I used to read a book to my children when they were young, simply entitled, “We’re going on a bear hunt.” It was about a family literally going on a bear hunt, very repetitive, but quite catchy. The story took the family through many different terrains, some of them more challenging than others, all with the purpose of trying to avoid the big bad bear. But, no matter which terrain the family faced, they always uttered the same thing, “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, oh no! We gotta go through it!” So cute, but isn’t this saying, so true in life? Life is full of situations that cause us to feel afraid, that cause us to worry. All things, we just can’t seem to avoid. Funny thing is the family goes through so much to avoid the bear and comes home only to meet the bear in their own home!
So, why do we worry? Does it really protect us? Does it really give us the control we seek in an uncertain situation? Well some would argue that by better being able to predict the outcomes we face, it puts us more in control, to avoid a “preventable” negative outcome we have “told” ourselves we can’t handle. With that said, how come worry doesn’t make us feel better then?
Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves fixating on a worry that has no foreseeable solution; it’s just a worry that we find hard to swallow if it were to come true. This type of worry exhausts us and has no end. We keep coming back to the same thought, that inevitably leads us down a dark path.
Next time you face a worry, try to decide whether it’s a productive one. How do you know? Well, I like to go by the rule that if you can come up with a way to solve the problem or brainstorm a solution to your worry, than it’s a productive one. For example, “I am worried about this exam/doing my taxes/getting my work done,” can I solve that problem or brainstorm a solution? Yes, of course, study, make a plan to get your taxes or work done! Productive worry is the type that motivates us toward reaching our goals. It’s a necessary mechanism that gets us moving towards our greater purpose.
Where we struggle is in getting caught up in a web of worry about situations that have no foreseeable solution. The truth is, God has equipped us with everything we need to survive a storm and we must remember that storms are a part of this life. No amount of checking, planning, studying, reassurance seeking, worrying or stressing can help us avoid certain negative outcomes. But what we do know is that Christ’s love for us, and immense mercy has given us everlasting life with Him. During this season of lent, let go of your worries and remember that God is always with you. He is with you in the love of people He has placed around you to love you through the hard times. He is with you when you go to bed at night and connect with His love in prayer. He is with you when you see the beauty of the world around you in nature. He is with you when you slow down to breathe and meditate on the peace that only He can bring. He is always with you.