We start our series of classes by talking about the lie of control. We start there because control is often the onset of an eating disorder. Something in our lives feels out of control and we don't like it. We turn to an eating disorder as something that we can control in order to cope with perceived chaos.
Worry is the next step in the progression of the eating disorder. When we worry, our thoughts turn into action. Worrying triggers us to binge, purge, restrict, or exercise.
What causes you to worry? What are the triggers that move you from thought to action?
- Some examples from our group include finances, jobs, relationships, busy schedules, stillness, feeling out of control, feelings of inadequacy/failure, fear of the unknown, and health.
What purpose does worry serve in your life? Why do you do it?
Worrying has become an accepted habit in our society. It seems that most people are frequently worrying about some aspect of their lives. Our lives have become incredibly busy and stressful. Worry has become a normal response to this fast paced lifestyle.
Is worrying a normal thing to do? Is it simply part of our culture and our existence as human beings? NO!
God tells us that worrying is NOT a normal state of mind for a believer. In Scripture, God is very straight forward with His instructions not to worry.
BIBLICAL REASONS TO STOP WORRYING
1. Worrying accomplishes nothing
I don't know about you, but I don't have time to waste these days. Worrying is a waste of very precious time. Worrying won't help you solve a problem or bring about a solution, so why waste your time and energy on it?
Can all of your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. Matthew 6:26-29
- Have you ever considered how much of your life you have wasted on worry? Has it been days, weeks, or even years?
- What has the eating disorder taken away from you; what things have you missed out on because you were busy worrying?
- Consider having that time back to invest in a relationship with God. What would your relationship with God be like? How would it be different?
2. Worrying is not good for you
Worrying is destructive to us in many ways. It becomes a mental burden that can even cause us to grow physically sick.
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. Proverbs 12:25
3. Worrying is the opposite of trusting God
The energy we spend worrying can be put to much better use in prayer. Here's a little formula to remember: Worry replaced by prayer equals trust.
Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell Good what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
- This verse tells us to replace worry with 2 things; prayer and thankfulness. When we replace worry with prayer and thankfulness, THEN we will experience the peace of God. We cannot create peace on our own. Peace comes as a result of trusting in God. As we trust in Him with our worry, then He will produce the fruit of peace in us (Galatians 5:22).
4. Worrying puts your focus in the wrong direction
When we keep our eyes focused on God, we remember His love for us and we realize that we truly have nothing to worry about. God has a wonderful plan for our lives, and part of that plan includes taking care of us. Even in the difficult times, when it seems like God doesn't care, we can put our trust in the Lord and focus on His kingdom. God will take care of our every need.
That is why I tell you not to worry about every day life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25
So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' these things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:31-33
A stronghold is a bad pattern of thought that is burned into our minds. These thoughts come from our experiences, worldly influences, and temptations that we fall into over and over again.
Along with many other things, worry can be a stronghold in our lives.
You can know that you have a stronghold in your life if you have compulsions, obsessions, fears, lusts, jealousies, violent tempers, uncontrolled appetites of any kind. These are all signs that a stronghold is either being built or is firmly established in your life.
If thinking about doing something, or not doing something, causes anxiety for you – it has become a stronghold. You may recognize a stronghold when that thing (your stronghold) is about to destroy a treasured part of your life. When you try to control your area of stronghold, you can't seem to get a hold of it, no matter how hard you try.
Satan tells us that we can never be free from our strongholds. That is a LIE! Satan only speaks lies to us. "There is NO truth in him. When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)
Strongholds don't have to control us. God's word says that we can pull down our strongholds and be free from them. We can destroy the strongholds in our minds through 4 action steps…
1. REPENT (releasing the lies in your mind)
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
2. RENOUNCE (embracing God's truth)
Therefore prepare your mind for action. Be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:13
3. RENEW (responding to God with trust)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
4. RESIST (resetting your mind on God)
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, pu tit into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8
CHANGE IS HARD
Tearing down a stronghold is hard work. Most of us will need to tear down the same stronghold over and over again. Inevitably, the same issues that once became strongholds in our minds, will come back at different points of our life. We will feel tempted to turn to the same habits of worry, fear, control because they became comfortable, known coping mechanisms.
Consider a sand hill and a marble. Imagine releasing a marble down this sandhill. There is no path for the marble to follow, but the marble finds a way. Every time you put the marble back on top of the sandhill, it will follow that same path. As the marble goes down that same path, the groove gets deeper and more known to the marble.
We are just like that marble going down a sandhill. It can be so hard to make new paths in our minds. We will inevitably want to follow the path that we know. Even if the path is harmful, we will often choose that destructive path because it is known to us.
Just as the marble made it's first groove in the sand, we can make a new pathway in our minds. As we continually set our marble down this new path, the groove will get deeper and more known to us.
We can make new pathways in our minds that lead to right thinking.
In order to set ourselves down a new path and stay free from strongholds, we must DAILY think about things that honor God. We must take every thought to God to determine if we are living in right thinking. Then, we can be free from the lies in our minds.
What thoughts are in your mind? Do you think about what you are thinking about?
If we are not thinking about what we are thinking about, our minds become filled with whatever happens to fall in there. At times,our minds are filled with nonsense things that have no ill effects, but simply waste our time. Yet, other times, Satan puts his thoughts into our minds.
Satan loves to make us worry. He knows that worrying moves us from thought to action. When we are consumed with worry, we are triggered to binge, purge, or restrict. Taking this action moves us one step farther away from the rest of God. Satan is well aware of this reality and it is his desire to move as far away from God as possible.
We have the opportunity to set our thoughts down a different path. In order to change our thoughts, we have to begin thinking about what we are thinking about. Not sure what you should be thinking about? God tell us in Scripture what we are to be thinking about. In Philippians 4:8 we are instructed to think about these things; whatever is true, whatever is noble, with is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy.
Does that verse seem confusing to you? Even with this instruction of what to think about, it can be hard to know if our thoughts are right.
In the book, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick, she outlines the meaning of each word along with questions to ask yourself. If you are struggling to determine whether your thoughts are right, you can judge it against the questions in this chart.
Download the chart here: Think on These Things Chart
Even as we tear down worry as a stronghold in our minds, it will attempt to creep back in. Before it does so, we need to establish practical steps that will help us prevent those thoughts from turning into action.
One coping mechanism that you can use when you feel worry setting in, is a coping bank. A coping bank can be an empty bottle, shoebox, or tupperware container. In this container, place coping alternatives to use when you feel yourself struggling.
Here is a list of contents from some of our participant coping banks…
- journal and pen
- stress reliever ball
- cards to write friends
- coloring book and crayons
- playing cards
- pictures of friends and family
Include slips of paper with ideas of things to do, such as…
- take a walk
- take a bath
- play a sport
- call a friend
- read Scripture
- watch a movie
PRACTICAL STEPS TO RELEASE WORRY
Read the Challenge to Change for the topic of Releasing Worry. There you will find a practical activity that will encourage you to act on the truths we are learning.