If you’ve ever driven down the highway in the south, you’ve probably seen kudzu.
This twining plant has stems that can extend from any node to attach to and climb surfaces or anchor itself to the ground. The green, leafy vine wraps itself around electric line poles, old buildings, and can even blanket the entire side of a hill.
Kudzu was first introduced to the Southeast in 1883 at the New Orleans exposition and marketed as an ornamental plant used to shade porches. It was used to help control soil erosion. Eventually the US government began funding kudzu plantings and helped support the distribution of 85 million seedlings. Following crop failures, farmers began moving to more urban areas, leaving kudzu plantings unattended. Kudzu continued to grow freely. By 1970, kudzu was reclassified as a weed; by 1997, it was listed on the Federal Noxious Weed List.
Today, kudzu is known as “the vine that ate the South.”
Scientists have discovered that as the invasive weed spreads, it smothers other plants under its leaves. It has been known to surround tree trunks, break branches and even uproot an entire tree. The vine that appeared helpful at first has shown itself to be incredibly harmful to the ecology and land.
We may even convince ourselves that it’s in our best interest to be extra concerned.
But if left unchecked, a sprout of worry can grow until it smothers our spiritual lives and becomes increasingly noxious to others and ourselves.
Just as kudzu affects the physical landscape, worry can affect our physical bodies:
When excessive worry expresses itself in the form of anxiety, our heart rate and blood pressure soon increase.
Stress from worry can agitate the stomach and reveal itself in symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and acid reflux. That same stress may manifest itself in acne or rashes on the skin as well as muscle tenseness in the shoulders, neck, or back.
The stress created from worry can affect cortisol levels leading to weight gain. And some people respond to the stress of worry by getting headaches and chronic migraines.
- Turn to God as the source of your peace. Though worry may try to take over our mind and emotions, we can remember that God’s amazing peace is available to us now, in this moment.
God’s peace, or shalom in Hebrew, communicates more than a lack of conflict. Instead, shalom suggests that blessings and peace overflow when we are in a relationship with God.
- Follow the instructions of Philippians 4:8:
“You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Instead of focusing on negative possibilities, we can choose to focus our minds and attention on those things that are true, noble, just, pure, and lovely. And we can ask God to give us a greater measure of His peace with the full confidence that He will say “Yes!”*
So what’s your trick for overcoming worry?
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