Sunday, September 6, 2009

Worrier or Warrior?

"Therefore, put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground." Ephesians 6:13

I have been a chronic worrier my entire life. Ever since I can remember I always seemed to have something to worry about. Something that felt like a pit in my stomach every time I thought about it. Some were typical childhood worries. This time of year brings back those first day of school jitters.  I would worry the whole week before if I would like my teacher, if I would make friends, or if I would get lost finding my classroom. Some worries were silly. I remember when I was nine I worried about turning ten - being double digits meant I was growing up and that scared me! Some of my worries were more serious. For example, I often worried about dying or about my family dying.

These childhood worries eventually turned into adult worries. After September 11th, I became deathly afraid of flying. Which became a problem as I lived on both coasts and flew home often to see my family (I worried that since I was the only child that moved away, my relationship with them might suffer if I didn't come home a lot).  In Connecticut I worried every time I took the train to Grand Central - you never know when a terrorist might strike.  When we lived in San Francisco, I constantly worried about the "big one" striking. And since we lived in the neighborhood that suffered the most damage in the '89 earthquake, I would often go over in my head at night what I would do if the ground started shaking. I talked about it so much that I would drive Justin crazy (who, by the way, is the complete opposite of me and worries about nothing). 

I could go on and on about all of my endless worries. You wouldn't believe them all if I told you.  You also may even be skeptical that I am a "believer" because Christians aren't supposed to worry or be anxious. Of course I knew that and memorized all the appropriate Bible verses about not worrying. Yet I still worried.  During all these years I thought I had a perfectly healthy faith.  But looking back, I question that.  Where was my trust in a sovereign God?  I prayed and I read Scripture but I looking back it is obvious that I didn't fully and completely trust God with my well-being.

I am not sure when it changed for me, but sometime during the first trimester of this pregnancy the burden of worrying became too heavy and really too time-consuming that I just sort of gave it up. After one miscarriage I realized that I really didn't have control over the number of children God had chosen to bless us with (my biggest worry is that we wouldn't be able to have any more). So I just stopped worrying about it. And a lot of other things, too. One day, when I was about 11 weeks pregnant, I remember thinking, "Wow, I haven't really spent time worrying the past few weeks." And it felt so good!  Like a huge weight I had been carrying had been lifted off of my shoulders. Those next few weeks I felt so elated about being pregnant, not worried about it as much anymore. My grandmother even commented about how happy I seemed compared to months past. 

But then my world came crumbling down around me with the horrifying news we received nearly seven weeks ago. I remember coming home and being almost in a trance the first few days I was in bed. I didn't want to watch t.v. or read.  I just wanted to lie flat and think. As I processed everything in mind - what could happen, what I wanted to happen- I was struck by the fact that there was literally nothing I could do on my own to save this baby. No medicine, no surgery, no special clinical trial would help.  I just had to wait. And while I was waiting, I figured I could do one of two things: either I could frantically worry myself to death about it, or I could trust that God had it all in His hands.  My old self would have been on autopilot for option number one. But the second option sounded so much better, so much easier, and so much more peaceful. I remember praying, "Lord, please take this burden from me. I trust you with my life and my baby's life."

For the first time in a long time worry has been defeated.  I surely do have moments of panic and bouts of fear, but the chronic worry is not casting its huge ugly shadow over this situation. Instead it's God's grace and mercy, and His peace that passes my understanding of this situation.

And as I lay here I almost want to chuckle over the fact that none of the things that I worried so much about during my life ever happened. Instead, something happened to me that I had never even heard of! I wasted so much time worrying about things that were so out of my control.  Looking back, I just want to shake myself and say "Stop it, Lee! Enjoy life when it is good. Concentrate on your faith in God so that when something does happen, you will be prepared to fight the battle." All you fellow worriers about there: learn from me!  Remember Jesus' words, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Luke 12:25)

I can't go back and change the past but I hope my chronic worry is over for good. My prayer for when life returns to normal is this: that this experience won't turn me into a more developed worrier but rather a warrior- in my faith, in my prayer life, and in my knowledge of God's word.  For putting on the "armour of God" is the only way to truly fight these battles.

1 comment:

  1. You are so right. And I have to say, I have been having a lot of the same thoughts lately. And even though it seems impossible at times, we absolutely have to celebrate life and enjoy the good times. How miserable to worry all the time and miss out on the many blessings we have been given. I pray that like you, I will be a warrior as well.
    Jessica Ritchie