I used to be more of a worrier by nature.
How are we going to pay for college? I hope the kids are safe outside. Oh God, he’s late again – I hope there hasn’t been an accident. What is this mole?
I could really work myself up into a pillar of worry drilled into the ground, staring off into space while I luxuriate in all the possibilities.
House fires. Homelessness. Child abductions. Drive-by shootings. Theft. Rape. Disease. Injury. Torture.
Oh, yeah – my mind goes there. It’s why I avoid graphic television and movies. All that grief and destruction is too tempting.
Because I mix worry with a healthy dose of overactive imagination and an overall sense of bleakness, I appreciate that my mother is not a worrier, and that she taught me that worrying is futile and a waste of time. Over the years her words ring out when worrying straps me down: We can’t often change what’s already in motion, and we can do far better being adaptable than worrying about what might happen unexpectedly. She doesn’t waste her life on worry, and neither should I. Her example has kicked me out of a worry spiral countless times.
For this I am grateful. Thanks, Mom.
But things still happen. I’m not always paralyzed by worry, but it fingers its way through my thoughts when my mind starts sparking with what ifs. What to do about the ominous feeling that grips when the kids leave the house alone, when the lights flicker during a storm, when I see the bank balance less than the sum of our bills? It’s natural for me to think the worst – I’m not my mother, after all.
Thankfully, it subsides, flickering out almost as quickly as it comes. Maybe it’s age and wisdom, which are attended by weariness and the tediousness of old habits. Maybe it’s that my childhood life lessons are finally kicking in – I was always a bit slow on the uptake.
And then again, maybe it’s because I’m closer to God these days – more than I ever was – praying almost before the worry can even think about stirring my brains.
Whatever it is, the tendency to stew in morose thoughts is kicked out of the way in lieu of acknowledging them, handing them over to God as if to say, “Hey, what’s your take on this?” and letting him take over, leaving me to adapt and move on.
Or something like that.
I love how God works in our lives. Every story that people tell in the name of God’s glory, every personal anecdote and sign from heaven is amazing and wonderful; they are proof that he exists and cares for us.
But no stories are as dear to us as our own. For me, something as mundane as learning how to kick worry to the curb through the life lessons of my mother, leading to a life where I rely on him in everything, is as amazing as God delivering a family from the ravages of war, providing a much-needed windfall to a poverty-stricken woman, bringing long-lost siblings together again, or hearing from a loved one in our dreams.
We might not all have had a clear example to model ourselves after like I had with my mom, but I learned from her and from God that he is here for each of us to cast our worries upon. “You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the one who lifts up my head… I awake, for the Lord sustained me.” (Psalm 3: 3, 5).
Dear Lord, thank you for catching my worries, for sustaining me, and for continuing to assure me that my life is in your loving hands. Amen.