When I was a kid, there was a T.V. programme called, "Why don't you?" The premise of the show was to provide children with a self remedy for their top complaint…
There were craft projects and new hobbies to try. It was basically a poor man's Blue Peter. The theme tune consisted of a group of very loud, shouty children yelling:
"Why don't you? Why don't you? (Repeat endless times)
Why don't you just switch off your T.V. set and go and do something less boring instead?"
To the child moaning about their constant boredom, the response was clear. Get off your backside and do something instead, you're choosing to be bored.
For many kids, boredom is their default setting. For me, worry has often been a default setting and so this week the word "instead" has featured highly. In part one, we looked at our worry triggers, and this week we're starting to consider whether we have a choice to do something else instead when we are tempted to worry.
I've seen lots of things on Facebook recently about how people only show the highlights of their lives. I've been guilty of that this week. I found out I have a partial scholarship to complete a theology degree, and I was so excited to share my good news on facebook. I didn't share that most of the week has been pretty rubbish.
Since my early twenties, I've been ill a lot. I'm incredibly grateful that it's never been anything life-threatening, but it's certainly affected my quality of life. It's been put down to stress, being "run down" and a whole host of other things including dietary issues and mental health issues. I've had every test, tried every diet, and done everything the health professionals have asked of me, and nothing has made a significant difference. Over time I bought into the narrative that I was making a fuss, that I was weak and on many occasions, I kept quiet when I felt at my worst to avoid the hypochondriac label. Over the summer, I finally received a diagnosis, based on a test that showed without a shadow of a doubt that all my health complaints were legitimate. The relief was overwhelming. I was warned that the month's course of medication would make me feel all the worst symptoms of my illness, but I decided I would push through anyway.
I'm now two weeks into the tablets, and it's been very unpleasant! I've also had to battle with the same old narrative. I've played down the impact of the medication as I was worried people would think it was yet another one of my many illnesses. When I feel like this, it's so easy for me to start on a downward spiral, but this week the word "instead" has come back to me repeatedly. By reflecting on my worries last week, I recognised that when it comes to feeling ill, I still need the validation of others to confirm that what I feel is legitimate. This isn't helpful for me, so why don't I do something else instead? This week I have battled to make different choices whenever the old feelings have returned. I haven't succeeded every time, but I have chosen to turn off the old programme running in my mind and decided to do something else instead!
As you look at your list of worry triggers, which one do you particularly want to focus on?
Over the next few parts of this blog, we'll explore more about what Paul suggests we should do instead of worrying. For now, recognising that a behaviour needs to stop and that we have a choice to do something instead is a big step forward.
6 Don't be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. 7 And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.
Philippians 4:6-7 (Voice)