I was awakened much earlier that what I would have preferred this morning. My thoughts were churning like the waters on the receiving end of Niagara’s flurry. It was anxiety. Concern. Worry. About what? It doesn’t really matter to this little rant. Most of us suffer from the worry disease. It has always been a rampant epidemic plaguing humanity probably from the beginning. Whatever the case, that was me this morning.
I hauled myself out of bed, knowing that staring at a dark ceiling while ruminating over my worry was not a good use of conscious time. I prepped some coffee. The smell of it was a nice distraction. Then I plopped myself down at our dining room table with my coffee, journal, and Bible. Time to talk about this to one who is a tad bit larger then me.
I wrote about this in my journal saying things like, “…I am worrying about ‘tomorrow’ even though today has enough things to worry about.” I realized that this came from Matthew 6 so I grabbed my Bible and figured reading this stuff would be of some encouragement.
Confession time. I’m trying to learn Spanish. I’ve been using an app on my phone called Duolingo and I’ve got a 36-day steak going in my consistency. This app “told” me that I’m actually 9 percent fluent. I figured this means that I can go to Tijuana and say just enough things in Spanish to get shot. In fact, I don’t even know how to say ‘don’t shoot’ in Spanish. Even as I write this I find myself worrying about it. I confess this because I am using a Spanish/English Bible, even though I barely what I’m doing.
So, there I am reading the English in verse 25: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” Then I looked over at the Spanish side: “Por eso les digo: No se preocupen por su vida…” That stopped me in my tracks. The translator used the word ‘preocupen’ for ‘worry’ in the sentence. Knowing that worry was talked about a few verses later I looked down. Sure enough. ‘Preocupen’ was used again.
“That word looks strangely like ‘preoccupy’ to me,” said I with a streak of profound intelligence shooting through my skull. So I looked up the Spanish root word ‘preocupar’ in my dictionary. It said, “1. [v] concern. 2. [v] preoccupy. 3. [v] worry; cause worry to.”
That’s my issue, and I suspect I’m not alone. Whatever my worry is becomes that which preoccupies my mind, my entire being many times. It swirls through me like a hurricane. And like a hurricane it has the tendency to destroy other good things. Things like peace I suppose.
What’s my answer to this worry/preoccupation thing? I don’t know about you. I’m not Tony Robbins or the Dalia Lama or Pope Francis or Ned Flanders. But each time I go back to the passage in Matthew 6 and do what it says, I find a sense of rest and peace come over me. No, it won’t take the issues of tomorrow away. But there will always be issues in tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, etc.
Another issue I have is to spend more time worrying than working. I realize that a number of these worry issues can be handled by simple hard work. When I do this I find that I’m so tired at the end of the day, sleep seems to take care of itself.
I’m of the Christian ilk so I add an extra element to this. (Feel free to jump to the end if this sort of thing is not your bag.) Jesus was saying those words about worry. He also said to “…seek first the kingdom of God…” a bit further on. Jesus’ constant message while here was, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That means that wherever I go I must bring with me the “peace on earth” promised by the angel before and at the birth of Jesus. I am a messenger of peace, of reconciliation, of joy. The kingdom of heaven is not worry. It is not dissention. It is not strife. It is not shooting up a Planned Parenthood. In fact, Jesus’ only real anger was at the church when the church was abusing its power.
I also realize that Jesus did suffer from what might be construed as worry and that it may have been hard for Jesus to follow his own words when praying in Gethsemane’s garden, sweating drops of blood. But maybe not. His request could maybe be paraphrased as, “Hey, if there is ANY other way to accomplish this salvation of the world thing, could we do that instead? Whatever the case, I’ll do what needs to be done.”
The rant is over. Ultimately it is easy to say, “Don’t worry.” It is harder to follow. So I will go with my Spanish speaking friends, using their encouragement when they translate, “Por eso les digo: No se preocupen por su vida.”