I thought everything was okay. But one quick glance down at Mark immediately told me that it wasn’t. His fists were clenched tight. His jaw was sliding side to side as he ground his teeth. And his cheeks were slowly turning an odd shade of violet as he held his breath. I’d seen all these symptoms before. Sadly, Mark was falling apart.

Things were admittedly going downhill quickly, but there was still time to prevent a complete meltdown. So, I found a quiet corner and dragged Mark over.

It was the first day of school, so the cafeteria was a bustling and busy place. I couldn’t get Mark out of there. There just wasn’t time. But I could limit the chaos—at least a little. I could put myself between Mark and the overwhelming situation in front of him.

“Mark,” I said, holding his chin up firmly so his eyes would meet mine. “Give me your hands…”

He responded, quickly handing me his clenched fists. It was just as I feared. He’d already dug his fingernails in deep enough to draw blood.

I fished through my pocket for a piece of tissue to wipe off his hands as I continued calmly but with a strong voice, “Now, look at me. Relax your jaw and take a deep breath.”

It was a struggle, but he tried. And it worked. Thankfully, together we had averted what could have been much worse.

There was likely close to 400 kids in that one room. To say it was loud and overwhelming would be a vast understatement. So, Mark’s reaction was completely justified. In fact, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was expecting it.

What I wasn’t expecting was his ability to follow my instructions. There were so many distractions, I worried that they would drowned out my directions. But much to my—and Mark’s—tremendous relief, he didn’t let them.

We can work to do the same for ourselves. Experiencing worry isn’t the problem. That’s human. It’s how we work through it and past it that matters.

Dear Father God,
You are my shield. Thank You for being my hiding place when I worry.
Help me to be still before You.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

(Psalm 59:11, 32:7 & 37:7)

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