Let me just get it right out there. I worry. I am a consistent worrier. I can say with nearly full confidence that on any given day I will worry, I will have doubts, and fear will come creeping into my mind. The area of my life that I find myself worrying about the most is not one I am all that happy to share with a multitude of people…so I figured I’d share it online. I think the term is, “Rip the Band-Aid!”
I worry about people. I worry about what people think. More specifically, I worry about what people think of me. Even, right now, I am wondering how this article will be received. Before I go any further, let me be sure to say that God is so working on me in this area. It is a slower process of healing than I would prefer…but, then again, isn’t that almost always the case. Thankfully, it’s not up to me! But I digress.
It’s true. I worry often about how people perceive me. How they have perceived me, how they do perceive me, and how they will perceive me. This has led me to carry a weight around with me often and to live a consistently pressure-filled life. Thank God that He has given me opportunities over the last three years to address the root causes of these worries and misconceptions.
Now, all worry and brokenness of spirit originates from sin but I have come to understand that this brokenness looks different to each of us. Mine is associated with an upbringing that involved my family being broken. My parents divorced when I was very young and then when I was thirteen my father passed away. These experiences were devastating and left me feeling and really believing that I was worthless, inconsequential, alone, in danger, insecure, unsure and unsafe.
As I grew up and was able to make decisions for myself, I began doing what I had to do in order to fill the void. I inherited or even invented my own personal survival responses. Isolation, distraction, avoidance, addiction and attraction became words that defined my existence. Fast forward to the spring of 2019 and I was in the heat of a cycle that found me using heroin every day. Praise God that He brought me to the Colony of Mercy on April 2nd of 2019 and within a few weeks I was experiencing a life of sobriety. The sickness of withdrawal had worn off and I felt “normal” without the use of drugs for the first time in over five years. That’s when the true test began.
The word “true” is key here. By using heroin, I was avoiding any chance of a real-life experience. I was avoiding reality. This type of behavior is far from being specific to drugs and alcohol. The opportunities to distract from reality are endless. TV, sports, food, relationships, our appearance, books, cars, clothes, politics, church, religion…you name it and we will use it. Used for our own purposes, these things will plant seeds of worry…and, when watered, those seeds will grow. For me, the seeds of worry relative to the approval of people were planted over three decades ago.
So, what do we do? What do I do when I am entrenched in worry over what people will say, what they will think? How do I find truth? I run to God, the God of Truth, and ask Him what He thinks of me. What do you say, Father? What does Your Word say? Thank God He has given us His Word as the solution to all of life’s questions. Thank God for the gospel. Thank God for God!
Philippians chapter 4 starting at verse 4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Can we all just take a moment and thank Paul for writing this right now!? These words are life changing. There’s a number of definitive words in this passage: always, everyone, anything, everything, all. My biggest takeaway, which is why it’s bolded, is the sentence at the end of verse five. “The Lord is near.” This is the cornerstone of scripture. This is the truth that will set you free. This is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Lord is near.
Jesus’ death on the cross made a way that God could and would be close at all times. This is reason to rejoice always! This is reason to let my graciousness be known to everyone! This is reason to pray and petition and to make our requests known to God with thanksgiving. It’s definitely a catalyst of peace and certainly peace that goes beyond understanding, peace that transcends circumstances and feelings. And lastly, it is reason to not worry. Thank You, Lord, that Your presence is enough.
Soooo…not that I’m worried about it or anything but…what did you guys think? : ) ..Kidding! Thanks for reading!!!
Written by James Serpico: James is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and the Director of Programming Ministries at America’s Keswick. He is a son, a brother and an uncle but, above all, James is a child of the Most High God. He is prayerful that his life will speak of the adoption and eternal inheritance that is found in Christ Jesus.