How to Break the Cycle of Worry

When her son was deployed, an anxious military mom took inspiration from the family dog to find a more positive way of thinking.

Posted in , Mar 22, 2018

How a pet inspired a worried military mom

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8, HCSB) 

One of my biggest struggles during our son’s time in the military was the battle that constantly raged in my head. Without focus and determination, my mind would naturally dwell on the negative what-ifs of having a son in the military during wartime.

Without meaning to, I had allowed my thoughts to wear a path to the well of catastrophe, become a frequent visitor to the cliffs of despair, and lead the way to the bog of hopelessness. 

Someone else in our family was also struggling with our son’s absence. Jake, his dog was one mopey mess. All our boys loved this dog, and Jake loved them. But his special buddy had always been our oldest son. Not too long after our son left for on his first deployment, I noticed that Jake was developing a bad habit. He’d sit on the couch and scratch. He concentrated on the area under his chin where his collar lay.

This went on for a couple of days before I finally investigated. He had actually rubbed himself raw from the constant scratching, so I took him to the vet. The doctor didn’t diagnose a definite cause for the itch, but suggested he could be sad and missing his owner.

Whatever the cause, the important thing was to find a way to stop him from causing more harm. The vet prescribed some meds, but even more than that, suggested we get his mind off his troubles. Jake was put on a schedule of regular walks and activities to keep him distracted. Because by leaving him time to dwell on his sorrow, we’d allowed him to become his own worst enemy. 

I saw the parallel to my own life. Because I kept circling around negative thoughts, I’d become my own worst enemy as well. I decided to apply the vet’s cure for Jake and began a regimen to distract myself from the worrisome what-ifs. When I felt my thoughts veering off into negative paths, I’d pull them back in line by reading the Bible. To that I added memorizing verses that reminded me of all God’s promises to protect us. And over time, just like Jake, my new practice steered me away from worry and toward peace.

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