Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
I have been journaling for many years and giving thanks and praise for the gifts I have been given has always been intertwined with the rest of my writing, but with a noticeable increase over the past decade. Why? About ten years ago I went through a period of time when I was struggling with anxiety issues. It was during that time that I read a few verses Paul of Tarsus (A.D. 10-67) wrote to the early church in Philippi that made a profound impact on my psyche and literally changed my life.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
It was when I read this that I realized that it looked remarkably like a recipe for rescue, a divine guideline… a lifeline; a light in the darkness, and a way out of the worry and anxiety.
The points were clear:
- Rejoice- always be full of joy in the Lord
Now that seemed almost ridiculous when the very thing I was struggling with was sadness, anxiety and depression. Then I recalled a favorite verse from the book of Psalms.
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
So really what was being said was spend time with God. In other words go to my happy place. And where might that be? In God’s presence. And how exactly does one get there?
Psalm 100:4 suggests We enter His presence through the gates of thanksgiving, prayer and praise. Which made perfect sense when connected with the next verse telling me:
Don’t worry (about anything, ever)
Instead, pray (about everything, always)
Tell God what you need
Thank God for all he has done
Then the best part- a promise, “If you do this, you will“
A. Experience God’s peace (which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand).
B. That peace will guard your heart & mind (in other words- it helps keep out the crazy).
Then it went on to list many other lovely thoughts to ponder instead of the anxious thoughts that had been plaguing me with all the worry and negativity.
Think about what is:
So I began to halt each anxious thought, slowly and methodically, consciously and purposefully and exchange them for prayers, telling God what I needed. Sometimes that was simply “God, I need to not feel anxious. I need to experience Your peace.”
Then I would immediately follow my short prayer with a lengthier time of thanksgiving and praise for “all He has done.” I did this out loud, making my mouth speak the words so my ears could hear and my mind could agree with their truth. Sometimes I did this while performing daily tasks that reminded me of the gifts themselves, like sorting laundry or cleaning my home and caring for my family, and always through journaling at the end of the day, giving thanks for whatever gifts and goodness filled my life.
When I took the time to record the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy I noticed that this attitude of gratitude felt a lot like happiness.
This has led to a complete and total transformation in my life from a mind once troubled with anxiety, worry and fear to a whole life that is characterized by peace, joy and freedom.
So, you know, whatever.© Una-Melina // Worthy Books & Things, 2012.