Bullied by Stress and Anxiety?

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Have you ever felt like you are being ambushed by stress, fear, worry and anxiety?  Sometimes the unpleasant feelings can be so overwhelming, making it very difficult to get a proper perspective, focus on the tasks at hand and make good decisions.  Here is an effective tool for dealing with these feelings.

The Welcoming Prayer method developed by Thomas Keating is a way of recognizing the Father's presence in our life and saying "Yes" to the work of the Spirit in and through all of life.  The goal is to help us cultivate a deeper relationship with God as we recognize that in Christ all things are working together for our good.  Becoming aware that God takes even the challenges and painful things of everyday life and will use them to help us live more freely.  God meets us in these difficult things to untangle thinking and emotions, deal with the systems of our false-self and bring healing in a transformative way.   These love / truth encounters are a part of the process of becoming like Jesus.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Whether you believe everything, good or bad, comes directly from the hand of God, that God causes the painful circumstances in our life, or you believe that life has it own seasons of pain, perhaps we can all agree that God is with us and through it all working all things for our good.

The Welcoming Prayer postures us so no matter what comes we are looking for God in the situation and how he is at work to bring healing and transformation.  It is by faith we trust that God is using ALL things for our good!

Thomas Keating's version of the Welcoming Prayer is as follows:

Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it's for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God's action within. Amen.

The Method:

  1. Experience it.  When the emotions come the temptation is to run away from them.  We may ignore them, deny them, medicate them away, etc.   You can't deal with something that you deny or refuse to experience. In the safety of the love of God, accept that you feel what you do, and experience the emotion.  You will know when you are experiencing the emotion when you also experience it on a physical level.  This might seem unsettling but remember God is with you and you are safe in his perfect love.
  2. Welcome it.  In the presence of God and in the safety of his perfect love you can say "Welcome _______ ."  The emotions may be fear, anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, whatever you are feeling.  The goal here is to come to a place where you are no longer fighting it.   Coming to a place where in surrender to God, we trust God to be our protector and our healer.  This brings about a sense of rest and calms our soul.   This is not the end goal.   By welcoming the emotion and stop fighting it, we can then hear God in the midst of it. Take a few moments to listen for God.  Listen for words of encouragement, insight, comfort and affirmation.  Remember God speaks words of love and life, not guilt or shame.
  3. Let it go.   When you have come to that place of welcome, then you can let it go.  No longer engaged and grappling with it, you can let the feeling go.  You can do this by praying something like this:

Father,  I give you this emotion of ____________ .

I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and God's action within. Amen.

  • It is here that you can release the feeling to God.  You let it go.  If it is helpful, you can picture letting go of a helium-filled balloon or perhaps blowing on a dandelion that has turned to seed.
  • You may still encounter some resistance.  You may have to let it go once more.  Calmly, gently let the emotion or feeling go.  You may need to return gently to steps one and two.
  • Remember to be gentle and kind with yourself.  Resist the urge to fight it, and fall into the safety and rest of the perfect love of God.

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