i have been very guilty of worrying. i do it often. for a long time i worked very hard to maintain this image as this guy who didn't worry about anything. i went out of my way to make it seem like i had it all together. but inside i was crumbling. collapsing on my self. i actually had very real, vivid, frightening dreams of myself carrying my family as i sprinted down the hall of a building that was collapsing all around us. i was running as fast as i could towards the end of the hall but the end never came, and i just felt like i would run out of time, and the building would crush us before i made it to the exit door. then, one day, it did. it collapsed. it all came down. and my life, and my families life changed, dramatically and forever.
its actually cliche to say that it changed forever. i mean, isn't the very definition of change that it is different forever. can we really ever go back to exactly the way it was. the other aspect of that phrase is that it is often given a negative slant. like our lives were devastated by this event or change. but even if the event was devastating, our change doesn't need to be.
and that's where i have found myself. in a place of recognizing that this worry thing is doing nothing to help me. or anyone around me. i am not saying that we disregard those things in our lives that we are concerned about. i am not saying that we need to just let happen to our children whatever happens and we shouldn't be concerned about them. but there is a a difference between worry and being concerned. worry consumes us. concern helps us to be more aware. being aware is a good thing. it allows us to be more present in our circumstances and relationships. worry draws our attention away from the reality of the situation.
author and pastor Francis Chan has a passage from his book Crazy Love that is one of my favorite "reality checks" about worry. its a quote that i have often referred back to for myself when i find myself worrying. he says:
"When I am consumed by my problems --- stressed out about my life, my family, and my job --- i actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important that God's command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a right to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.its a wake up call. to think that i allow myself to be consumed by worry, by stressing about a situation that in my mind i convince myself that God has no interest in, and in turn means that He has no interest in me and how its effecting me.
Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.
Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.
Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we've been forgiven, that our lives here are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won't be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God's strength, our problems are small, indeed.
We are we so quick to forget God? Who do we think we are? I find myself relearning this lesson often. Even though I glimpse God's holiness, I am still dumb enough to forget that life is all about God and not about me at all."
it takes being reminded of the passage of Jesus' words from Matthew 6 where he says to us not to worry. don't stress about even the very essentials of food, shelter, clothing any of that. and then in the next verse, an image that i have begun to allow to infiltrate my thoughts daily, hourly if neccessary. this phrase that says "consider the birds..." i have found myself adopting this phrase as almost a mantra. when i find myself consumed with worry, overwhelmed by my own stresses, i simply need to "consider the birds" to know that God cares for them, and provides for them, and cares for them deeply.
instead, i need to, as it says in verse 33 and 34 of Matthew 6
"...seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."its when i do this, then i am able to see the invitation to what God is doing, i am aware of how God is working and i am able to see that i am not just permitted, but eagerly invited to be part of it.