I was born with the worry gene. My grandma had it, my mother has it, my sister has it, my daughter has it and even my dog has it. It has been with me through all of my growing years. It entered into adulthood with me, accompanied me through the early years of marriage and child-raising, and is settling into the mid-life years with me. I don’t like worry, but it sure likes me.
When I was young, my mother worried about everything. We had to wear undershirts year round because mom worried we might catch a cold. We had to keep our bedrooms clean, cause she worried that her friends would think she was an unfit mother if we didn’t. I myself grew up worrying about the friends I had and if I was well liked. I worried about my looks and getting that 80’s hairstyle just right. I worried if I’d ever have a boyfriend, much less ever get married. After college graduation, I worried about my job. I worried that people wouldn’t like me if I didn’t perform well. After getting married and having children, I worried about my kid’s health, their growth, and the food I fed them. I worried about my marriage and the problems I was having. Today, I am worried that the mistakes I made will have lasting effects on my children. I worry that I worry too much and it is having an effect on my health.
Worrying is not what God has intended for us, and if you look in the Bible, you’ll find that Jesus had a lot to say about worry: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you? O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
So why do I go on worrying, when God’s word is so clear? The answer to that question worries me. As a Christian, I should have shed the worry gene a long time ago, yet I seem to hold on tightly to it. It’s like a monkey on my back. I try to shake it off, but it always jumps back on.
Actually, I really have come a long way in my walk with worry. I grew up without faith, reading scripture and prayer. I was ignorant to God’s teaching on the subject. As a young mother of two children, the Lord found me and I became a Christian. Over the years, as I have studied the Bible and have learned to surrender my struggles to God, I have shed many of my worries. However, it’s as if the monkey only lost weight, not disappeared entirely.
But I am continually learning and growing. As long as I am reading my Bible and meditating on the truth of what scripture has to say about worry, I do ok. And prayer. Prayer is where I can release my worries to God. So, be gone monkey, I don’t need you anymore!