My Grandmother Blanchard was what people sometimes refer to as a “Worry Wart”. Although this was widely acknowledged among her family members, she would beg to differ. “I’m not worried, just concerned,” she would often say. I do not want to say whether or not she worried too often or too much, but I do think I inherited her heightened sense of “concern”.
If left to my own devices, I am a “Worry Wart!” This phrase is a perfect description of what worry can do to me if not “treated.” Worry, for me, like a wart, is an infection in my heart and soul– lies from the enemy, and it causes a virus of fear, doubt, and anxiety. My worry can be anything from mildly irritating to painful and sometimes even makes me ugly- or at least my words and actions ugly.
Over the course of my life, I have worried over many things. One of the things that causes me anxiety sometimes is my inability to control certain things…like, for example, my children–(Moms out there–Can you relate?) Here’s a small recent example:
My son was given an opportunity to make up an assignment that was due about 4 weeks ago. Every time I ask him to work on it, he balks or gives an excuse. The other day, he was getting really emotional about it. As he got more upset, I began to get frustrated… “Just do the assignment! It’s been almost a MONTH! Turn it in already!” I said as I stormed out of the room.
I went into the bedroom, shut the door, and sat down…why was I getting so upset–(I was really angry about this ongoing make up work saga!!) Why was I worrying about HIS assignment?!….. Was it because I wanted to protect him… keep him from academic ‘harm’? Maybe a little, but the truth is much less noble…I was worried about ME…. I had an understanding of the situation that was not rooted in truth. I was under the false belief that his work, his grade, was a reflection of me (or him for that matter.) I believed the lie that my failure to keep up with his assignments in the first place would make me a ‘bad parent’- or look like one. I believed if I didn’t make him do the work after I had told him to that it meant I was weak. Bottom line? The worry was infecting my thoughts and affecting my perceptions, my words, and my actions. I was getting an “ugly” mindset and it was causing pain for me and my child.
So how did I rid myself of this infection, this ‘worry wart’? By recognizing that my fears and doubts were ultimately growing from a lack of trust in God and then seeking His Word for the truth and trusting in that truth. I realized that I was not trusting my son’s heart to God–allowing him to work in it through experience. I was also not trusting God with my own identity. I was labeling myself as “good” or “bad” based on my son’s performance. (And, admittedly, labeling my son with the same criteria.) I did not want my son to “fail” or for me to be labeled a “bad mom.”
Once I figured out the source of the ‘virus’ of fear, I thought about what the BIBLE has to say about these things. The world says that we are to avoid failure at all costs, but the Bible gives many examples of blessings through failure, lessons taught through pain, and God’s strength shown through our weaknesses. I was also reminded that I am not defined by anyone else but Christ. (See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1) The world evaluates things differently than God. (People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1Sam 16:7) Both my son and I have “warts” on our hearts, but God uses these types of experiences to point them out to us and, in turn, remove these issues. My son has some hard work to do on learning the importance of hard work! I am going through the hard work of letting him grow up and learn on his own. I am trusting God in all of this…not perfectly, I still have anxious moments, but I know God is right there, wanting to heal me, to create a clean, wart free heart, in me. So I keep trusting…and adjusting.
This is just a tiny example of a relatively small daily occurrence. Of course, at different points in my life my anxiety has come from bigger things- body image issues, the ups and downs of marriage, and my lack of ability to control circumstances that have caused ones I love great pain. But in all of these things, one thing has remained the same–When I trusted those things to God and adjusted my mindset (and actions) to reflect that trust…I began to find peace that went beyond my normal every day…it surpassed my uncertainty, my own understanding of things.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7