Thursday, October 27, 2016

Killing Anxiety Before it Kills You (Part 3).

As I continue my thoughts about anxiety, I think I've discovered another way to overcome it. In addition to prayer and living life one moment at a time, I'm pondering what thankfulness can do.

The table we use at my house is an heirloom and belonged to my Great Aunt Fannie, which was given to her by her parents, so it's well over 100 years old. I only cover it on special occasions and the tablecloth makes any meal extra special. Even the most everyday piece of dish ware is made special just by adding a lace cloth underneath.

One of my most precious memories of my Mother was the way she would decorate the table when we had guests. Not only was she a fabulous cook, but she had a way of making the table and everything on it look just as splendid as the taste of her homemade and home-raised food. The tablecloth was carefully selected and ironed.

When she had to move to skilled nursing, I pulled out one of her old tablecloths and we had a picnic lunch together down the hall from her room. The squeal of delight she made as we rounded the corner to where she could see the "surprise" indoor picnic on the old tablecloth is one of my treasured memories of time spent with her.

In part 1 of my posts about anxiety I mentioned that prayer is a great way to overcome anxiety. I shared a verse that I often turn to when I'm tempted to feel anxious. I think a heart of gratitude is like a tablecloth underneath our prayers and is another great way to overcome anxiety.

"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." 
Philippians 4:6-7.

I used to kind of skip over the part that says "and thank him for all he has done". It can appear to be an afterthought, but the longer I live, the more I'm convinced that it's just as much a part of fighting worry as praying can be. 

I find that the more I cultivate gratitude, the less I need to "pray" about things. My attitude changes, my faith is increased and I start to feel stronger just by listing all the things I'm grateful for.

As I approach the big Portraits of White night, I have started keeping a gratitude journal for all the big (and little) things that I see happening. I even slip in a few things from the past two years. That way, as I begin to remind myself of all the miracles already taking place it begins to encourage me and lessen the anxiety.

Perhaps praying without any moments of thanksgiving is like setting the table for a nice dinner and then remembering that you should add the tablecloth. It's much easier to put the tablecloth down first. 

I don't think thankfulness is meant to be an "add on" to finish up our prayers. It should undergird our lives. 

I say put the tablecloth on first. Start with thanksgiving before you put out all the components of prayer.