group or a good twelve-step recovery group can be a big help for worriers. As you open up your true self to others and to God and feel their love and acceptance, you can slowly exchange feelings of fear, guilt, anger, inadequacy, anxiety, and worry for feelings of hope, confidence, peace, and love.

"Perfect love drives out fear,"3 wrote the Apostle John in the Bible. So we need to ask God not only to help us overcome our fears, but also to fill us with love. The more we love and trust God and others, the less we fear man and circumstances.

To be concluded in tomorrow's Daily Encounter, Part III.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to face and resolve the causes behind all my worries, cares, and anxieties. And 'give me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.' Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."

1. 1 John 4:18 (NIV).
2. See Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV).
3. 1 John 4:18 (NIV).

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Photo Credit: Greenway Dental.

Winning over Worry and Anxiety, Part I

"Don't worry about things—food, drink and clothes ... don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time."1

It's Monday morning. The weekend is over. The alarm clock blares out its hideous jangle and suddenly you are snapped into the world of reality. First comes the struggle to get out of bed, then the rush to get to school or work on time, and then comes the stress of trying to juggle all one's seemingly endless responsibilities. Or just the opposite may be true for those out of work.

Is this how your week starts? And aren't these pressures mild compared to the ones you face as the day and week wear on?

We live in a world of ever-increasing stress and worry with school, work, and family, financial, social, and relational pressures. Not many people are free from worry of some kind.

Worry and anxiety are major problems of contemporary society. In excessive amounts they can take years off your life.

Some people like to think that things don't bother them. "No problem," they say as they put on a brave front and reach for the aspirin or alcohol bottle to deaden their fears, worries, and anxieties.

However, it isn't possible to deaden inner anxiety. Unresolved, it will reveal itself in many ways.

For instance, George withdraws when he is upset, hurt, or uptight. Susan talks endlessly to cover her anxiety. Bill chain smokes to avoid facing his. Harry attacks when he feels threatened. Jack dominates, and Jill procrastinates. Dennis is a constant complainer. Joan is a compulsive eater, Fred a compulsive drinker, Tom a compulsive worker, and Frank a compulsive gambler—all because of unresolved worry and anxiety.

Anxiety may also express itself in a physical way. Stuttering, abdominal pains, high blood pressure, a twitch, allergies, ulcers, nervous stomach, tension headaches—all have been named by doctors as symptoms of anxiety and worry.

Yes, sooner or later unresolved worry and anxiety will win out. When one fails to creatively talk out his worries, he will act them out in some destructive way.

Long ago the Bible pointed out that "a relaxed attitude lengthens a man's life."2 Jesus himself said, "So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes.... Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."3

And the Apostle Paul wrote, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus"4

However, it's one thing to know about God's peace and another thing to experience it. And as E. Stanley Jones said, "Worry is the interest we pay on tomorrow's troubles."

To be continued. See tomorrow's Daily Encounter.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to come to terms with my fears, worries and anxieties, and learn how to resolve these and trust more fully in You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."

1. Mathew 6:25 and 34 (NIV).
2. Proverbs 14:30 (NLT).
3. Matthew 6:25 and 34 (NIV).
4. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT).

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