According to statistics I pulled up through google worry is making us sick. That’s right people in this year 2017 there is such a thing called “worry sickness” and it has symptoms. Real life physical symptoms, like, an inability to fall or stay asleep, twitching, restlessness, lack of appetite, numbness in fingers and toes, irritability and shortness of breath. I’m pretty sure if you call planet earth your home you are experiencing or have experienced one or more of these symptoms in the last 30-60 days. We are all navigating our way through varying forms of stress and anxiety and I want to go so far as to say that if you don’t recognise it in yourself chances are the people closest to you can see it along the pathway of your life. Sometimes we don’t see it, self awareness is a buzz word that we really should all be paying attention to, but it’s pretty to easy to see “worry sickness” in all kinds of people all around us. I see it in myself. I see it in my friends. My children. My colleagues and the lady who works in my home. I see it in the generation above me that carry fear around the latter years. I see it in the generation below me that carry fear of the future. And so I have been asking myself? What are we so worried about? What is worry and why is it so harmful?
Wikipedia describes “worry” as the thoughts, images, and emotions of a negative nature in a repetitive, uncontrollable manner that results from a proactive cognitive risk analysis made to avoid or solve anticipated potential threats and their potential consequences. Worry is also described as a response to a moderate challenge for when the subject has inadequate skills. (Profound, right?) I think its fair to say we all struggle with this in differing ways. We have all found ourselves being overwhelmed by fretting, anxiety, agonizing over decisions and outcomes, brooding over an injustice, dwelling on the past or what we though should be ours. We have all panicked about situations and, lets be honest, we get worked up over circumstances we cannot control. We all get flustered, especially with our spouses, children and colleagues. We have all lived through seasons, on tenterhooks, flapping and stressing about things big and small. Worry is everywhere and as one lady said on the internet, we’re torturing ourselves day by day as we let our thoughts run wild into the grossly negative parts of life.
Let’s face it. We are a worried people. We worry alot. But, what perturbs me most about this state of worrying is that studies show that 70% of the things we actively worry about in our minds are likely NEVER to happen. (*Sorry, but what the heck?)
I had a moment recently where I paid attention to my thoughts and I realised that, HELLO, this was me. I worry… (I know shock and horror). But I do. I worry… about the future mostly? About my kids and what lies ahead of them? Am I doing a good job? Are some of my dysfunctional ways gonna mess them up? I worry bout the legacy I’ll leave? About ageing? (I know shallow right?) I don’t know about you but I don’t want to live worried. In fact I am refusing to be ok with a worry filled life when I have been promised freedom. This is much easier said than done.
As I woke up this morning, prepared to speak peace and confidence into my day (insert chant DO NOT WORRY, DO NOT WORRY.) I felt strangely unsettled by the worried thoughts lurking in the corners of my mind. As I looked over my cup of warm water and lemon into our quaint garden, the future with all of the exciting opportunities seemed utterly overwhelming. The day ahead was unbelievably full. And my past seemed inadequate to take me into all that I needed for tomorrow. I felt worried and I hadn’t even stepped out my house. But isn’t this how most of us start and more likely end the day?
Fast forward a couple hours and I found myself with another cup of something warm in the same contoured position, but this time on my carpet. Matthew 6 was open in front of me and the theme song of “Elena of Avalor” in the background seemed to drown out some of the internal noise in my head. Call me crazy (I know some of you will) but I felt like God spoke to me through the pages. I pictured for just a moment a really kind man with eyes that echoed his gentle strength and I pictured him saying “Do not worry.” Instead of me mustering the strength and resolve to will myself towards inspired faith I felt Him say it FOR me. It was like he said, “Look Tes. Look at the birds. Really look at them. Look at them careless in the care of God. And you count far more to me than these birds. FAR FAR MORE! (Message) I felt like His kindness was so much more than an “oh shame, poor girl- I feel you”. There was a strength and urging to His presence that willed me past my ‘self’ oriented anxiety and found me planted upon gratitude. And the wonderful thing about gratitude is that it ushers in peace. Not the forced kind where you manufacture a sense of calm but the kind of peace that can not be explained earth side. The kind of peace that leaves you feeling “it is well” despite the state of the emotions or craziness of the mind.
The more I have been thinking about worry today, the more I have felt spurred on to hand it over to someone that carries it way better than me. Sometimes that “someone” looks like my husband and sometimes a friend. Sometimes it looks like a supernatural presence of God, unexplainable yet, personal on a living room floor. I love that Jesus offers us a way out of worry. And if I am honest I want to pursue what it looks like to keep taking His way out.
If you have been stirred by my thoughts on “worry” why not listen to what Ps Mark Slevin has to say here.