I love to worry. Like all the time. Like–not even an hour ago I was worrying.
In fact, not only do I worry all the time, I worry with great imagination and creativity. One might call me an accomplished worrier.
I worry about everything:
the very near future, ‘I have coffee with a new friend– what if she doesn’t like me”…
and the distant future, ‘With TC’s new job that pays less than his last, how are we going to cutback to make ends meet’ …
to the very, very, very distant future, ‘Breast cancer runs in the women in my family– WILL I DIE OF BREAST CANCER? and if I do, will it be before I get to see my children graduate from college? What about my grandbabies….will I see my grand babies? Ohhhhh NO! Will my husband find a new wife after me? Will that hussy get to see my grandbabies???”
and most importantly….
WILL MY HUSBAND THINK HIS NEW WIFE IS PRETTIER THAN ME!!!!!!!!
Like I said…great imagination and creativity.
I love to worry like a drug addict loves crack. Every hit of frenzied focus on my fears is satisfyingly righteous.
I tell myself, “I’m not worrying– I’m being responsible” or “This isn’t fear, it’s realism.” or my most recent favorite, “I’m just thinking through the possibilities so I can be emotionally prepared if/when it happens.”
All lies. All justifications from an anxiety addict. All the wrong types of responses to the very real concerns of living in a broken world.
In truth, y’all, I’ve got ALLTHEFEELINGS and fears. They roil in my gut. Squeeze at my security. Force harsh words out of my mouth. Sometimes I feel powerless to them so I to let wave of worry to wash over me.
Just this morning when my son asked me for $15 to pay for a book, I snapped, “Really, Son? Really? I don’t have time to talk about money for a book! Don’t you know I’ve got bills to pay!!!!”
There’s something about worry the breaks down our ability to be truly human, to patiently engage others with love and respect, to lovingly hear the hearts of our babies. There’s something about worry that robs joy from our present: the crisp, fall morning and the goodbye kisses from my husband.
Worry robbed my morning, it’s true but worry stole something more precious: my identity as a follower of the Prince of Peace and if I know anything, I know identity is the starting place of peace– peace that surpasses understanding, peace unlike the world has ever seen, peace that makes stillness possible.
This is the peace of knowing to whom you belong and who has promised to be with you as you wade through uncertainty.
This morning, I pulled out Matthew 6:25 to remind myself of Jesus’ teachings on worry. Even though, I had all the feelings, all the fears, and the creatively terrifying possibilities spinning in my mind, in twenty years of being a believer I’ve learned that my first defense against worry is to channel that anxious energy into study and prayer. I’m always better after re-directing all the feelings towards God. Maybe not more settled in the ways I want to be, but closer to him– which was the point of Jesus’ teaching on worry.
When Jesus sat in a field referencing birds and lilies he didn’t teach his disciples to not worry because God has all the material wealth and all the sovereignty and all the perfect plan “A”s to get us out of the fire, no, he spoke of Kingdom identity and relationship to a good Father.
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Twice Jesus refers to God as our “heavenly Father”. When I read this I realized that Jesus wasn’t using, “heavenly Father” as a throw away endearment like we’d say, “baby” or “sweetheart”, he was identifying how we should view God in the midst of our worry and then adjust out view of ourselves in relation to that.
If God is our heavenly Father then:
1: My focus should not be on the very temporal cares of this earth but on the constant will of God to bring his shalom on earth as it is in heaven.
2: If Jesus teaches us to view God as a Father and we know that God looks like Jesus because Jesus is the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3) and we know Jesus modeled sacrificial love, then is it too far a stretch to imagine that the type of Father God desires to be us is a good, attentive, sacrificially loving Father?
I think so. For sure, I have my own “daddy issues”, but I’ve always loved Jesus and if God looks like Jesus then that’s a Father I definitely want to trust in.
As I sit here with All Sons and Daughter’s singing, “Great are you, Lord! It’s your breath in our lungs” I can’t help but let that truth sink in. I think about the prospect that the very one who leaned down and breathed life into Adam desires to lean in close to me and breath peace to anxious. I think that he wants me to take deep cleansing breaths of his love and I realize I can’t hold onto to him and my worry at the same time.
When I’m worried I want the quick fixes, the answered prayers, the logical solutions. But I wonder if Jesus speaking to something deeper. Is he teaching that we may have use for money, and clothes, and security, but we only really NEED a constant relationship with Father one where I can trust him like a daughter and he can love on me like a doting Daddy?
I think so.
I know that even though I’m still broke and concerned about my family’s medical history and still unsure about my kids’ futures, I stopped, acknowledged that God sees me and knelt down in acceptance of that truth. I opened my palms, and raised my hands to a good Father in both surrender of my fears and an offering of them to the one whose hands we’re pierced to show me just how much he loves me.
Something about doing this kin esthetic praying this morning made me feel less anxious, more known, better equipped to traverse ambiguity.
But, it all started with seeking first the Kingdom of God–his desires for shalom in me and His righteousness– his desire to create shalom in me through relationship.
Leaving my hands open today,