I’ll never forget that Christmas Eve in the Los Angeles basin. I was eight years old and we had gone to my grandparents’ home for our celebration. When we left their home around 9 PM,
dense fog had socked-in the area—so thick we couldn’t see within ten feet of the house. We climbed into the car and headed down familiar streets for the thirteen miles to our home—slowly … very slowly. My mother got behind the wheel and my father walked directly in front of the car trying to see ahead. At times, he literally disappeared into the fog and my heart leapt in my throat. I was terrified. And what made it worse was that we heard voices of people who were crying out, seemingly in pain.
“Mom!” I said, my voice rising in nervousness. “Those people need help. Do you hear them?”
“Yes, Kathy, I do,” my mom replied. “But it’s just kids playing a joke. It’s really okay, sweetie.”
I tried to calm my palpitating heart as I sat in the backseat, worried. We made it home safely that night, but I’ve never forgotten the experience.
Sometimes when I’m worried, I feel like a fog of fear and anxiety is swirling all around me, blocking out the ability to think clearly and trust God. It quickly fuels responses like complaining, grumbling, being self absorbed and selfish, or making a quick decision that isn’t led by God.
As I begin to worry, I remember that I’m a Christian and I’m not supposed to worry. So my defense mechanisms kick in. I reason:
I’m not worried, I’m just thinking.
I’m not worried, I’m just concerned.
I’m not worried, I’m just mulling over a problem.
I’m not worried, I’m just a little bothered.
But then honesty rears its unwelcome head, and I surrender.
Okay … I’m worried.
I’ve gone through this scenario many times. It’s so easy to deceive myself into thinking I’m not worried—I’m just thinking too much. Besides, don’t I need to plan just in case something terrible happens? But at a certain point, thinking, wondering, being concerned, mulling, or being bothered becomes worry. And at that point, I’m not trusting God with my whole heart.
I’m curious…what words do you call your reaction—which usually turns out to be worry? Why is it hard to use the word “worry”? I think for me it makes me think I am a “less-than” Christian because after all, Christians aren’t supposed to worry.
But calling it what it is…worry…always helps me resist it more effectively and turn my thoughts into trusting God—rather than being in denial.
So tell me what words you use to describe worry and how fast (or slow) you are able to identify what’s really happening!
(This is an excerpt from my re-released book Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries. It’s available for sale as a print and ebook/Kindle at Amazon.)