The Fear-filled What-ifs

Sometimes when I’m facing really Big Things in life, the fear-filled what-ifs slowly creep into my thoughts. Ok, sometimes they loudly, forcefully bombard my thoughts, and there’s nothing slow or creeping about it. Does this happen to you?

I’ll be going about my day, minding my own business when a scary possible outcome to a current situation pops into my head. Or I’ll be foolishly Googling the heck out of whatever the situation is and generously entertain every single frightening potential result or conclusion. Even though I know better. But that dang Google just lures me in, what with the endless information and how one click can lead to another and another and another into infinity.

Sometimes I catch these fearful thoughts right away. Other times, though, the weight of worry settles on me. Anxiety throbs in my neck and catches in my throat. Uneasiness rises up within me, stirring my soul into a frenzy.

And then something happens. I remember a scripture verse or hear a song on my playlist or I read the words in my daily devotion. And God’s own Spirit whispers to me reminding me that what-ifs are not truth. A friend recently reminded me – fear of the unknown is imaginary; the things we fear are almost never true. Sometimes God uses friends to remind us of truth.

When the imaginary what-ifs, the fearful possibilities, start to overtake me, I have to breathe. In and out. In and out. And remember what is true.

The conversation in my over-thinking head, in my frenzied heart goes something like this:  Those fears aren’t real. Here is what I know to be true. These are the facts right now. And then I list out the facts as I know them, not as they may end up being. Just like Joe Friday on Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am,” I say to myself. Because evidently, I call myself ma’am when I’m in an anxious tizzy. And then, after I remind myself what are facts and what are imaginations, I remind myself what else I know to be true. The real facts of life, as I believe, as I know in my very soul to be Truth. God is in charge. Nothing ever catches Him by surprise. And He loves me. He loves me even more than I love myself. He cannot be anything but good, and His plans are always, always, always for my good and His glory. 

Sometimes, when the Big Things in life are very, very BIG, this conversation stays on a continual loop in my thoughts. Frightening worry pops up; I entertain it for a while (a couple seconds or a few minutes or tens of minutes or tens of hours); Truth is whispered into my soul; I recite the things I know to be true; peace washes over me. Over and over and over this cycle rolls in my spirit. Sometimes the peace lasts for days or weeks; sometimes the peace lasts for minutes before those pesky, lying what-ifs return. And that’s OK. I won’t beat myself up for this. Because eventually, the truth rolls around and pushes out the worry. Because God never leaves me alone. He relentlessly pursues me with truth and peace and love. And His truth and peace and love always, always, always trump the lies of fear.

If you’re feeling worried today, if the what-ifs are creeping into your mind, if restless anxiety is rising up in your soul – first, stop and breathe. In and out. In and out. And then recite what you know to be true. Go all Dragnet on yourself too – just the facts, ma’am or sir. Listen for the whispers of Truth and choose to fix your mind on what is true. Allow truth and peace and love to overcome your fears. And when the fears return, do it again. And again. And again.


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