For many years of my life, Worrier was my middle name. In fact, the beginning of most of my thoughts started with the same two-word phrase, “What if…?” Those thoughts usually ended with me dissolving into a pile of defeated tears. During one season of my life that I refer to as the “dark years” our family was struggling in all areas of life due to a variety of unexpected hardships. Each day, my list of what if worries grew like adding cars onto the back of an already long train.
Did you know that the word worry actually means “to strangle or torture”? Worry begins when we ask what if questions about uncertain situations we can’t control. Without knowing how things will turn out, we often answer those what if questions with the worst-case scenario endings. For example, if your boss asks you to drop by her office before you leave for the day, you might begin wondering, “What if she doesn’t like the report I’ve done?” or “What if I lose my job?” Without a way to know the answer, your mind starts running a mental movie starring you. As the scenes unfold, you see yourself unemployed, unhappy, hungry and homeless on the street. By the time your mental movie ends, your heartbeat is racing, you’ve got a queasy stomach, and your entire afternoon is ruined.
Most of what we worry about won’t actually happen, but that doesn’t stop us from worrying.
In my book, Winning the Worry Battle, I identify four different types of worriers and how they act out worry in their lives.
- Silent Sufferer: stuffs their worries deep inside and doesn’t talk about them
- Mother Hen: often nags others to try to reduce stress and anxiety
- Busy Body: constant activity because unfinished tasks or projects create stress and worry
- Control Freak: maneuvers or manipulates others in order to reduce inner anxiety
Which one can you relate to? For me there was always something to be worried about so I tried to control things until God allowed a few situations in my life which I couldn’t control. That was God’s invitation to turn my fears and worries over to Him! That’s when I finally won my worry battle. I’ve since made heart-felt amends with my family members because my worry deeply affected their lives.
No matter what kind of worrier you are, I think you already know this: worrying doesn’t work. Like the saying, “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” Jesus pointed this out to us long ago. In Matthew 6, he was talking to a group of people on a hillside. I think Jesus knew there were all types of worriers standing and listening to him that day. In verse 27 (NLT), Jesus challenges us with the following words:
“Can all of your worries add a single moment to your life?”
My friend, make today the last day that you let fear or worry steal the best and precious moments of your life!