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“We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read.”
― Abraham Lincoln

When I moved into my humble home some twenty years ago, the previous owners had cleared out all of their belongings except for a clock over the refrigerator. It doesn’t keep time properly and I wanted to get rid of it, but the cord had been built into the trim in the kitchen. So if I want to get rid of the clock, I’d have to take apart the kitchen molding. I kept thinking I’d eventually take care of it when we renovated the kitchen, but that didn’t happen. Meanwhile, that clock has been running all these years, showing the wrong time.

Sometimes I’d look at that clock and it would loom large over my head, even though it’s a small object. It would bother me that I couldn’t get rid of the darn thing. That would lead me to worry about all the other little annoying things in need of repair around the house. Before I knew it, I’d spent hours thinking of things I couldn’t resolve and it had left me in an agitated state. Certainly not in a place of peace.

So often, we wear ourselves out working on things that don’t serve us. The way I see it, anxiety is a full-time job for most of us. It’s like running in place. We expend a lot of energy and end up getting nowhere.

In a previous post, I wrote about a spiritual writer named Bhagavan Das, who said, “Worrying is praying for what you don’t want.”

In a spiritual sense, prayer is a panacea. It covers everything and opens the door to God’s grace when a situation has been concerning you.

But on a practical level, I believe that prayer is a team effort. A two-part process.  We ask, then we act. If there’s a goal that’s important to us, we know God gave us two feet for a reason: to walk toward it, and to the best of our ability, to get it done.

Maybe it’s actually three parts, now that I think about it. The last part is the hardest. It’s… letting go.

Once we’ve prayed about a problem and done everything we can to make it better, that’s when it’s time to release it into God’s hands. Ask for what you want. Act to make it happen. The only thing left to do is to release it and send it on its way with a hearty, heartfelt: Amen.

I account my woes anatomically. I know that churning feeling in my stomach is worry — worry about my sister who is suffering, and my mother who, like me, holds her troubles inside instead of hanging them out for everyone to see, like a clothesline of consternation. It makes my mother unwell, too, and at her age, that’s a problem. Me, I’m young. I’ve got plenty of years of worry left in me.

I keep thinking about Psalm 22, particularly the line that says, “I can count all my bones.” I would have to be considerable thinner to count my bones, but I still relate to the line. My problems are under my skin, so deep that sometimes I forget them. My stomach hurts, so I must be worried about something. What was it? Oh yeah. Count those bones.

And yes, I know, worry is an unnecessary emotion. I think SueBE once said, “It’s like praying for something you don’t want.” Not just a waste of time, but self-defeating, too. I don’t want to pray for something I don’t want. But try telling my stomach that.

It’s not easy shifting faith from soul to tummy. My tummy doesn’t reason well, for one thing. But then I recall that Psalm 22 doesn’t say, “Just stop worrying.” It says, “Get it out.” Yell! Cry! Craft insane metaphors about bulls that are really like lions! Call on God because you can. You don’t have to suck it all in.

So that’s what I’m gonna do. Hey! God! I know there’s not that much on my plate, not compared to many other people who are suffering far more than I. But I’m small, and I’m selfish, and I’m scared. You, of all people, know that. So please, send me some succor. Soothe my sore tummy with some answers and a big ol’ splash of hope. And help my mom and my sis and all the rest of us who internalize our troubles to give up hoarding and let them all out. There’ll be an awful racket, but you have big ears. You can handle it.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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