How Anxiety Distracts Us From God

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 The Noticer

Let me be a noticer of things in your world
instead of a dweller of my inner thoughts,
worries, and selfish longings
that only keep me distracted from you.

For when I uproot myself out of the present moment
and plant my focus on myself,
I rob myself of the joy
of witnessing your glory and beauty
all around me.

I have always been a highly observant person, picking out minor details that others often miss. On my morning walk in the woods today I noticed an old, wooden beam with rusted barbwire wrapped around the edges that had clearly once been a fence post. The problem was that I’d walked this path dozens of times before. Worse, it only stood a few inches off the trail.

What may seem an unimportant observation worried me. I should have noticed this a long time ago. But then again, maybe I’m not quite as observant as I once was…not since anxiety and worry have become a constant companion.

I sat there looking at that fence post, noticing for the first time the rotting wood and the crumbling decay of age. In my perifocal view I then noticed a bee hovering around a flower and insects crawling along the earth. I was struck with the realization that I have formed a habit of being so stuck inside my head observing my anxieties and worries that I have lost an awareness of the world around me.

I’ve decided I’m still a highly observant person; I’ve just been preoccupied with the wrong details. Anxiety and worry cause us to retreat inward, focusing on only our thoughts and feelings, preparing for the “what ifs” of the future. In the process they rob us of the joy and experience of life in the present moment.

God dwells in the here and now. God speaks in the present. God walks with us in this moment. When we try to place ourselves in the future, we make no room for God. For the future is determined by His will, not ours. And that is what anxiety and fear inspire us to do, don’t they? To just sprint past God and try to prepare, plan, and control what happens next. We lack faith in God’s providence, so we seek out our own providence. We are finite creatures who are not built to withstand that kind of responsibility. When we put ourselves in control of managing our future, we collapse under the weight of worry.

Even more importantly, when we are constantly distracted by our worries and removed from the here and now, we miss out on the wonderful experience of witnessing God’s glory and beauty all around us.  The beauty of a sunset, the feeling of the wind against your skin, the magic of the leaves changing colors, the love in another’s eyes, the wisdom God passes on in seemingly unimportant things.

It’s a hard fight to pull yourself out of your own head and leave all the worrying behind. It’s maybe an even harder fight to trust in God. But there are opportunities for redemption all around us, yet we have to be attentive to the present moment to recognize them. If we remain focused on the incessant cycle of self-centered thoughts, we deny ourselves the gift of seeing God’s divine presence right here, right now.

-Post and Poem Written by Justin Farley

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Trusting in God Instead of Your Understanding Poem

Be My Vision

 

Be the eyes through
which I see –
so that I may not gaze
into the past with regret
or worry about what’s before me.

In past, present, and future
let me only see you and your will.

May I not be obsessed with
the weather in my life –
so that I trust in your love
whether the sun is shinning
or I’m alone in the dark of night.

In joy, pain, and in the plain
you remain utterly in control.

Let it be your will
that I’m planning –
so that I’m not tossed
off-course by human vision
and lean on my own understanding.

I’m powerless to understand your thoughts and ways.
Let me just rest, assured in your love.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Deer Child – A Nature and Life Poem

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Deer Child – A Nature and Life Poem

Doe and fawn
drink from the creek at dawn,
filling their bellies
to last out the noonday heat.

Doe protective and cautious;
fawn careless and unconscious –
unaware of the eyes
watching her from the bank.

Age brings wisdom and experience,
for the youthful heart is oblivious
to the dangers disguised as blissful indulgence
lurking in the field of freedom.
.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Nature Poem About Walking in the Woods

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Walking through the Forest – A Poem About Nature

To walk through the forest
and see sunlight shinning through the trees
is like a cool, refreshing breeze
to the spirit sweltering beneath
the heat of worldly troubles.

To walk through the forest
and observe nature’s mysterious order
is like a wall erected in the path of disorder,
calming the chaotic thoughts
in the mind of modern man.

To walk through the forest
and witness untainted beauty
is like relieving the watchman from his duty –
worry retreats into the void to sleep
while I gaze upon the work of divine hands.

 

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

The Tortured Artist – A Poem

The Tortured Artist by Justin Farley

Utterly bound by the need for discovery,
yet plagued by the awareness that finding
leaves me no farther along my journey
in the eyes of the world.

The most tortured artist is the realist
who’s aware he’s playing the fool,
but must play his role regardless,
knowing it’s the only powerful card in his hand.

For if alternative aspirations
are not trumped by other’s Bowers,
in the end he’ll be defeated
by the chaos that rises out of self-neglect.

The artist must find pleasure in playing
a game few have the wits to play,
acknowledging he’s likely destined to lose
before he even sits at the table.

The artist must learn to embrace
this necessary madness;
his fulfillment and sanity
depend upon it.

The creative life must never be lived
with the goal of winning.
One must simply find joy and gratitude
in the ability to bring order out of chaos.

-Poem and post written by Justin Farley

God Will Provide Poem

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
When you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
-Isaiah 43:2-3

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God Will Provide

When you feel strangled by your mistakes
and crushed beneath the weight of guilt’s landslide,
trust that your shame will give way to redemption,
for God will provide.

When your crops fail you
and your harvest withers at your side,
believe that your table will soon be filled –
for God will provide.

When you’ve come to the end of the causeway
and trouble surrounds you on all sides,
see the way beyond what the eyes can see –
for God will provide.

When your dark night feels eternal,
and it seems the sun refuses to rise,
know there’s already a dawn waiting for you –
for God will provide.

When hope seems all but lost
and tears feel permanent in your eyes,
wait patiently for your redeemer –
for God will provide

When the wind of the world extinguishes your lantern,
and you feel you’ve lost your only guide,
a fire will be lit within you –
for God will provide.

God will provide when it’s hopeless,
when failures engulf your successes,
and when all other paths lead you astray.

God will provide strength to the weary,
a lending hand to the burdened,
and a way where there is no way.

God will provide a key to unlock addictions,
he’s the hero that rises up to slays your dragons,
and he’s the breaker of destructive pride.

God will provide food for your soul,
he gives the restless heart a home,
and is a friend to those the world casts aside.

Yes, in all trials that greet you,
when no road rises up to meet you,
God will provide.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

 

You can find some of my other Christian poems by clicking here

Poem About Destiny and Fate

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A Haunting Fate

What is this voice that comes
howling in my heart…
this restless ghost that suddenly
comes flooding out of the fog of night…
this ghoul that haunts despite my pleas,
desperately pulling me towards a distant light?

I consistently pull away from its advances,
swatting away its hands like pesky gnats
swarming in the summer sun.
But its fingers remain pointed to a path beside me,
seemingly unable to be free
until my journey has begun.

This phantom follows me despite my begging,
gone one day and back the next.
Mad as a hatter, without reason no matter my argument;
I’m convinced that my speech is wasted breath.
For surely unless its desire is fulfilled,
it will plague me until my death.

Try as I might to silence it,
this whispering voice makes contentment impossible
on this easy path I’ve chosen for me.
Finally, I wail into the wind,
“WHEN DOES THIS MADNESS END?”
And it replies, “when you reach your destiny”.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

The Cost of Freedom – Recovery Addiction Poem

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The Cost of Freedom

Confining walls, prison cell;
there’s no shame in wearing a straight jacket
if it makes you well.

Dirty dishes, soiled clothes;
it’s a heavy burden to keep
your house clean on your own.

Hidden secrets, concealed lies;
they are the extent of your sickness –
the enemy of recovery is pride.

Foolish illusions, blind in the dark;
the most harmful delusion is believing
you can trust your heart.

Death’s agent, the loser’s bane;
sometimes winning means folding now
to remain in the game.

The humble lives, the prideful dies;
better to trust in another’s truths
than to keep living by your lies.

Safety in numbers, self-reliance self-destructs;
an unchecked mind quickly becomes
unreliable and corrupt.

Freedom is sometimes choosing not to be free;
better to serve a great master,
than sit on the throne of insanity.

-Poem and Content Written by Justin Farley

As a recovering alcoholic who’s been sober for almost 11 years and someone who can become addicted to about anything that makes you feel good, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my recovery is the need to let go of my freedom sometimes. The hardest times in recovery are often the ones where we’ve still got one foot in and one foot out, believing that we can be both fully free and fully accountable living by our will power.

For me, I’ve learned that when I’m free I’m a slave, and when I’m a slave I’m free. Quite paradoxical, but I’ve learned that I can’t trust myself to do what I want myself to do. If I sit with temptation long enough, it will eventually over power me no matter how much will power I have.

We don’t want to accept defeat. We don’t want to admit that we’re weak. We want to continue to live by the lie that we’re able to conquer our demons on our own, despite file cabinets full of evidence to the contrary. Sometimes giving up some of your freedom is the only way to protect yourself from yourself. For addicts, I believe the cost of freedom is often freedom itself.

You want to be sober? Well, you’re going to have to give up the freedom of  being able to go to bars. You want to be free from addiction? You’re going to have to give up the freedom of hanging out with people that are still using. You want to be free from your shopping addiction? You’ve got to give up the freedom of carrying cash and credit cards.

Is it possible to keep all your freedoms and remain free from your addictions? Maybe. At least for a period of time, but it’s like playing Russian roulette, never knowing when your addiction is loaded in the chamber. Play long enough, and I believe you’ll eventually self-destruct.

For me, I’ve realized the cost of unchecked freedom is misery and death. And today, I choose to live.

You may also like my other addiction and recovery posts.

Poem About Birds Singing In Spring

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Birdsong

The birds of morning take their places
upon the stage of life’s amphitheater
where their voices have remained mute for months.
But today, they rise in joyful chorus,
belting out melodious tunes.

Isn’t it funny how such a small animal
can make a giant footprint upon the soul
and lift a heavy heart higher
than pharmaceutical cocktails and cognitive endeavors –
a voice that sweeps the soot from the chimney of the soul
with only chirps in rhythmic time and playful ruffles of feathers?

Somewhere subconsciously we believe
they are the gatekeepers of spring
and have enough magic in their beaks
to end this bleak, cursed winter.
Their songs are beautiful incantations,
awakening nature from its deep slumber
and inviting all who hear their music
back to life.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Internal Fire – A Poem

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Smoke fills the lungs.
Warning signals run in desperation to alert the mind
in a race that’s become all too familiar.
Flames engulf my entrails
like dry twigs thrown on a campfire on an August night.
In frantic panic, eyes search for aid,
but people pass by as if nothing were amiss.
Surely someone must feel the heat…
Can’t anyone see the fire that burns bright in these eyes?
Doesn’t anyone know the smell of the human spirit
cooking in the oven of fear or hear it’s cry,
wailing when touched by the torch
like a colonial witch burned at the stake?

My mind is already alight,
pulsing in agony,
raging like a wounded animal hobbling through the forest,
flapping my wings like a madman trying to put out invisible flames.
I wait out the blaze until every drop of fuel
has been burnt up within me.
My mind is now only simmering instead of boiling.
My brain’s fire has had it’s excess oxygen removed and dwindles.
But the coals of Hell have taken their toll.
I have been branded,
internally marked as different from society –
part man, part beast,
forced to carry these hideous scars,
these burns that have been seared upon my soul,
feeling like a traveling circus on display for all to see.

The internal fire is felt,
but remains unseen.
Daily situations necessary for living in modern society
are tiny sparks that land upon the mind’s kindling,
never knowing when flames will roar up
and engulf my essence once again,
always burning with too much heat,
and I never have enough water.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley