I’m something of a worrier.
No, I’m just being modest about that. The truth is, I’m a world-class, platinum-club worrier. I can hold my own in any group of worriers. I’m really, really good.
My dream when I was young was to be a world-class athlete, but I soon realized that I had been blessed with a different gift. I worry.
And don’t get me wrong. I’ve grown to appreciate this gift. Worry has done some good things for me over the years. It made me a good student, for example. While my classmates were out having a good time, I could often be found in the library late into the night. Why? Well, I worried that if I didn’t stay late at the library, I might not get a good grade on my exam. So, worry turned out to be good for my GPA.
According to my research on worry, I’m in good company. Lots of high-achieving athletes, scientists, and artists have been worriers. Their worry has pushed them to excel. The artist Michelangelo is considered by some scholars to have worried his way to great art. Martha Stewart, an artist of a different kind, once confessed to Oprah Winfrey that she attributed much of her success to “maniacal” worry over doing well.
But worry hasn’t always been good for me. Worry has occasionally been a burden that robs my life of its enjoyment.
I’m told that I’m the classic perfectionist. I want everything I do – and everything I’m a part of – to be … well, perfect, and pursuing that goal has the sometimes-unfortunate consequence of causing me worry. So, there you go. I understand why I do it, but that doesn’t mean I can stop when I want to.
What’s most worrisome about this – look, I even worry about worrying so much – is that at root it’s a spiritual issue.
Jesus could not be more clear: “Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?’” (Luke 12:22-26)
If I had been in the crowd that day, I probably wouldn’t have raised my hand with a question, but I would have thought, “Okay, okay, I know my worry is really a lack of trust, but what am I supposed to do about it?”
Even the Apostle Paul some years later addressed the subject head on: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
“Do not be anxious about anything.” At this point in my life you’d think I’d have this one licked. But – no – I’m still working on it.
I’m beginning to see that some spiritual issues are going to take time – LOTS of time. I’m beginning to see that I might be working on this one for the rest of my life. Keeps me humble.