I’ve never seen a deer with a lawn mower, however, I’ve seen deer trails worn by continual walking. They tell me that patterns of thought do the same thing in your brain and forge neural pathways.
Worry wears a path in your brain that gets clearer and easier to traverse over time. The more you worry, the easier it becomes for a thought to follow Worry Trail the next time it seeks a place to call home.
“Therefore, do not be anxious, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after these things and your heavenly Father knows you need them all” (Jesus, Mt. 6:31-32).
It’s no surprise that this command regarding anxiety is tethered to one of Jesus’s many teachings about money. Instead of denying our needs like many health and wealth teachers who only allow their followers to confess positive realities like, “I’m not sick,” or “I’m wealthy” while you are actually very sick or can’t pay the bills, Jesus acknowledges that we have real, legit needs. And still, amidst real needs, he says, “Do not be anxious.” To balance this out, he also says to be careful how you talk about those needs (Do not be anxious, saying…) because your words shape your thoughts.
He invites his hearers to look around at birds and lilies, and to set their minds on God’s good life in the earth – the kingdom of God.
So, three thoughts related to worrying and anxiety, and this especially applies to money:
1. Acknowledge reality: what is the situation? Say it aloud. Write it down. Get it tattooed on your forehead (Just seeing if you’re still reading. Don’t do this). Make it real. Jesus said that your heavenly Father knows these are real needs. Give your need a name and a number. Sometimes it helps just to get it out of your brain and onto a page.
2. Ask yourself, “Is there something I can do about this issue, this financial matter?” Maybe there’s not. At least you’ll know that you’re doing all you can, which is basically nothing. So, worrying won’t help things that are inevitable. Jesus asked, “And which of you, by being anxious, can add a single hour to his span of life?” In other words, some things are what they are.
3. If there is something you can do, do one thing, the next thing, whatever that is. We often get caught up in what’s potentially going to happen, and fail to do something about the one thing we can change because it seems so small. Financial momentum always starts small. Start with one, with one thing. You can’t get to two before you go through one.
You’re going to have to become curious, a little softer internally, about how things might play out. But that should not stop you from focusing on the one thing you can do. Focus on today. That’s what Jesus taught us to do. And, trust that God is with you.