I recently found myself nervous about several situations all at once. Despite Bible study, prayer, worship, and a little too much talking things over with my husband, I was still, dare I say, worried. In the end all three of the circumstances worked out for the best. As they usually due. Sigh. Cue the guilt for lack of faith. Double sigh.
I began to ponder, “Why did I go through this cycle…again?!?” Then I started thinking about all the folks I know who have expressed to me their own struggle with worry, and I started wondering why we all seem to worry so much. It came to mind that there are a number of possible reasons:
1) We live in a culture of negativity. We have 24/7 access to the news telling us what’s happening around the world. Most of the news isn’t so great. It can easily lead us to questions that cause fear and worry. What if something like that happened where I live? What could possibly happen next? Why is this happening?!? We stand around the water cooler (ok, does anyone actually do that?) fretting and complaining about all that bad news, but we also waste time on the mundane things in our own lives that don’t even matter. I’m calling myself out on this one too. Yes, bad things are happening all around us, and that will keep happening. We can’t do something about everything, nor should we sit around worrying about it all. Instead, we need to recognize what we do have control over, what we can help with, and we should spend more time focusing on all of the positive around us.
2) We live our lives too publicly. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Blogs. I’m on them all too. We live our lives so much more publicly than in the past, and it seems to me that we set ourselves up. We can’t possibly live up to the expectations we set for ourselves. I remember reading this article in college about how we are often so much harder on ourselves than anyone else is on us. I think it’s true. So what if someone doesn’t think you look thin enough or if someone doesn’t like your hair cut or if someone doesn’t agree with your post? We worry too much about what others think, and part of it is because we expose ourselves too much to too many people…many of them who aren’t even really friends. Maybe we can learn to be open, even transparent, without worrying about what others think.
3) We are nurtured to worry and we nurture others to worry. When others around you, especially children, hear and see you worrying (yes, it is palpable!) they are more likely to begin to worry as well. In a way, it can be contagious. And it can become a habit. A go-to emotion. We all know the expression “misery loves company” and we sure do want others to join us in our worry. We want others to agree with us and tell us we are right to be upset. But, why? Do we really want others to experience that negative emotion? What if we just ask for support without dragging others down? And what if we tried not to “go there” when others want us to? Boundaries are tough, but important.
4) We actually don’t rely on our faith enough. While I refuse to feel guilty when I am forgiven, I do believe there are times when I worry because I am not focusing enough on my faith. I can do all the “right things” such as praying and Bible study, but am I really, really, really focusing on the truth of God’s word and His will? Not when I spend my time ruminating over things that aren’t going perfectly. What about you?
Friends, there are lots of reasons why we worry. I know the last point above is true for me. Maybe the others are true too. But, the bottom line is that knowing this information won’t actually stop me from worrying. I have to completely redirect my focus and attention. I have to stop focusing on the negative. I have to stop being concerned about what others think about me, and focus on what God says about me. I have to stop bringing others to this place of worry with me, and stop allowing them to lead me to worry. And I must Trust. In. God.