By Hannah Brzozowski
Fear is something that has plagued me for years. It’s an ongoing thought in my mind… what if….(fill in the blank here)? I often think of it as I’m about to make some type of change. For example, I typically order the same thing at restaurants. I find something I like and stick with it. I don’t take many chances. But when I do, the thought of “what if I don’t like this?” immediately pops into my mind.
Another example of fear in my life is wearing white. For my entire adult life, I have not worn white. I just couldn’t get the thought of getting a stain on it out of my head. But, recently, I’ve finally decided to wear white t-shirts. And I’ll be honest with you, I think they look dang good on me. And if I get a stain, I’ve come to realize that white t-shirts cost about $7 from Target. It turns out, it’s not the end of the world.
I’ve come to realize that white t-shirts cost about $7 from Target. It turns out, it’s not the end of the world.
These examples are tiny. There are much bigger fears in my head and in yours. There are the fears of not having enough money in the future. The fears of Covid never being gone - that this is just our way of life now. There are the fears of my dog getting lost or my husband dying out of blue. On and on they go… in and out of my mind on a daily basis.
Well, today, let’s focus on the good instead of the bad. Let’s train our brains better and let's do this by using one of my favorite verses in the Bible: Philippians 4:8. It says: Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.
All of these words sound really positive but what do they actually mean (using the good ol' Webster's dictionary)?
True: being in accordance with the actual state of affairs
Noble: possessing outstanding qualities
Right: being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper
Pure: unmixed with any other matter (or in the greek, immaculate)
Lovely: delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace
Admirable: deserving the highest esteem (or in the greek, sounding well or uttering words of good omen)
Excellent: very good of its kind
Praiseworthy: laudable, commendable
The other day, I used this process when I had a little bit of a health scare (Turns out, I’m totally fine!). My mind was overcome with fear. I just kept on thinking of everything that could go wrong and I knew that I needed to get my mind in check... and quickly. I remembered this verse and I started to think through the words and how I could focus my mind on them.
The two words that helped me during that day were:
True: I thought about the actual reality, instead of the unknown. I had a doctor’s appointment set up for the next day - that’s all I knew at that point to be true. I *attempted* to not let my mind go into a full spiral of panic.
Noble: I started to Google news stories about noble people. People who have those outstanding qualities that I would like to have. There are a lot of noble stories you can find, if you take time to look for them.
Some other examples of how to focus our minds are these words are:
Praiseworthy: Is there someone in your life right now that you could send a text or gift card just praising them for a job well done. Maybe it’s an employee who has been killing it lately or a friend who just had a baby and could use some coffee. Instead of focusing on your own fear for a bit, focus on someone else’s accomplishments.
Instead of focusing on your own fear for a bit, focus on someone else’s accomplishments.
Lovely: When’s the last time you watched a nature documentary or went on a hike to take in the beauty all around you. Or maybe, it’s simply stepping outside and breathing in that nice cool breeze. The other day I took 5 minutes to go in my backyard and just breathe, thank God, and take in wonderful weather. Guess what? My day was significantly better.
Excellent: What’s the last thing you did that you know was really excellent? I know...it’s hard to give ourselves props sometimes but it’s important. Was it that painting from last weekend? Or was it that meal that was five star restaurant worthy? If you can’t think of something, ask your spouse or a friend to help you. I’m positive that they’ll be able to point something out for you.
If you can’t think of something, ask your spouse or a friend to help you. I’m sure they’ll be able to point something out for you.
Right: Have you ever watched a movie and at the end something just happened? The villain lost and the hero won. There’s something about us that craves justice. So, maybe you need to watch a good movie to focus your mind. I watched “The Great Debaters” recently and was totally inspired. To see a group of people fight through adversity and injustice and then *spoiler alert* win in the end - just felt amazing for me. I didn’t actually win anything. I wasn't a part of that hard work or even time period. But, movies (especially historical movies) have a way of inspiring us and lifting us up.
Pure: Now, this one might be the most out there. In the Greek (the language this verse was originally written in), this means immaculate. So maybe, what we can do is clean something. Make something completely stunning in your home. Maybe it’s the top of your fan that hasn’t been cleaned in 10 years or maybe your car could use a wash. Putting effort into making something pure could be just what you need to get some of that nervous energy out. At the end, you’ll have something to be proud of too.
Putting effort into making something pure could be just what you need to get some of that nervous energy out.
Admirable: I love finding inspiring quotes on Pinterest. It’s a random hobby of mine and it’s inspiring to me when I take the time to do it. Do you have a favorite author or speaker? Find some quotes from them and put it as the background of your phone, post them on your mirror, or get an app that shows you a new quote every day. Reading quotes from others helps us to think of things from another perspective and helps us grow as individuals.
So, next time you are feeling fear start to creep into your mind, think about the things mentioned above. Right before Philippians 4:8, in verses 6-7, it offers this encouragement: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God 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.
Remember to focus your mind on good things and tell God what you need. He is waiting and wanting to help you through your fears.
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