When I was a kid, a lot of the adults in my life took upon themselves to help me to know how to navigate this world. They showed me how to do things like go to the bathroom, tie my shoes, do scientific studies, perform on stage, throw a baseball, shave my face, choose god friends, make paper airplanes, compliment other people, and make macaroni and cheese. And for all of these lessons, and more, I am grateful.
But from many of the same people I learn things they were unintentionally teaching me, as well. I learned how to find satisfaction in a job well done, how to hold my tongue when I was about to say bad things, what it looked like to tell the truth even when you could have gotten way with something, the gentlemanly arts of holding doors and letting ladies go first, and what grace under pressure really meant. And I am grateful for these passive lessons, too.
But I also have to confess that I learned things that no one was trying to teach me and that I really wish I hadn’t learned. I learned how to stuff my emotions deep down until I coulnd’t hold time in any longer; I learned how to swear; I learned what kinds of bullying I could get away with; I learned how to roll my eyes; and I learned how to worry. And these things have not done me any good in my life yet.
What I want to really focus on today is the powerful harm that worry causes, not only to the person worrying, but also to the world around them. See, when I see other people worrying, I feel a similar way that I did when I was a kid: I saw that something as wrong, I could see the stress it was causing the worrier, I wanted that pain of theirs to go away, and so I would try to make it go away either by fixing it or by worrying with them. In other words, when someone else around me started worrying, their problems became my problems. And it didn’t help either of our lives.
See, when we worry, I don’t honestly think we understand the amount of problem sharing that we are doing. We take a potential problem that may never happen in the future, we deposit it into our current emotional (and, by extension, our psychosomatic) experience, we feel the pain it brings, and then we verbalize or act out our worry, causing the people around us to feel it, too – something that has not even happened yet, and may never happen. When we worry, we create a problem in our future and deposit that problem into our now…and the now of those closest to us.
And that is why I hate worry. Worry is the act of taking control of factors you can’t control and turning them into things you can control. But it’s a vicious monster. It messes you up. And it messes up the lives of those you love.
I hate to say this, but I have felt the effects of too many worriers in my life. So I made a conscious decision a number of years ago: I will never worry again.
And I haven’t.
“What? You haven’t worried? You just turned it off?”
Yes. It’s possible. And it’s incredibly freeing!
Now, I am not saying that I haven’t tried to grab control of factors that control my life in other ways. I certainly have. I am not perfect…at all. And I have to seek the redeeming help of the Savior every day.
But I don’t worry anymore. And I don’t let other peoples’ worries pull at me, either. I can’t afford to. And so I don’t.
I know that how I say it makes it sound really easy, and I know that it actually isn’t. But a worry-free life is not actually that far away for you. It starts when you choose to stop believing the lies that worry is force-feeding you.
See, worry is just the physical expression of believing the fears of the unknown. And when it has its full effect on you, you become a hot mess. But fear is a liar.
Jesus specifically said in John 16:33, “In me, you may have peace! In this world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world!” In other words, the things that haven’t happened yet – the things that worry makes you fear – don’t have to mess you up. In fact, Jesus has already defeated it! And he is using everything that has happened, everything that is happening, and everything that will happen for your good (cf. Romans 8:28)! So worry doesn’t have to overcome you because Jesus has already overcome everything it is lying to you about.
Call it what it is: fear is a liar. And worry is the body it lives inside of. The path to killing fear, and thus taking the life out of worry, starts by choosing not to believe what fear is saying to you. Instead, you can choose faith; you can choose to believe that God has overcome anything and everything that could possible harm you, and is turning it into something that can only work for your good!
Fear is a liar. God is true.
Worry destroys you. Faith remakes you.
Say no to worry. Say yes to faith.