The Worry Cycle
W-O-R-R-Y. You’re likely going to read this blog because you’re wrestling with something that keeps you all stirred up. In actuality, I would imagine that everyone who reads that “W” word will continue reading on. How do I know that? Because if you’re a member of the society of humans, worry is part of the journey.
Seems like everywhere I look right now people are hurting or bothered about something. Maybe one of these fits into your worry box: I’m nervous about my child falling behind in school. I’m anxious about the upcoming election. I’m edgy about money running out. I’m uneasy about my family getting COVID. I’m fretful about being able to hold it all together. I’m just plain worried—incessantly torn between what’s real and what might happen. I think we’d all agree. Worry is like being at war with oneself.
Yet here’s what I know to be true about worry. It has the tendency to keep us up at night, an unwanted vex we all deal with from time to time. And concerning the long haul of life, I might add we’re never immune from it. Guess that’s why Jesus had so much to say about it. He KNEW its danger and how the destructive “what ifs” that loom in the future could suffocate our well-being.
So you might ask, Pam, do you ever worry? Friend, how can I not?! I have kids and grandkids, a ministry with hundreds of mothers doing the best they can to raise their kids, and more. And though worrying may not be a lifestyle for me, there are definitely momentary issues that pull me under, and I don’t like that one bit! Oh, help us, Jesus!
So concerning all this, I’ve considered Jesus’ words, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27). Maybe we just need to stop and talk to ourselves. “Self, if you keep stewing over this situation, will you be better by night fall?” or “Self, would you rather weaken your mind and multiply your misery or release it to Jesus and increase your peace?” Friend, I’m not a good mathematician but this I know: worry subtracts and trust adds.
I heard a story the other day that hit me hard. A man kept a gerbil in a cage. (And by the way, this owner was a mathematician.) For hours the creature would step up into that big wheel and run round and round going nowhere. One day the man did some calculating and discovered that little mammal had run over 9,000 miles! But in the end, guess what? The little critter was still inside the cage.
So, how do we interrupt the worry cycle and slow it down? Maybe we should distinguish if the worry is solvable or unsolvable. If it’s solvable, brainstorm for a plan of action. If it’s unsolvable, accept the uncertainty and let it go (best we can). I’m thinking…Why run 9,000 emotional miles when we don’t have to?