When change is slow, baby step it

I’ve known it for awhile—I worry too much. My imagination is deep and wide on things that can go wrong.

I’ve studied about it; I’ve prayed through it; I’ve actively worked to get rid of it.

Yet here I sit.

It’s Friday night and I’m finally headed home after almost two weeks in Ohio. I’m scheduled to fly from Cleveland to Dallas, wait an hour and a half, then fly to Huntsville.

Except that our plans rarely go as expected (as seen around the web lately):

your-plan_Gods-plan

So when my first flight slips ten minutes, then thirty, then an hour, I begin worrying that I won’t reach my new gate in Dallas quick enough to catch my connecting flight, that there will be no more flights out of Dallas on Friday (if I ever get there anyway!), and that I’ll have to spend yet another night in a strange bed, this time without even my toothbrush or a change of clothes.

fretting-tweet

But then something happens.

The Spirit nudges me through a text from Jenna—yes, the Spirit can work even through iPhone’s autocorrect and definitely through our children!—and triggers a new thought in me:

god-text

Maybe all this is God. I’m not saying he’s making my first plane late (but I’m not saying he’s isn’t, either).

Maybe there’s space for contentment and less worries even in this situation?

I begin to feel the gift of grace, the desire to center into his will, to trust that he is in control now and later. Tomorrow can never outrun God’s grace.

And miracle of miracles, the worrying slows down. Peace fills the void. I recognize the change.

Progress! So even though I still worried in the beginning, it didn’t last as long. A baby step for sure, but as long as the gap between worry and acceptance is shrinking, it’s a win.

In the end, I did make my flight. I woke up in my own bed Saturday morning. It was a gift.

But also a gift was realizing that maybe I am worrying less these days, that even if my transformation is far from complete, it’s still alive and active.

And even if baby steps are all I take, I’ll praise God for them. All steps in the right direction, however small, are worth celebrating.

baby-steps-lisanotes

* * *

Are you a worrier, too? What helps you? Please share.

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37 thoughts on “When change is slow, baby step it

  1. blankHolly Barrett

    This –> “Tomorrow can never outrun God’s grace.” Whew! So true, Lisa. How less frustrated would I be if I stopped to recognize God’s grace in the wait, in the “missed” connections, in the things that I choose to be annoyed by each day. I’m always blessed when I come here, Lisa. Thanks!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      “God’s grace in the wait” – beautifully put. Thanks for blessing me with that phrase, Holly. His grace is always there; I just don’t always open my eyes to it.

  2. blankJoanne Viola

    “Tomorrow can never outrun God’s grace.” That sentence right there needs an exclamation point 🙂 So grateful there is grace for each day. So glad I stopped here today. Thank you, Lisa.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you stopped by too because it led me to your post. Still thinking about this: “In a snap, the mundane had suddenly become sacred” and reflecting on which moments of my own today turned from mundane to sacred.

  3. blankMary

    I love this post!!!! After all the flights I have been on the last few years I know about missing connections. I even spent the night in the Denver airport once! I always carry a toothbrush & toothpaste in my carry-on bag. Oh, and a hairbrush…that way I can brush my teeth and hair, even if I am stuck.

    All that said…sometimes I think it IS GOD, because maybe, just maybe he wants us to slow down and look around. To see what is happening around me and be grateful or be amazed or be any number of things…because there is usually a lesson to be learned.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      You’re smarter than me, Mary. I was wishing I’d at least have packed one of those disposable toothbrush thingies but I hadn’t. 😉

      I so agree with you: I do think God will use whatever will grab our attention to refocus us on him. I want to see it sooner for what it is and ACCEPT it sooner too.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Thank you, Theresa. Much of my life has been a series of baby steps. But that’s better than stagnation or going backwards, right? 🙂 Yes, grace, so so thankful for God’s grace!

  4. blankLinda@Creekside

    Ah, yes. Worry is in the gene pool. Truly! I recognize that now and try to be a bit pro-active in heading it off. Talking to God. Taking care of whatever business I can take care of here on earth. And trying by His grace to walk straight through it to the other side.

    The key word there is grace, yes?

    Thanks for putting the W word on the table, Lisa. Looks like there’s alot of us in this boat …

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      “Being proactive in heading it off” – that’s good, Linda. It’s always helpful for me to hear how other people deal with worry; I still have a lot to learn, but by the grace of God, I’m getting there slowly but surely.

  5. blankfloyd

    You’re not alone in being anxious about things, worrying, fear. We’re called to focus and revere on our Father, not the things of this world that sits in the palm of His hand… right next to us.. and are subject to HIs will. I have to remind myself constantly. It’s part of how He made us. We have a purpose, that’s for sure!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      You make a good point, Floyd, that the Lord just didn’t tell us to not worry and leave us there: he provides us with a glorious alternative of looking to him and dwelling on him and worshiping him. I want his bigness to consume my mind instead of my own smallness.

  6. blankDebbie

    Worrying less is one thing the Lord has definitely worked in me here in South Africa as a missionary. I just have this calm trust that He will work everything out. I am thankful for it because I used to be a big worrier.

  7. blankLisha Epperson

    I get this struggle with worry..over the little and big things. I travelled to Oregon a few months ago and had a similar experience. Our mental musings identical. Yes to releasing it all to Him..and for every step you take. Loved this today Lisa!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I guess it’s good to know I’m not alone in this struggle, but sorry at the same time because I don’t want anyone else to have to struggle with it too. (Side note: I made the phone call from my “holy unrest” state: turns out my friend needed a favor that I could provide so all is well.)

  8. blankKatie

    Dearest Lisa,
    You are so NOT alone in worrying. I know my anxiety gets me paralyzed at times. Sometimes it is just a simple decision to be made. Other times it is more my PTSD and flashbacks. Other times it is over a sick family member. You name it I have worried over it. I am finding through my recent set of flashbacks that they happen more, when I am stressed extra. I am learning (slowly baby steps here, with new counselor) to do different deep breathing exercises, pray through them, calm myself, and talk through them, instead of letting them paralyze me. I did not realize that simple everyday stress when I have too much of it could trigger the PTSD. Cheering you on as you continue!!!!! Your post has had me realize that baby steps are important because I feel like I am doing baby steps learning all over again. Thank you friend!!!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      “You name it I have worried over it.” I can join you in that, Katie. 🙁 I wish it weren’t so for either of us, but I know everybody has something (well, usually many things) that we have to deal with. Sounds like you’ve already taken many steps in the right direction in dealing with yours! I’m glad we can cheer each other on in making progress on our journeys and that the Lord always walks with us too!

  9. blankKrista

    Baby steps is my middle name! 🙂

    I tend to worry about the things I cannot control (which are a lot of things unfortunately). I’m working on it though. I do a lot of deep breaths and when the “what if’s” creep in I try and combat them with “and what if you’re wrong?” 🙂
    when you were describing how you were afraid you might miss your flight, I was completely in your shoes feeling how you must’ve felt. I tend to do this when I’m driving somewhere I’ve not been before and trying to get there on time (or ten minutes early) and I keep looking at the clock and the GPS doing that shallow breathing without realizing it. ugh!
    and HEY, You were in my home state of Ohio! How about that! 😉

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Oh, that’s good to ask, “and what if you’re wrong?” I’ll have to remember that one. GPS can cause me anxiety too–especially when it starts telling me to go a way that seems intuitively wrong to me. Then what are we supposed to do??? Sigh. The Lord hasn’t given up on us so we keep rolling along. Praying for both of us in our journey to let go of worrying and control. 🙂

      Ohio was kind to us except for the cold temps and snow and bare trees. ha. The people were all very kind, which in the end is what counts. I’ll have to send you some green leaves and 80s weather. 🙂

  10. blankBarbara H.

    I get so tense traveling. We’ve been through the missed flights and being put up in a hotel over them before, so I know if it comes to that, God will work it all out. I’d just rather get home asap. 🙂 Sometimes it is harder to trust that these things are His will (so much easier to blame human error, etc.) than it is the “bigger” trials.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I agree–sometimes these smaller trials seem harder; maybe because I don’t automatically go to God first with them like I do bigger trials? Something for me to think about…. Thanks, Barbara.

  11. blankTrudy

    You are not alone in this, Lisa. I’ve struggled my whole life as a professional worrywart. Like you, I’m trying to trust God is in control all the time, but it’s not easy. “All steps in the right direction, however small, are worth celebrating.” Thank you for encouraging me today. I love all the pics!

    1. blankTrudy

      Sorry, I forgot to change my website link on the last one, and I don’t know how to delete it…

      You are not alone in this, Lisa. I’ve struggled my whole life as a professional worrywart. Like you, I’m trying to trust God is in control all the time, but it’s not easy. “All steps in the right direction, however small, are worth celebrating.” Thank you for encouraging me today. I love all the pics!

      1. blankLisaNotes Post author

        (Glad you went back and added your link. Love the birds.)

        Too bad we can’t get paid for all our hours spent worrying. 😉 Well, I guess we have been paid–just in negative currency. Thankful that the Lord can redeem it all, though. At least we don’t take it for granted when we do finally trust! {smile}

  12. blankDawn Paoletta (@breathoffaith)

    Hahaha! I love those kinds of autocorrects. And that image at the top…that is ahilarious. Yes, our plans and perceptions are so limited and He is so much more imaginative (ahem) than we…in the lengths He will go to mold our little (stubborn – mine) hearts, yes? lol. Oh, Lisa you make me smile and say YES, to His grace all the more.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Sometimes I wish I kept track of all the funny autocorrects I’ve had. 🙂 Yes, I’m thankful God is much more imaginative than we are too! Yes to grace indeed.

  13. blankKristin

    You are so speaking my language – worry/anxiety/fear! yep, that’s me (unfortunately). However, I am working on releasing it to God through my God Jar and prayer and writing… Just like you said, “Progress! So even though I still worried in the beginning, it didn’t last as long. A baby step for sure, but as long as the gap between worry and acceptance is shrinking, it’s a win.”
    Progress, not perfection…. the journey is the gift.

      1. blankKristin Waters

        Hi Lisa,
        the God Jar or Box (whatever you like) is a tool I use to physically turn over my worries/anxieties/resentments and dreams/hopes. I write ’em down on paper, fold ’em up and place ’em in the jar, trusting that God will read them and guide me.
        Kristin

  14. blankPatty

    Lisa,
    I haven’t struggled with tangible, immediate worries as much as I have allowed fear to drive my parenting in the past. It was so subtle that I didn’t realize it was fear – fear that my boys wouldn’t follow Jesus, that they would leave home and never speak to me again, that they would make poor choices (the irrevocable kind). But, somehow, as you have sensed too, God has been chipping away and through prayer and work with my dear mentor and prayer partner, I have let go of so many of those fears. I think we have been programmed to expect immediate answers and quick fixes (cliche, but true) and we have lost sight of the reality of 40 years in a desert and other realistic time frames for significant inner change. We want the instant makeover and God is about the eternal transformation. I so love your blog and am always glad when I come over and read.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      As I wrote on your blog, your mentor must be amazing. How wonderful that you’ve had her to help you uncover the truth buried beneath the lies we tell ourselves. I’m so encouraged when I hear stories of progress like yours over fear. You’re right that we get in too big of a hurry; I do feel better about my journey when I look at the big picture transformation instead of day-to-day changes. Thank you for blessing me with your words.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I’m trying to picture how much cuter that would sound with a British accent than an American one. 😉 So thankful God is patient with our questions. I’ve actually been asking God that question this week regarding tornadoes that hit our area again….

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