Wasted Worry

Ever since I read Fight Back With Joy, I’ve been thinking a lot about my level of worry or anxiety.  My daughter Mackenzie and I were having a conversation the other morning and I tried to share with her what’s been brewing inside me on this subject.

Mackenzie and I were in the kitchen and over cooking breakfast she told me about an awful nightmare she had.  In her dream, her little brother had been hurt and she couldn’t help him.  Mackenzie being the amazing big sister she is (12 years older than her little bro) and the kind soul she is, felt shaken deeply by the dream.  I could identify.  I felt her pain.  When Mackenzie was small, sometimes feelings of anxiety would overwhelm me and I couldn’t leave her or let her go with someone else because I was afraid she’d be hurt.  I lived in fear of car accidents or broken bones or kidnapping.  Sometimes I still do.  But you know what??

None of that has ever happened.

Ya’ll I’ve worried myself sick over stuff that’s NEVER HAPPENED.

Now some horrible stuff HAS happened to me, but I noticed as I considered this that I never worried about any of the stuff that actually occurred.  They always came on without warning as tragedies tend to do, and I had no inkling that I needed to be afraid those things would happen.   I was never scared that my ex-husband would leave me for another woman, or that my superhero daddy might have a terrible stroke, or that a hurricane might turn my life upside down, or that one of my darling friends might get cancer. When those horrors DID occur, you know what?  We got through. We’re getting through. God sustained us, provided for us, healed us, drew us closer together.  And it’s all right.  There has been sufficient grace for every awful moment in my life so far.

This proves two things:  One, I’m absolutely terrible at predicting the future.  Sorry if you were hoping I’d hang a neon sign on my door and open for business.  It’s not looking good.  And two, God is very good at being God and I need not attempt to do His job for Him.

The absence of worry!!

The absence of worry!!

So why do I waste my time with worry and anxiety?  I was sharing with Mackenzie after her nightmare that even though life can and likely WILL hand me some terrible things, I’m often haunted by fears of things that most likely won’t occur.  Why spend time worrying and entertaining anxious thoughts of things that probably WON’T happen?  I’ve got to trust God to get me through the bad stuff that does happen, but I can’t predict what that stuff will be, so why take away from the joy of what IS by trying to be clairvoyant about potential pain?  Ya’ll, I can BREATHE… quit braking on the passenger side, and enjoy the ride.

This is not to say that anxiety or worry won’t come knocking.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed, blindsided by a fear or a sudden horrific thought.  But it occurs to me that I don’t have to entertain the thoughts.  I don’t have to sit in them or let them take over.  I can go back to trust, back to grace.  I can shift my focus to something joyful.  I can fight back with joy, embrace the grace that has been extended to me, and be grateful for the wonderful things in my life.

They’re there, you know.  The wonderful things.  The fairies far outnumber the monsters in my world.

So how do you do it?  How do you fight the fears that threaten you?  How do you control the temptation to worry wastefully?

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Reason #4 Why I Can’t Say No

Reason #4 Why I Can’t Say No:  I can’t stand admitting that I can’t.

On the outside, friends, you might think I’m just the girl next door.  You see me come and go, live a relatively quiet life, and you never know my secret.  My deep, dark, disgusting secret.  Until now, because I’m about to tell you:   I’m a raging lunatic perfectionist.


My husband and my closest of friends are snickering because they had that figured out LONG before I.  Maybe others are raising an eyebrow.  After all, it’s not like being around me is like an episode of Hell’s Kitchen.  I don’t go around screaming or firing people who don’t live up to my expectations.  In truth, the most insane perfectionist expectations I reserve for myself alone.

I hold myself to a standard that is beyond ridiculous.  So much so that I often find myself frustrated with other people who seem to be ok with themselves even as they behave in less than perfect ways.  How do they let themselves off the hook so easily?  Not so for me!  I seem to know no other way but ON the hook.  So terribly, irreversibly ON the hook.

Even in areas where it seems I’m laissez-faire, I’m still beating myself up inside.  Keeping a perfect house, for example, has forever been beyond my reach.  So in that case, I just don’t try.  Rather than continue to try and fail, I elect not to try.  Ditto for my desk.  It’s a perpetual state of chaos and I do not have the energy to continue to attempt another failed organizational strategy.  I laugh sometimes that I’m like Pigpen on Charlie Brown.  An ongoing cloud of stuff just follows me.  I don’t mean to create it and I’m not sure where it comes from but it’s always there.  On the outside, it seems to others that I don’t care.  Just last week, a coworker moved several things on my desk.  Her explanation was “just trying to make you a little neater.”  I smiled and said nothing.  But inside me was a cauldron of humiliation and frustration because I really do expect more from myself, and sincerely do wish I had a neater desk.  I joke about it sometimes, but the truth is that it’s frustrating to me to have not yet conquered my “pigpen” type qualities.

Same goes when I have to admit that I can’t do something.  Whether it’s that I don’t have time, ability, or even the interest, saying “no” means I admit that I’m less than perfect, and um…. I hate that.

Hold on to your hats because I’m about to blow this whole thing up by admitting the truth:  THIS IS NOTHING BUT PRIDE.  Nothing at all except me wanting to be in the front of the line, every time.  Nothing except me wanting the satisfaction of being the best.   Not me, showing mercy to other poor less-than-perfect souls by letting them off easier.  Nope.  It’s me holding myself to a higher standard because I LIKE THINKING I’M THE BEST.

Totally and completely opposite of the way a daughter of the Most High God should be.  (Pride’s first on the list of things He hates, you know.)

Any of you who are still reading after seeing in print such an awful truth about me, thank you.  So what now?  Check this out:

Romans 5

 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

It’s grace, my friends.  The ultimate price was paid for me when I was completely oblivious.  You too.  No need to be in front.  No need to be the best.  No need to beat myself up for failing to achieve whatever my latest unrealistic expectation happens to be.  I’ve been loved, accepted, and declared OK already and it had nothing to do with me.  I simply had to accept it for the gift that it is.  That kind of enormous gift makes my need to be first and best seem so silly, doesn’t it?  Why all that trying for a fleeting feeling of self-satisfaction when there is a much more abiding and steady confidence that can be mine through no effort of my own?  God’s plan sure seems easier when it’s put that way, huh?   Perhaps that’s what Jesus meant by the whole “my burden is LIGHT” thing.

And since I no longer have anything to prove, seeing as how Jesus did it all FOR me, since I know that not wanting to admit my imperfections is really an imperfection in itself, and a BIG one at that, Reason #4 is officially defunct.


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