"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 than food, and the body more than clothes?"
One of the more popular songs from my teenage years was from the singer Jewel called Hands. In it she has a lyric, “If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be: we’re all ok. Not to worry, ‘cause worrying is wasteful and useless in times like these. So don’t be made useless.”
Jewel is repeating what Jesus was desperately trying to help us understand two thousand years ago.
I look back on my life and all the things that kept me up at night or caused me stress and I realize that what I feared most never actually happened. I may have faced a consequence but it was never as bad as my imagination envisioned.
I know I shouldn’t worry but somehow doubt, fear, and worry quietly creep into my brain and before you know it I am off to the races with anxiety galore!
Most recently I experienced this during my ordination weekend at Annual Conference in Billings, Montana.
Several months ago, I wrote a spoken word to introduce myself to the clergy who would be voting on me. I loved it, Jenna loved it, and it was very easy for me to memorize because it really was created out of my soul and energy.
Fast forward to a couple nights before I was supposed to give my introduction, when I started having doubts and worry. “I can’t do this,” I started telling myself.
What if they hate it?
What if they are offended that I used a medium that means a lot to me but may not mean much to them?
What if I forget key lines and no one laughs or no one understands what I am trying to say?
My anxiety and worry were so high that I began getting ready an alternative introduction; one much more basic and to the point.
It wasn’t until just a few moments before I was called up that my friend said “You have to do your spoken word. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Don’t worry about what they feel, hear, or how they respond; just be yourself out there.” It was enough to give me the courage to deliver my spoken word and it resonated with many people. I am so thankful I gave that introduction to my clergy peers.
Jesus knows that worrying won’t produce anything but heartburn, high blood pressure, and ulcers. Nothing productive comes from worrying about things.
Jesus isn’t saying don’t care about changing the things we can change and should change; Jesus is simply saying don’t waste our energies on worry that stems from a lack of faith. God will provide our needs.
If you are in the midst of worry and anxiety about uncertainty; know that God is there and God’s plan is perfect. Remember that worrying is useless and won’t do anything but cause you stress and harm. Trust in God, lean into your faith, and know that life is full of nuance and challenges.
Rev. Lou Ward
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