Worry

What do you worry about?  Really, take a step back and look at your life.  What are you worried about right now?  What were you worried about last week?  Can you peg down a few things?

Here’s my current list…

  • My bottom teeth are getting crooked.
  • Claire will be jealous of our new baby.
  • Our baby won’t attach to us and will resent us for not being his “real” parents.
  • People will be rude to our new child because he is adopted.
  • There is dog hair on the carpet and laundry all over the couch and company is coming tonight.
  • I won’t make a difference and will feel like my life didn’t matter.
  • There are children all around the world who don’t have families.
  • These new people in my life won’t like me.
  • Claire will be mistreated by other students in her class.
  • Claire will mistreat other students in her class.
  • What will I make for dinner?
  • How will we afford (insert: bills, holiday travel, paying for our adoption, etc.)?
  • Sex slavery is alive and flourishing in our world.
  • People in my family, workplace, community do not know the Lord.
  • My t-shirt has butter stains all over it from when I dropped the knife on it at breakfast and I am just noticing it at 11:30 am.
  • My car has scratches on the bumper.

These are just a few of the things that immediately came to mind when I thought about worrying.  So in my 30 years of living, how much time have I spent wasted worrying?  Hours?  No, more than that.  Days?  Weeks?  If I don’t stop myself here, I may go on worrying about how much time I’ve spent worrying.  Has worrying helped me in any single situation?  Of course not.  We know worrying is futile.  It’s not constructive.  It’s a waste of time; a waste of emotions; a waste of life.

When I look at my list, I can easily categorize my reasons for worry into one of three groups.  From where I’m sitting, it seems that there are three main types of worry.  (The teacher in my wants to print this page out, cut my list into neat strips, and ask you to use a glue stick to paste them into the appropriate categories below.)

1.  “You Are Ridiculous And Shallow And Immature And No One But You Is Concerned About It” Worries
The worries in this category generally have something to do with what others think.  For example, I bought this shirt in a large so that it will look flowy and full, and stay away from my muffin top, not accentuating my rolls, but now I’m worried and thinking I should have bought a medium so that I don’t look like a frumpy old grandma.  What am I going to do???Gaw!  

I’ve heard worries in this category called First World Worries and that is so accurate.  In America, our lives are so full of extra stuff/activities/obligations/wants/bills that we pile on a whole heap of unnecessary worries.  Worrying about which cable package we should get or if our new rug matches the living room or what color we should dye our hair would not even cross the mind of someone living in the Congo (or someone living in our country 75 years ago).

When it comes to worries like these, I am guilty way too often.  What I need is for someone to say to  yell at me, “Get over yourself!  It doesn’t matter!”  I love the quote that says, “You wouldn’t care so much what people think about you if you knew how little they did.”  I hope that doesn’t sound harsh.  I hope it sounds like a huge box filled with one third of your current worries being lifted off your shoulders.  Ahhhh.

2.  “This Is Real Life And It’s Tough And You’ll Cry, But You’ve Got To Learn To Deal With It” Worries
These worries are hard.  Especially as a mom.  When we find out we’re pregnant or decide to adopt, we’re happy for .37 of a second and then we start to worry.

I’m pregnant – yay!
Am I eating right?  Am I drinking too much caffeine?  Have I felt the baby move today?  Should I go all natural or use an epidural? What if something goes wrong?

We’re adopting – so exciting!
How are we going to pay for this?  What if we never get chosen?  What if the birth mom uses drugs?  What if the birth mom decides to parent?  What if the baby doesn’t attach to us?

And then we actually get a baby.  A real-live human being placed into our very care.
He’s not eating enough.  Should we let her cry it out?  He has a cough.  She’s not crawling yet.  He’s not speaking clearly.  She still sucks her thumb.  What about kidnappers?  What about bullies?  What about peer pressure?

I weave worry webs in my mind, jumping from one source of worry to the next, barely pausing to breathe.  These worries are real and they are scary.  But there is an answer.  What we need when these worries surface is for someone to gently whisper in our ear, “It’s going to be okay.”  The Holy Spirit has graciously volunteered for this job, and he doesn’t stop there.  He begins with, “It’s going to be okay,”  and more importantly ends with, “because I am in control.”  And we say, “Oh yes.  I remember now.”  And our mind gets to rest.

3.  “Break Your Heart, Slap You In The Face, Put A Knot In Your Stomach, Heavy Burden” Worries
The day I heard Jasmine’s story, my heart ached in a brand new way.  I lay in bed that night thinking about the sweet eight year old girl walking up and down the halls of her school, asking one teacher after another to adopt her so she could finally have a family after years in foster care.  I lay awake in my bed for hours and I cried.  And I worried.  And I thought, How can this happen?  What is the answer?  There has to be a solution.

Worries like these are too heavy a burden for us to bear.  They grab hold of you and won’t let you go.  They fill up your brain and devastate your heart.  There is one thing that worries like these call for – action.  We need someone to shout at us, “Do something!”  Worrying is not enough.  Pray!  Give!  Go!  Serve!  Worrying and crying do nothing.  But praying, praying can change someone’s life.  Giving to an organization that gets it, that’s doing the work, that’s powerful.  Stepping out and doing something – donating to a crisis pregnancy center, serving in a soup kitchen, becoming a foster parent, inviting someone who’s outcast into your home for a meal – things like these can change the world.

I’m so thankful for the clarity found in scripture with regards to worrying.   Don’t do it.  It’s pointless.  There’s a better way.

Have you heard the song Your Love is Strong by Jon Foreman?  It’s simple, but it’s so good.  My favorite part – the verses that reach me the most – are these.

I look out the window
The birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune
Or out of place
I look at the meadow
And stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl
On her wedding day

So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need

We don’t have to worry.  There is a better way.  And the reason is…
His love is strong.

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