Do you ever find yourself obsessing over and over about something? I’m talking about that situation or fear you try to put down and three seconds later it’s back staring you in the face like a blinking neon sign giving you a migraine. I’m guilty of that. My brain doesn’t seem to have an off switch.
All throughout scripture we’re reminded to not worry and to give our concerns to God. One of my favorite scriptures about anxiety is 1 Peter 5:7
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (NIV)
I like this verse because “cast” means “to throw.” Wouldn’t feel nice to literally throw away your anxiety and never pick it up again? That scripture makes it sound so easy, but I struggle with actually casting my anxiety on Jesus and leaving it there. I can pray, and it still invades my thoughts. A number of years ago my anxiety was at an all-time high. I’ve been journaling since I was twelve, but my journaling was becoming less about leaving my fears in a closed book before God and more about me descending into a spiral staircase of depression. I needed something different.
Enter the purple cheese ball container. (Feel free to laugh at that, I am.) First you should know purple is my favorite color; it puts me in a happy place. One day I was sitting in my counselor’s waiting room and noticed a large empty plastic container with a purple lid on the shelf. She picked it up as we headed back to the conference room for my session. As soon as I put my purple purse on the table she said “This is for you!” I sat down in one of those fun chairs that spin and was thinking “I know I like purple, but this is taking it a tad far.” I think I managed to say “thank you” without laughing. She sat across from me and told me when she saw the empty family sized cheese ball container she thought of me. (Again I was still not grasping this. Is it my cheesy personality or love of purple?) Thankfully she had a point besides the lid matching my purse, shirt, and shoes. It was another assignment. When you involve an element of wacky in anything, I’m much more interested, so for once I was listening from the beginning. The cheeseball container was a place to throw away what I was obsessing about, and put a lid on it.
This was a time in my life when I was facing some big uncertainties about my future, including a relationship, health, and finances. One of those would be enough to make me obsess, but three huge things made it easy to put one down and pick two back up. In addition to journaling I was to try to have some scrap paper handy at all times, even keeping a few small pieces in my wallet for when I wasn’t at home. Any time I started to obsess over something, I wrote down what it was using as few words as possible. Sometimes it was even just one word such as “health.” That’s it. Then, she wanted me to crumple it up into a ball as if I was throwing it away. It melted a small amount of stress as I heard the paper crumple, and I could literally crush my worry in my hand. Then, that paper went into the cheese ball container. I repeated that as soon as I’d find myself obsessing over something. In the early days I went through a large amount of scrap paper, but it was working. Slowly I was using less paper every day and able to shift my focus to better things.
After about a month that container was full. Now it was time for me to reflect. I remember sitting on my bed feeling overwhelmed when I poured out all those crumpled pieces of paper. It hit me just how much I worried. There were dozens of papers. One by one I opened each piece of paper and read it. If it was an ongoing situation I was still praying about and living through, it got crumpled back up and put in the cheese ball container. If it was something that had been resolved, I put it into a pile so I could see the mountain of unnecessary worry that had been robbing me of joy. As I thanked God for His loving care, it was time to throw out those papers forever.
By writing down my fears and tossing them into that container, it was a physical way for me to cast my anxiety on God. Gradually I found myself obsessing less and less. It took longer to fill up that container. This exercise didn’t make those big situations go away or even resolve them any faster, but my anxiety and stress decreased. About a year after I initially started tossing my cares in the cheese ball container, I saw it in the corner of my bedroom. I realized it had been a long time since I had written anything. I sat down and poured out the papers on my bed once more. I realized there weren’t nearly as many pieces of paper as the first time. I opened each of my papers one by one. This time there was only one pile. Every single thing I had spent time obsessing over had been resolved. When I let go of the obsessing, I was able to let God care for me. That’s when I found peace.
God didn’t need my worrying to help Him care for me.
Years later I can say I don’t obsess over negative things nearly as often as I used to, but if I find myself obsessing, I go back to that same exercise again, and it still works. So, if you find yourself obsessing why not give it a try? Find your own container, and toss your fears in it. I promise it’s not as cheesy of an idea as it may sound.
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