“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
We recently had our first winter weather front come through our midwestern community. We had a wonderful and beautiful fall season. The trees were displaying their colors as if to say, “Look at me!” and we all did. Summer temps hung around to keep us in our short sleeves, but over the past few days, winter decided to make a grand entrance. A 70-degree day was followed by frigid temps and winter said, “Hello”. Winter disrupted summer. A few days ago, I could still see the glimpses of the summer season when I looked outside my door, today I see winter. Hello and pass me my coat and gloves.
With this major swing in temps and barometric pressure change, a throbbing migraine, or head full of pressure was felt by many. For those of us who live in the ever-changing world of Illinois weather, it is something that we are used to. Having a headache of my own, I read an article on Livestrong.com to find out exactly what causes headaches when the weather changes. It wasn’t enough for me to be raised in central Illinois. I had to find out the why. It was a mission, and I chose to accept it.
According to a Dr. Britany Klenofsky, assistant professor of the neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who was interviewed for the article, our headaches can be caused when the barometric pressure altars the weight of the air which then disrupts the balance of fluid in our sinuses. The doctor then listed a few things you can do to help prevent and/ or manage headaches that come with weather changes. The article had my attention. First on the list… keep a journal. This is about finding what triggers the headaches. The next thing was to create a prevention strategy. This is anticipating and alleviating the triggers. The obvious one was live healthy. That speaks for itself. There were other things on the list as well, but one suggestion on the prevention list caught my attention. “Don’t Over Obsess!” Now there is a suggestion that we need for today.
Remember when the common cold was simply the common cold? Or the weather change headache was simply a weather change headache. Now when you have symptoms like a stuffy nose or headache, our minds are triggered to think COVID protocol. Lately with the weather changes, my staff have experienced the Illinois allergies. Coughs, sore throats and yes headaches. But when they come to the office, they first say “Don’t worry, it’s not COVID.” I know I am being a bit playful with this, but the truth is, if we are not careful, we can allow the simple prevention and management of health to become a major production that produces stress. I remember when I looked forward to a cold just to take a couple days off and get some rest. Symptoms have become triggers to cause worry about what is happening now and what could happen in the future. A culture of fear and anxiety is the fruit.
Fear and anxiety are pros at creating triggers aimed to steal our peace. We obsess about how we feel and why we feel it instead of staying above it and trusting that as we do our part, God will do His. “Do not be anxious about anything,” Many read this and agree, but they also are convinced that it isn’t for them. Worrying and over obsessing has become too familiar. This is more than COVID. This is life. There are times I read this encouragement from the Apostle Paul and perceive it as if it is a part of history never to be revisited again. Kind of like an Andy Griffith Show rerun. Those were the good ole’ days when a sheriff in Mulberry didn’t have to wear a gun and the one police officer who did only had one bullet. Yes, it was good entertainment then, but that isn’t reality anymore. Triggers want to fixate our minds on fear and then cause us to stress trying to figure out how to fix it. We cannot fix what we cannot control. We can only choose how we respond. The good doctor in the article said it best. Have a plan on how to respond when headaches come. My heart in this devotion is to encourage you to have a plan for when the triggers of anxiety and fear disrupt your season of peace.
Instead of triggers leading you down a spiral of doom and gloom, make a plan to do something different. Believe me I am writing from experience. When the triggers cause you to be anxious, begin to allow them to lead you to care about what God cares about. Anxiousness in this verse means to care about something that should not be cared for. Paul is saying, do not give a lot of attention to the cares that attempt to push you off balance. When we do this, we recognize the problem, maybe even prepare well for it, but we balance it with putting our mind on what God thinks about . To help us, Paul says to counter anxiousness with prayer and thanksgiving.
Have you ever tried to be thankful and anxious at the same time? Thanksgiving takes thought. Gratitude takes effort. You have to think about what you are thankful for and when you do your mind and your heart do something positive with the disruption. I have practiced this lately by taking time each morning to thank God for three things. Each day, three different things I am grateful to God for. I find myself really focusing on what I am thankful for. It takes time to be honest with this thought process. I have been surprised at some of the things God has showed me. When I think of it, I write it down in my journal Bible and then pray. Those three things trigger other prayer thoughts and before you know it, I am thinking what God is thinking. Paul tells us that we can show our minds who is boss. We can focus our attention on something new instead of the predictable pattern of fret. Then the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.
The peace of God is a guard. Think of the largest, most powerful soldier on earth and that specimen of military might doesn’t even compare to the peace of God. I know what you are thinking right now. That sounds great, but not in my house. That is where you need to begin. Right there with the seed of doubt that is trying to grow into a tree of anxiety and fear. It is time to uproot the obsession with what could happen to what is happening. God is with you. His Peace is with you. His Word is in you. Start there when the weather of life changes. Take those triggers that want to scare you and subject them to God’s peace. Balance the situation with truth! What does God say and what can God do? How can thankfulness give you a different perspective when the winter doubt disrupts your beautiful summer?
Seasons change and so does the weather. Like the weather, our lives will encounter the spiritual barometric shifts and life is soon to get hard. But now you are equipped to make a plan. The next time you are triggered to worry about something, or you find yourself falling into the obsession trap, stop. Even say it out loud if that helps. Then take those triggers and introduce them to your new bodyguard, God’s peace. Leave those worries behind with Him and go forward with thanking God that He is there. Thank Him for things that take your mind off fret and focus you on faith.
*Why You Get Headaches When the Weather Changes written by Jamie Osnato. Livestrong.com