Lent starts in just a couple of days! It sneaks up on me every year, but this year I’m ready.
I’ve put time, thought, and prayer into what I’m going to give up this year.
After going through a million different options, I’ve finally decided what to do.
This year, I’m giving worry up for Lent.
This is why and here’s my action plan for how I’m going to defeat the stronghold of worry in my life.
Why Am I Giving Something Up For Lent?
No, I am not Catholic (this is one of the first questions I’m always asked when I talk about Lent!), but I think it has been a really helpful practice for me over the years in my relationship with God.
I went to a Methodist church growing up and Lent was something we always just did. Back then, it was about the rules for me.
It was legalistic in every aspect.
There was no spiritual growth happening on my end. When I gave up desserts for those 40 days (well, technically 46 days), it was hard. It took self-discipline.
Inwardly, I moaned and groaned about missing out on delicious celebrations…and that was it for me.
That was where the experience ended. I didn’t really grow or mature or have a more intimate relationship with Christ.
I made the decision to live for Jesus when I was 15 and since then, I have been steadily growing in my relationship with God. And that’s what Lent is about for me now – relationship.
It’s about making a sacrifice for the One I love most, remembering Him every time I forgo that precious thing I decide to give up.
Why Am I Giving Up Worry?
I tend to choose tangible things to give up during Lent, usually something food related. I’ve given up chocolate, desserts, and other things along those lines.
But this year, when I was trying to decide what to give up for Lent, I asked myself this one important question,
“What is the biggest thing holding me back from a deeper relationship with God?
And the answer for me is worry.
I unconsciously try to take the weight of the world on my shoulders every morning.
I really like feeling like I’m in control of things (which is dangerous, because I’m definitely NOT in control).
When I can take action steps to change things and check things off of a to-do list, I’m good!
When things are out of my control, I’m not so good.
- I worry about finances and the future.
- Because I am a people-pleaser, I am constantly worried that I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings or they are upset with me for some reason.
- I worry I blog too much and also not enough.
- I worry I work too much and also not enough.
- I worry about being a good friend, daughter, sister, and fiance (now wife!).
- I worry about what will happen in 6 months, a year, and a decade from now.
- I worry I’m hearing God’s voice wrong.
Last month, I let worry attack my wedding planning.
Will Adam like this dress? Will the wedding party be upset if we ask for their help in setting up? How can I make the decision that will make everybody happy?
It’s ridiculous. And I don’t want to do it anymore.
One of the biggest gifts God has given me is my joy. On my good days, I am bouncy and excited and can’t keep a smile off my face.
But worry steals joy.
And when I get sucked into that stressful world of hypothetical what-ifs that are completely out of my control, I am not trusting God.
I’m telling Him I don’t believe He is in control, that I don’t believe that He is working this all out for my good, that my way or my timing would be better than His (I cringe even writing that!).
That’s why I am determined to give up worry for the 46 days of Lent (and hopefully far, far beyond!).
How to Stop Worrying
This is where things get trickier.
It’s easy to come up with an action plan for giving up desserts – you just don’t eat them.
For something abstract like worrying, I had to get a little bit creative, but here is what I’ve come up with so far.
#1 – Memory Verse
I am going to memorize Philippians 4:6-7.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I believe in the power of Scripture.
I have seen it change hearts and lives and I believe I can retrain my brain to shift from automatically defaulting to worry to choosing to believe God’s truth in every situation.
And I believe Scripture will help me defeat the stronghold of worry, as well.
Every time I catch myself getting tempted to worry, I am going to say Philippians 4:6-7, gradually cementing its truths into my thoughts and making trust my default response.
#2 – Prayer
I am going to commit to pray about my struggle with worry every day for 46 days.
I journal prayers almost every morning in my quiet time with the Lord and I also pray my way through notecards I’ve made with the requests I have for the core people in my life.
Worry is going to get its own notecard and I will pray over it every morning, and hopefully even more throughout the day.
Not just praying about worry as a whole, but getting really specific about asking God to help me trust him in every decision of my life – big, small, and everything in between.
#3 – My Support System
Worry can sneak in without me even recognizing it and I know I can’t do this alone, so I’m going to ask people to hold me accountable to this.
- I’m going to tell all of the people closest to me about my goal and ask them to point out when they see signs of worry in my life.
- I’m going to ask my prayer partner to ask me how I’m doing with worry in our daily emails so that I can always be on guard against it and catch it in its earliest stages.
- I’m going to ask for their encouragement. When worry DOES creep in, I need people to ground me, reminding me how big God is, how much worrying is just a waste of time and energy, and reminding me to stay present in the moment (not worrying about tomorrow). I need my people to help get me unstuck and moving forward, recognizing the things I can change and surrendering the things I can’t.