Raw Reflections from the Journey

Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Work Well with our Worries

Did you like the last post?   I just couldn't resist the prank!  For those of you that missed it, the title suggested something curious, "The Value of Worry" and then left the body of the blog empty.  A couple of people responded.  "Jeff, there wasn't anything there."  Exactly.

But, to be intellectually honest, I must point out that research says there is some value to anxiety.  The Yerkes-Dodson law in psychology says that moderate amounts of anxiety bode well for performance.  A bit of nervousness before a test, public presentation, athletic performance, etc. moves us to try and to pay attention.  Absent anxiety we might take a lackadaisical approach.  And too much anxiety can be disabling.

What got me thinking about this was the blessing of seeing some black numbers in our business, personal and non-profit account at the end of the year.  That led to the challenge of making some year end purchases and allocations (either give to ourselves via IRA investment or give to Uncle Sam).  That led to reduction in the business account balance, which led to  . . . WORRY!  How are we going to build that back up for first quarter taxes, and other budget commitments?  Are you following?

The sad thing is that I know better.  We have a long decade of trusting God for provisions behind us.  Still, anxiety surfaced.  Thankfully, it wasn't disabling . . . but rather just enough to move me to something productive.  More about that in a moment.

Back to 'worry' for a minute.  I hate the word.  I hate to say it and I hate to hear it because it comes with unpleasant feelings.  When I worry I feel anxious, scared and yucky.  And when others worry I get frustrated because that time is being wasted.  Let's get to a solution!  My problem-solving muscles kick in and I want to advise action or take action to "do something about it".

But sometimes there isn't something to do.  Or is there?

How many of us invite Jesus to conversations about worries.  "Lord, I'm worried about _____.  What would you have me know about that? What is your perspective? Is there something you would have me to do?"

Waves of hope were followed by troughs of worry and disappointment as we surfed a complicated deal to sell our home in Maryland this past fall.  Close the deal before the end of the year and avoid a significant tax assessment.  Close in 2013 and we'd had to come up with a significant number.  Upon confiding my "worry" to a friend he prayed for me to faith for provision either way.  God didn't show the answer.  He didn't assure me about the solution, but He did calm my spirit by reminding that He saw the situation, had it in hand, and would be with me/us through the duration.  Sounds a lot like His voice, "In this world you will have much trouble, but take heart for I have overcome it."  Notice that He didn't reveal what He was going to do.  Rather, He provided Himself and reassurance that He had it in hand.

Thus, I conclude that while wallowing in worry is wholly unproductive, that a little bit is good so long as it moves me to "cast my anxieties on Him who cares for me".  The result is a reminder that my Provider is present.

(Note: The house closed December 19, which was eight years to the day of the first time I walked through it to approve the purchase contract.  And we were thankful that it didn't close until we'd relearned the lesson that there is no value in worry other than to move us to dependent listening prayer. That strengthened our relationship with our Provider and Friend who consoled and soothed us with His presence throughout.)

Does God always solve things the way we'd like Him to? No.  Does He remain present no matter what?  Yes.  "Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I am with you, wherever you go."

Pressing on,


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