The gospel reading at church last Sunday was that passage from Matthew about not worrying. You know, the one which says we are not to fret over what to eat or drink or wear because God has it all in hand. It goes on to say that worrying about these things won’t add a single hour to your span of life. And I thought I’d be quids in if it did, and as old as Methuselah. (He was the oldest guy in the Bible at 969 when he died. Think of all those candles!)
I’m an inveterate worrier. And I know I’m not alone. Even people who weren’t worriers are anxious now after eighteen months of living with Covid. And now, just to make sure everyone has at least one thing to worry about, our kindly government has thrown fuel, food and labour shortages into the mix as well, so there's easily enough worry to go round.
Sometimes when I’m worrying, it helps to focus on my capable, coping nature and leave the more, shall we say more fragile self in a comfy chair with a fortifying cup of tea and a copy of ‘Good Housekeeping’. Then I tell her that I’ll come back to her later and reassure her that she’s not abandoned, but right now, I’m focussing on knowing my strengths.
So – what do I know? Four things (there’s probably more but I won’t get ahead of myself).
I know that it is okay to relax.
· It doesn’t matter if I don’t get up until eight thirty.
· It doesn’t matter if I eat a ham sandwich as it won’t kill me.
· It doesn’t matter if I fly on a plane as it likely won’t crash and I can reach Amsterdam.
· It doesn’t matter if I read what I want to read rather than a Booker Prize winner.
· I It doesn’t matter if watch EastEnders (I’ve hardly missed an episode since 1985.)
· It doesn’t matter if I never make perfect pastry (I never make pastry).
· It doesn’t matter if I never run up a simple summer skirt of an evening or knit my grandchild a woolly bobble hat.
· It doesn’t matter if I miss my daily walk as my blood pressure won’t shoot up and my heart give out.
I know that there are always second chances. My coping side knows that shit happens in life. I know that there are no givens, no certainties, that sickness is rampant and people do not live for ever. I know that I love my husband passionately and absolutely. I know that I love my kids and my grandkids with a maternal, primal, visceral tug that can survive anything.
I know that God loves me. God is a verb and not a noun. God is, and that’s all I know. And the more I try to reach God or figure out Him or Her, the more I don’t understand. And that’s okay because certainty is more worrying than anything.
I know that I am a work in progress and contrary to what I believed for most of my life, God is working with me. I’m not unredeemable, full of sin (give or take) and outside the city wall. I’m a pilgrim on a journey and God is right there walking with me (and sometimes giving me a ride on her shoulders when the going gets tough).
So, if like me, you are a worrier, try making your own list of what you do know. It might not take the worry away, but it will certainly give it a run for its money and stop it smirking from the sidelines. And you can always read that passage in Matthew (chapter 6 vs 25-33 since you’re asking) where Jesus tells his disciples they needn’t worry. If they’d thought about it, they could have gone away and put their heads together and made a list of what they knew. Stuff like – our friend Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water, promises eternal life, tells us how much he loves us.
That could have been a starter for ten.
Take care if like me you are a worrier. Let your worry breathe so it feels heard, but don’t give it oxygen. You are stronger than you think. I’m only saying that because I have to remind myself of that daily.
Together, we’ve got this.
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