Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wasted Worries

Something in my devotional book sparked a longing inside of me. The question was, "How different would your life be if it were truly worry-free?" Such a thought, to me, is nearly unfathomable. I can only begin a list of things I worry about, I can never finish it. Chances are, while writing it out, I'd become worried that I'd never finish it and then frantically attempt to finish it, then worry that I should be working on something else and not procrastinating by writing a list of things I worry about.

But to live a truly "worry-free" life? How is that even possible?

Then I have to stop and ask myself, "Self?" (Because I always begin that way to make sure I'm listening... "What good has worrying ever done you in your life?"

There's no point in worrying about whether or not something bad is going to happen. Worrying about it isn't going to stop it from happening.

There's no point in worrying about whether something good is going to occur or not. Worrying about it will not enable it to occur.

So why do I spend so very much of my energy on such a pointless past-time? I'd say it's hereditary, to begin with. I believe some of us are just predisposed to worry. If you ever met my Grandma Juhasz, you'd agree. She was a hypochondriac. It doesn't matter what it was, from hypothermia to hyperactivity, she thought she had it. And she'd begin every conversation about it the same way.

"Have you ever had a lump on your tongue?"
"What do you mean, Grandma?"
"Like a little bump, and it hurts. It's a little tiny swollen lump. Do you think it could be cancer?"
"No, Grandma. I'm pretty sure it's just an inflamed taste bud, or you bit your tongue."
"I should get it checked."
"Okay, but it's really nothing."

EVERY. CONVERSATION. Fill in the blank, it began with, "Have you ever had _______" and then it would proceed to whatever horrendous thing she thought it might be, usually cancer. One time, the conversation went like this:

"Have you ever had an ache in your head?"
"NO! Grandma, you should go to the doctor right away, you might have brain cancer!"
"No, Grandma, I think you have a headache. That's what an ache in your head is called. Take some Tylenol."

This is funny, yes... but how am I any different? Why is it that, each time the phone rings, without fail, I think it's going to be bad news? Or that each time I'm in the house with a small, sleeping child, I have to check on it, even when it's not my kid? Or that, if I'm across the country on vacation, I assume that something horrible is going to happen while I'm gone? Or that every time someone comes over, I am positive they're going to let the dogs out the front door, and they'll run away and get hit by a car on the highway? Why can't I just... breathe?

Here we are, a couple of days belated, with my new verse to memorize for the week:

Matthew 6:34: "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Is it wrong to say, "PREACH IT, Jesus!"?

Why can't I just wrap my head around this one simple verse? I'd save myself so much stress, so many control issues, so many freak-outs, and probably years of my life if I could just practice this. And how true! Each day DOES have enough trouble of its own. For instance, I woke up this morning to a freezing cold house because our furnace stopped working in the middle of the night. I could not have foreseen this. I couldn't have worried about it yesterday. Which is good, because yesterday I was busy worrying about plenty of other things, none of which were the furnace. And we got it fixed in less than ten minutes by our furnace guru this morning, so it's nice and toasty warm in here once again... but now? Now I'm worrying about waking up tomorrow to a freezing cold house and it NOT being something easily fixable. Why would I add this to my list of worries for today? And why am I worrying about anything today at all?

Worries do not prevent struggles or even decrease them. Worries do not solve problems. Worries do not help me to feel better. Worries do not alleviate pain or cure any diseases. Worries do not build anyone up or help anyone out.

I'm going to try an experiment. Each time something triggers me to worry this week, I'm going to stop the cycle of anxiety before it occurs. I'm going to sit back, take a deep breath, laugh a little either internally or externally, then go about my business. I'm also going to recite the verse of the week, and remind myself that Jesus said it -- not some psychologist or president or Oprah -- it was Jesus.

And He's way cooler than Oprah is, so it must be true.

Stephanie Jean

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