Friday, March 26, 2010

Calm My Anxious Heart

I remember thinking when this book came out (more than a decade ago!) that it would be a good one for me to read. But for whatever reason, it never made it to the top of my list. Thus, I was thrilled when my small group chose it for our most recent study.

As someone who has a tendency towards worry and anxiety, this book was full of helpful insights for me. Author Linda Dillow offers wonderful challenges and encouragement both from Scripture and from her own journey.

I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes from the book, so they'd be recorded in one place, and I hope you'll be blessed as well!

In talking about contentment, Dillow writes:

"Most of us can categorize our lives in both positive and negative ways. You could write a glowing list of the positives in your life, and you could then write a list of sobering negatives. Both lists are true, but the focus of each list is different . . . Which list do you spend the majority of your time dwelling on?"

"Our part in the process of learning to be content is a heart choice--a choice to pray rather than to be anxious."

"You will never really enjoy other people, you will never have stable emotions, you will never lead a life of godly contentment, you will never conquer jealousy and love others as you should until you thank God for making you the way He did." --quoting an article by Rev. James Hufstetler entitled "On Knowing Oneself"

"Too often in our lives, accomplishment and doing overshadow growth and becoming."

"Much of our discontent and lack of peace comes from our expectations in our relationships."

The chapter called "A Faulty Focus" was eye-opening for me. Dillow writes, "We get so caught up with our kids' schedules, our car-pools, our careers, our fears, our problems that we lose sight of the bigger picture. We've forgotten who we are and that we're here for a reason. We don't stop to think about what we do; and worse, we don't even pray about it." Yikes! Dillow goes on to share the examples of four of her friends who have learned to live their lives with focus and purpose. Each friend had a unique approach in discovering her life's purpose, thereby inspiring the reader to consider her own style in pursuing such a pivotal piece of our identity. I spent some time with the study questions in the back of the book, and through some reflection, drafted a purpose statement of my own. I think doing this does help offer us some perspective when we're caught up in day-to-day details!

Some thoughts on the subject of worry:

"When we spend precious time worrying about what might happen, anxiety becomes negative baggage that weighs us down, saps our energy, and leaves us ineffective."

"Worry never changes a single thing except the worrier."

Loved this paragraph about faith: "My problem is that I like light better than darkness. But if I can see what God is doing--how He is working everything together for good--then I don't need faith. But still I want to see. I think we all have this problem. We say we want more faith, but really what we want is sight. Sight says, 'I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it,' but faith says, 'God sent it, so it must be good for me.' God asks us to walk by faith, not by sight. Faith is walking in the dark with God, holding His hand."

There are many other pieces of this book I could have shared, as this post includes just a fraction of the statements I underlined! I'll close with the Psalm 23 paraphrase that Dillow ends the book with, written by her friend, Judy Booth.

"The Lord is my peace. I shall not live in anxiety. He puts me under His wing of comfort and calms my spirit within me. He takes all my anxieties on Himself and helps me to focus on Him. Yes, though I walk through a time of grace uncertainties and fierce anxieties, I will not fret--for You are my peace. Your Word and Your presence calm me now. You hold my uncertainties in the palm of Your hand. You soothe my anxious mind--You smooth my wrinkled brow. Surely serenity and trust in You shall fill me all the days of my life. And I shall keep my mind stayed on You forever." Amen!

4 comments:

Mom said...

Wow - these are powerful insights! Definitely food for thought and reflection. I've never heard of this book --thanks for sharing! Love you, Mom

Katie said...

Thanks for sharing Carrie ~ this book sounds wonderful. Your book recommendations have never disappointed! :-)

When you mentioned the paragraph about the "Faulty Focus" chapter ~ I can tell you I've often felt convicted about getting caught up in the 'busy-ness' of our family's schedules and I think I could really benefit from taking some time to reflect on my priorities.

I, too, have a tendency to worry about things (isn't that inherited through motherhood??), and Phil 4:6-7 has been a set of verses I keep dear to my heart these days.

Looking forward to checking out this book ~ thanks for the review.

Cora said...

Loved the book too! Thanks for recommending it. Now if I can just put into practice what I learned...:)

Bevy said...

This post reminded me of a Christian children's book I just read to my son this morning, titled "Bruce Moose and the What-If's". I think by H. Norman Wright.

Talking about worry...