Worry vs. Faith

Image

My name is Kelsey and I’m a worrier.  Not just a little worrier…sometimes I am overwhelmed with worry.  I’m so ashamed to admit it because, as a woman of faith, I should be putting all my trust in my savior, Jesus Christ.  I know it is one of my biggest character flaws.  I have been thinking about blogging on this forever but even worried about getting my thoughts down succinctly.  But, I also know I’m not alone in this and I thought that by writing through it, I might be able to help others who struggle with this same failure of faith.

 

 I’m sure my worrying nature dates back to when I was very young.  As I have posted before, I grew up with a very abusive father.  I suffered from migraines when I was 10 years old and I underwent a myriad of medical tests to find the reason.  What the doctors found was not only did I have the migraines, but I also had a full-blown ulcer.  Their diagnosis was that I was over-stressed and that I worried way too much for a 10 year-old child.

Image I never knew the mood my father would be in when he came home from work.  And I certainly couldn’t control what was going to happen…although I know I tried.  I can remember rushing around trying to make everything perfect.  But, nothing I did or didn’t do really had anything to do with whether he would be in a good mood or bad.  And, we only needed smooth sailing until my father left for the evening.  He had a slew of activities and hobbies that kept him busy and out of the house almost every night of the week.

 

ImageBut, after I was diagnosed with my ulcer, my mother made a decision to change the dynamic to try and help me better deal with my anxiety.  From that day on, we rarely ate dinner at home with my father.  My mother, brother, and I would leave the house at 5:00 p.m. sharp…just missing my father who arrived at 5:05.  We went out to dinner every night!  By the time we got home, my father would have already left for his evening activity.  And, we were usually in bed by the time he got home.  This is how we lived until my parents divorced when I was 16.  But, by then, my tendency to worry had now become ingrained and second nature to me.

 

 

ImageIn an attempt to have some degree of control over all aspects of my life, I now ponder and plan, obsess and over-analyze, strategize and scheme so that every “i” can be dotted and “t” crossed.  I try to take care of everything so I won’t have to worry, but it doesn’t matter.  I worry anyway.

 

 

You may ask what it is that I worry about?  More than anything, I worry about my children…their successes and failures.  I worry about their marriages, their finances and how they can survive in this economy.  I worry about my grandchildren.  Will they grow strong in their faith and love the Lord?  Will they do well in school?  WILL THEY STAY HEALTHY?  The list goes on.

 

ImageSurprisingly, I don’t worry about myself.  Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  While I did have some complications, for the most part, my entire cancer journey and recovery was smooth and simple.  Some people would have heard the word “cancer” and they might worry about their own mortality.  I don’t worry about my mortality at all.  I don’t fear my death.  Sometimes I think it is the only thing that would end my worrying.

 

Image

 

I am aware that my worrying is rather self-centered and prideful and it all revolves around control.  It distracts you from what is wonderful and beautiful and joyful.  But, the reality is that I worry the most about things over which I have absolutely no control and over which I couldn’t fix even if I tried.   Intellectually, I realize that my worrying serves no practical purpose except to immobilize me.  But, that doesn’t stop the worries from creeping into my thoughts.

 

But, I have found ways to calm my worried heart.  There are three things that I rely on to help me ‘let go and let God’.  I’m not listing them in any particular order.  Sometimes, just doing one of these things will be enough to put my emotions under control.  Sometimes, I require doing all three because I am overcome and crippled with worry.

 

ImageFirst is prayer.  I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes when you are in the depths of despair over a problem, you can be blind to what can help.  Right now my family is currently struggling with some issues that have the potential of being devastating to many.  I have so many specific needs to put in prayer and I can’t verbalize my thoughts and prioritize the needs.  I am overwhelmed with worry.  That’s when the Holy Spirit is most helpful.  Rather than articulating my concerns in a precise way…sometimes my prayers are simply my repeating “Jesus, Jesus” over and over again.  The Holy Spirit knows the desires of my heart and my being articulate is completely unnecessary.  Just as you would share your troubles with your best friend, our Heavenly Father is waiting to share our worries as well.

 

ImageMy second helpful aid is praise and worship music.  Praise songs always remind me of the magnitude of my God.  And when I praise God, He reveals Himself to me in incredible and wondrous ways.  I have a “Worship Music” mix of over 100 songs on my iPhone.  I love being in my car by myself and playing the music via my Bluetooth.  I put the music on “Shuffle” mode so I never know what song will be up next.  It is always a God thing that the songs I need most are the ones that I hear.  And, as I sing along with the radio (at the top of my lungs), my praise turns to worship and I am calmed.

 

ImageLast, but absolutely not least, is turning to God’s Word.  I have certain verses that absolutely touch my soul when I read them…no matter how many times I have read them in the past.  The following are many of the verses in the Bible which deal with worry:

 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27 New International Version) (This is one of my favorites!!)

 

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22 NIV)

 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 King James Version)

 

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1 KJV)

 

 “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2 KJV)

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

 

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 New American Standard Bible)

 

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 KJV)

 

“I lift up my eyes to the hillswhere does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV)

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 New Living Translation)

 

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

 

Image

These three things are all things we should do as part of our Christian walk but they are lifesavers when you are a worrier like me.  I hope I have encouraged all you other worriers out there.  Let me know the things you do to help you overcome your worrywart ways.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Tale of the Traveling Green Jeans

Image
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the book/movie “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”.  It’s about four best girlfriends who are heading off in different directions and make one last pact to stay connected.  They pass around a pair of second-hand jeans that miraculously fit each one of their frames.  Even more miraculous was how these jeans arrived at a time when they were each at a moment of crisis and needed to feel their connection with their friends.

I recently bought a pair of pale green jeans and I was taken back to another time in my life.  Many years ago, I owned a similar pair of pale green jeans.  They were somewhere between a mint and a lime green.  Oh, how I loved those jeans.  Whenever I put them on I felt sexy, sassy, feisty, and empowered!  And, you have to understand that I wasn’t a dainty little thing.  I think those green jeans were a size 16!!  They might even have been a size 18.  But, whatever the size, when I was wearing those green jeans and my Cherokee brand platform shoes, I was woman…hear me roar!!

Unfortunately, there reached a time when I outgrew those pants.  But, rather than throw them away, I passed them on to best friend, Judy Jarred Comford.  Judy was another  “plus sized” woman.  It didn’t take long before she also discovered the power of those pants.  In fact, whenever Judy was feeling down, her brother, Jeff, would say, “Judes, put on your green jeans and let’s go out.”

Over the years, as our size fluctuated, Judy and I passed those jeans back and forth…and back and forth.  We must have each had them in our possession at least four or five times.  Sadly, there reached a point where we realized our favorite pants were too worn and no longer in style.  It was time to say goodbye to the green jeans.

Image

The pants were something that we shared and they reflected the ebb and flow of our friendship.  Judy and I became close friends during our senior year of high school.  We discovered that we were kindred spirits when we found that we had much in common.  Both of us came from households headed by an abusive father.  That wasn’t something that one could share very openly as most people just didn’t understand or relate to it.

Image
But, there were also many positive things that drew us together.  We both loved to sing and were avid readers.  Over the years, it was common for us to pass books on to each other.  I still have copies of books which have Judy’s name written in the flyleaf.  Judy got me hooked on soap operas…first, with “Dark Shadows” and then, “General Hospital” and “One Life to Life”.  We would stay awake all night as she filled me in on the back-story of each soap so I could immediately start watching with a clear understanding of what was going on and who was doing what to and with whom.

 Judy was the one I asked to be the godmother of my daughter.  It was the best way I could show her how much she meant to me.

 Image
Judy is also the one who got me though the devastation of my divorce from my first husband.  We separated from our husbands within a month of each other.  Divorce is a horrendous experience and it can be immobilizing.  It is often described as being similar to experiencing a death.  And, that is so true.  It is the death of a relationship, as well as dreams for the future.

Judy and I both got through those dark days because of the support of each other.  When one of us was down, the other was there to support and encourage her.  When one was feeling unlovable and unattractive, the other would be there to tell her what pond scum we had been married to.  I often describe my first husband this way…”I used to worship the ground he slithered on.”  It may not have been the truth, but it helped get through those bad periods if we could laugh.  And, laugh we did.

Image
During those first months when my daughter would go for visitation with her dad, I would spend the night with Judy at her apartment.  I was afraid of the dark and frightened to spend the night alone.  So, we hung out together and had some great, crazy times.

Because I married so young, I never went to bars or clubs dancing…not ever!  But, Judy and I were now ‘single ladies’ and had some fun times together.  In those days, there was actually a ‘Talent Show’ circuit in S. California and Judy was a very talented country singer.  There was a different talent show at a different country bar every night of the week.  There were actually a stable of regulars that performed and that we got to know.  I was Judy’s biggest fan (besides her mother who often joined us.) 

Image
I remember that the craziest thing we ever did was to drive to San Francisco over one Labor Day weekend.  This trip is what cemented our “best friends forever” status.  We left after work on Friday and returned home in the wee hours on Monday morning.  We had almost no money but we had the absolute best time of our lives. 

One of our goals was to go to the “Top of the Mark”…a restaurant on the top floor of the Mark Hopkins hotel.  We had heard that the view of San Francisco was spectacular.  We couldn’t afford dinner but we figured a drink at the bar would be as good.  After walking for what seemed like forever in high heels, we finally flagged down a cab to take us the rest of the way.  The fare came to exactly $1.37.  I gave the cab driver two dollars and told him to keep the change.  That led to Judy exclaiming loudly, “Whoa…big spender!” which caused even the cabbie to crack up.  From then on, whenever the other would splurge on something outrageous, we could say, “Whoa…big spender.”   And, as for the view at “The Top of the Mark”…it was a typical foggy, San Francisco evening and we couldn’t see a thing.  But, it really didn’t matter because we had created a memory which would last forever.

 Judy and I had other key phrases which meant so much more than what we said.  For example, if one of us tried on something that wasn’t particularly flattering, the other would say, “I’m sure you’ll be very happy with it.”  That translated into, “That makes you look fat…put it back.”  We could even communicate with just a look. 

 Judy was the first one (after my daughter) that we told when Bob and I got engaged.  And she stood up for me when we got married.  A few years later, I was thrilled to do the same for her.  I sobbed throughout her entire wedding ceremony…not because I was sad…but because I was so happy she had finally found her perfect life partner.

Image
We spoke the same language and considered ourselves ‘sisters’.  We were both the only girls in our family so we ‘chose’ each other to be our sister.  And like sisters, we often fought.  I don’t think there was anyone who could hurt me as deeply as Judy and I know I wounded her on many occasions as well.  Sometimes, we wouldn’t speak to each other for months.  But, it never really mattered.  Even when we weren’t speaking, I knew that she would be there for me if I needed her and I know she knew that about me as well.  There was really no one who knew my history better than Judy.

 Judy passed away almost 7 years ago at the age of 56.  She had suffered many years from several debilitating and disabling health conditions.  One of those conditions by itself would not have been fatal, but because of the magnitude of them combined, her poor body was just too worn out.  I was the one who told her that she was dying and that she had to make some decisions.  She died 5 days later.

I’ve often wondered if she thought I was being unkind because of my calm demeanor in delivering the news.  She was really surprised by my words because she always thought she would get better.  My heart was breaking inside, but I knew her husband couldn’t bring himself to tell her.  And, she hadn’t heard what the doctor’s had been telling her.  I wanted her to be in control of what happened.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  And, even though I knew her death was imminent, I was completely devastated when it happened.   I had thought we had more time.

 Don’t we always think we will have more time?

Image
Fast forward to a week ago when I bought a new pair of green jeans.  I’m sad that I won’t be able to pass them on to Judy.  But, they are a size 12!!  I’ve maintained this size for almost a year now and it’s my goal to stay this way.  So, instead of outgrowing these jeans, each time I wear them, I will remember what I shared with a remarkable, one-of-a-kind friend.

Image

Me, in my size 12 green jeans!