I have this problem, that maybe you can relate to. It’s one that I think many women fall prey too. Especially once we are married and have kids of our own to worry about. It’s the problem with the what-ifs in life. It’s creating all of the worst case scenarios in your head of every situation possible. We’re all guilty of this one. Maybe you can more easily not stress about these what-ifs or maybe your what-ifs paralyze you with fear. We all will process things differently. I truly believe there are some people who are wired with a more calm, peaceful disposition while there are others more tightly strung. Whether it be our genetic makeup or how we were raised, we all deal with the stresses of life differently while we all are guilty of creating these what-if stories. Have you become trapped by your what-if stories?
Linda Dillow defines the what-if disease as looking to the future and worries about what God might allow, which leads to anxiety over the future (p.157).
What-ifs are exactly what you are thinking up in your head while you are sitting in that rocking chair of worry. It’s getting you nowhere, except more worked up.
I love this quote from our book,
Waiting for an inevitable disaster is worse than the disaster itself. p. 158
How true is that? Most of the stories in our head don’t even happen. Yet we’ve wasted precious time worrying about them. In most cases, we have thought up the most extreme outcome that is the least likely to occur. Therefore, most of the time we are worrying about nothing. We’ve panicked, lost sleep, and stopped trusting God instead of feeling peace.
I don’t know about you, but my brain likes to jump to the worst case scenario instantly. There isn’t even a scale of bad to worse outcomes, I’m instantly camped out in the worst case possibilities.
For example, last week my husband had a meeting with an employee after our pharmacy closed at 10pm. He warned me he would be late but that the meeting should only be 15 minutes tops. So that was where my expectations were. I dozed off to sleep and when I woke up it was 11:35. I looked over and my husband was still not home. (The fact that I fell asleep without him is a miracle in itself and a victory to be celebrated!)I instantly thought “what if this employee didn’t like what my husband had to say and went postal on him and he’s bleeding to death on the pharmacy floor and here I am SLEEPING!” Yep, I went there. So as my panic is rising, I’m texting my husband and getting no response. “Okay maybe he’s been killed in a car accident on the side of the road somewhere,” I think.
By now I’m wide awake and am in full panic, worry what-if mode. Then I finally get a response about 5 minutes later, “Just pulled in, lots of drama. Be up in a minute.” Phew, at least he’s alive and safely at home. My blood pressure can come down, the fight or flight response can relax as I wait for him.
Of course, neither of the what-if worst-case scenarios happened but I spent 10 minutes in a complete panic worrying about them. And ya know what, it set me up for a whole week of sleeping poorly because my body reacts so strongly to that kind of panic and worry.
You’re might be thinking, how silly I would never do that. But I bet you most of us are creating these what-if stories to some degree. When you struggle with anxiety and worry the worst case scenarios are the biggest problem to overcome. Here are some tips on how to overcome this what-if anxiety disease from our Bible study book, Calm My Anxious Heart.
How to Overcome the What-If Anxiety Disease
Trust in God and who He is.
This is the key to curing this disease. We need to remind ourselves that God is the Blessed Controller of our circumstances. Letting go of the reins and truly trusting Him to bring peace into your life.
Stopping Trusting in Your Own Strength
We can only trust in God and who He is when we aren’t focusing on ourselves and our own strengths. We can’t solve every problem, we can’t control every situation and outcome but we know who can. Let your anxieties be a springboard to put you on your knees crying out to the one who has it all under His control.
Remember: Contentment comes from a proper relationship to God, not from a response to the circumstances. Our what-ifs will either drive us to God and faith or they will drive us to worry and dependence on self. God gives peace and contentment; worry gives illness and misery. p. 161
Stop Playing Ball with God
Imagine that whatever you are worried about is a ball. In a game of catch, each partner tosses the ball back and forth. But when it comes to our anxieties we need to stop playing catch with God. We need to throw Him the ball and stop playing the game.
Let me ask you this question, what if the worst case scenario you’ve thought up does happen. What will you do then? Will you accept it? Will you trust God? If so, then stop worrying about it today! Live a life free from the bondage of the what-if disease!