The Opportunity of Worry – Story from Paris
My goddaughter Flora lives in Paris, and the minute I heard about the terrorist killings in France, I started to worry. The more news I got, the more worrisome the situation became. Thanks to Facebook, I learned within 24 hours that Flora was all right. But the worries were still there. What to do about worry? A worry can get into my head and expand to such a degree that all happiness and joy shrinks to nothing.
Jesus said a great deal about worrying. One of the loveliest Bible passages is all about worry: “Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?”(Matthew 6:26-27)
Indeed, how can a worry lengthen your days? How can it increase the span of your life?
Whenever I read that passage and consider the birds, I picture how incredibly hard they work. I look out my window and see them dashing in and out of branches, gathering twigs for their nests, digging up worms, chomping on bugs. God does feed them, but you couldn’t say they don’t work for it.
But do they worry? Of course not. They’re birds. They don’t have the complicated, reflective minds that God endowed humans with. They can’t anticipate the future like we can.
By contrast, our brains are leaping ahead of us by yards and miles. One minute I’m worried about having enough milk for cereal tomorrow, the next I’m worried about what terrorists could do next. In between, there are worries about work, money, my health, the kids, the weather, the state of the world and anything my fly-paper brain picks up.
The worst is to sit down to pray and find after 20 minutes that my precious one-on-one time with God has been wasted on a packet of worries. Not to worry? It seems impossible.
Here’s a solution: Give all those worries over to God. Author Cynthia Bourgeault, a great advocate of prayer, tells of a nun who on a retreat closed her eyes to sink into a relaxing, soul-centering meditation and exclaimed afterwards of having 10,000 things on her mind. The retreat leader didn’t skip a beat, saying, “Well, then you have 10,000 opportunities to get in touch with God.”
Every worry is a chance to let go, to put on the mind of Christ, to become as free as the birds flitting around in the branches. Every worry can lead us back to God.
What to do with worrying? Turn your worries into prayers. Put wings on them. Set them airborne. I don’t think I’ll ever stop worrying entirely–it seems part of my nature. But to do this, to put little parachutes on my worries and send them flying is very satisfying. New worries will pop up in their place and I’ll get the opportunity to release them, every one of them serving to make me a little more faithful, a little more trusting.
Not to worry? I can’t do that. But it’s good to know there’s a place to leave all worries behind.