Remember the torture right before Christmas or a birthday of looking at all the packages and having to wait??? Not public knowledge until now, but one year I couldn’t stand not knowing what was in one of the boxes, so when no one was around I opened it (and rewrapped it). Ironically it wasn’t the guilt that bothered me most but rather stressing about how I could successfully convince them all of my surprise and delight when I opened it!
Life is a continuous series of unknown circumstances – packages – that loom in front of us, resulting in ongoing battles with anxiety. We are driven to figure it all out in advance, enslaved to the delusion that once we solve this particular challenge, we’ll be done. (And will have executed it flawlessly, of course!) Sound familiar? 😉 The perplexing problem packages cannot wait…they MUST be opened now! And my mind must work on it 24/7 until I feel more in control.
When we tear open the package before its intended time, not only do we lose out on the beauty of living in the present moment, but we also forfeit the joy of anticipation,
as well as the strength and faith that grow from waiting and trusting.
God never intended us to be in bondage to hurry or worry, neither of which are good for us. What if we were to change our mindset and visualize the object of our anxiety not as an enemy to conquer, but as a gift? A gift from God to be opened in His timing…and no sooner. The image of packages helps minimize the negative scenarios we so readily contrive, which ironically rarely come to pass.
So how do we change our mindset? What helps me most is filling my mind with a scriptural game plan. This passage that says it all is an excerpt from Paul’s letter written from a very unpleasant prison cell.
The Lord is near (the whole reason we don’t have to be anxious!). Do not be anxious about anything (not even just a few things?), but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving (seems counter-intuitive, but in spite of the challenges there is plenty we can be grateful for), present your requests to God (take the time and talk honestly with Him). And the peace of God (which we so desperately need!), which transcends all understanding (it won’t be logical to have peace in the middle of unresolved issues so don’t try to figure God out), will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (sounds soothingly safe to me). (Phil. 4:5-7 NIV)
So when I find my mind trapped in the vicious cycle of nonstop problem solving, I need to say, “This can wait. SAVE THE PACKAGE.” And then pray, “Lord, please give me what I need when I need it, and show me what to do and when to do it.” Then I’ll wiggle my toes (for grounding), breathe, smile, and give thanks for the many blessings I have RIGHT NOW!
Welby O’Brien holds a teaching degree from Biola University and a Master’s Degree in counseling from Portland State University. She is the author of Good-bye for Now, and Formerly A Wife, and LOVE OUR VETS: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD (www.LoveOurVets.org). She is also a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America, as well as Shepherding Women in Pain. www.welbyo.com