“Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy, anxious and worried about your life…Can anyone by worrying and being anxious add a single hour to their lifespan?…But (instead) seek, aim at and strive after His kingdom first and His righteousness and way of doing things…do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-34)
I have a frank and honest confession to make. I’m a worry wart. I find myself worrying excessively and needlessly too often about too many things.
For years, as a child, my parents, teachers and friends would tell me to stop being such a worry wart! But I found it so hard to stop. Whether I blame it on genetics (I have a worry wart for a Mother and my brother is a bigger worry wart than I am [sorry David, you know it’s true!]) or whether I blame it on upbringing (that whole ‘nature versus nurture’ argument), I somehow grew up with the thought that if I didn’t worry about things, who else would?!
I’m not even going to try to list the things I’ve spent hours worrying about over the years! Not only are some of them extremely trivial, but you’d probably laugh at me! Instead, laugh at what author Erma Bombeck writes. “I’ve always worried a lot, and frankly I’m good at it. I worry about introducing a group of people and going blank when I get to my mother. I worry about a shortage of ball bearings. I worry about the world ending at midnight and getting only three hours worth of a 12-hour cold and flu capsule. I worry about what the dog thinks when he sees me getting out of the shower. I worry that my daughter will marry an Eskimo and set me adrift on an ice-berg when I can no longer feed myself. I worry about salespeople following me into the fitting room. I worry about oil slicks. And I worry about scientists discovering someday that lettuce has been fattening all along.”
We are living in what has been labelled the “Age of Anxiety” with many patients occupying hospital beds because of their stress-related illnesses. As a nurse, I can attest to this fact. Sadly, the top three best-selling prescription medications are medications for the treatment of ulcers, medications for the treatment of hypertension and medications for the treatment of anxiety. Worry changes nothing except the condition of your health. It gives you heartburn, high blood pressure and headaches.Everyone’s heard that saying that 80% of all the things we worry about never even happen! And out of the 20% of things that do happen, 80% of those are never as bad as we thought they were going to be! So, worry doesn’t change anything except for the condition of our health and, according to author Renae Swope, “worry doesn’t change anything except the condition of your heart and the atmosphere of your home.” Ouch. Unfortunately, there have been plenty of times during our recent difficult season where I affected the atmosphere of my home because of worrying habitually, excessively and needlessly over nothing. So it’s time to stop.
I’d love to say it’s going to be easy to stop being a worry wart.
I’d love to offer some advice and encouragement about how, during this recent season of rediscovering my relationship with God I somehow miraculously grew out of the worry habit.
I’d love to give a ‘how to stop being a worry wart in 5 simple steps’ solution.
But I can’t.
All I know is I’m a worry wart on a journey of working out that I don’t need to worry because God’s got this covered for me already. Yes, it’s hard to let go. Yes, it’s hard to trust someone else to do the worrying for me when I’ve done such a good job of worrying for myself (and everyone and everything around me) for so many years. Yet, the Bible reminds me (ok, commands me!) to give all my worries, anxieties and concerns to God, because He cares about me. (1 Peter 5:7) One translation actually says “Throw all your worry on Him, because He cares for you”!
The Bible also says “Do not be anxious about anything and do not worry about anything. Instead, in every situation, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand and goes far beyond anything we can imagine. This peace, His peace, will guard your hearts and your minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
I love that image! Imagine, instead of worrying excessively and needlessly if I were to just pick up the worries that weigh me down and throw them up in the air, knowing that God loves me so much that He will catch them and take care of them for me! Then, as I thank Him for what He has done and pray and tell Him what I need, I will experience a peace that is beyond anything I have ever imagined or experienced before.
So, I’ve got my starting point…next time I want to worry, I’m going to pray.