Worry

Worry.

When you or a loved one has cancer, worry is omnipresent, whether you acknowledge it or not. Maybe it’s deep inside your unconscious, hidden from the outside world by your smile or your breezy manner. You can be worried and not look worried. “Oh”, people would say to me when I ran into them at the grocery store, “I wasn’t too worried about you because you all look so happy in the CaringBridge posts!” Or, “I saw J and he looks so good.” {Did they mean he looks so good–so handsome–just because he is? Or did they mean “so good for a cancer patient”?} Well anyway, that’s beside the point. The point is, our demeanor may belie our fears, but it doesn’t make them go away. And when our fears go unacknowledged even by ourselves, they can seep their way into our decision-making process without us even realizing it. It’s basic Psych 101. Just because you ignore an emotion doesn’t mean it’s not there. And if you keep on supressing it, it’ll bubble back up one way or the other. We’re better off acknowledging our fears openly to loved ones so those same fears don’t come waltzing into our life uninvited and wreak more havoc. Who needs that?

Big worry: Your husband has been diagnosed with Stage 3B small intestinal cancer. Can he beat the odds? How accurate are the statistics? How will my child cope? How will I cope?

Little worry: Do I have time to make dinner tonight? Will I make it to yoga class on time?

Medium worry: Everything in between.

Most people worry sometimes. Others almost never worry and some worry relentlessly. I fall in the sometimes group (in case you’re wondering). I like to think my occasional worry is rooted in compassion and concern for others, but I may be giving myself more credit than is due. I could analyze my and your worry endlessly, but, you know, there are books written about this very subject like (off the top of my head) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, The Worry Cure, Worry Less, Live More or other such titles that may already line your bookshelf. This isn’t the kind of worrying I’m interested in examining today.

What I’m talking about is the insidious kind of worry that, left to its own devices, can multiply until it begins to infringe on another person’s rights. For example, do we worry more about our own bank account than we do about the policies that create an environment where people working 40+ hours a week can’t survive on minimum wage? Do we worry more about our heating bill than we do about our planet?  Do we spend more time worrying about the balance on our money market statement than we do worrying about whether the companies we are investing in harm rather than benefit the greater good? Do we worry more about our child’s chance of getting into a “good” college than we do about the child we don’t know who’s studying in the dark because the electricity was cut off again? And how is it that we worry more about how we’re going to retire comfortably in 20 years than we worry about our fellow citizens who have trouble putting food on the table today?

And then, there’s this: We worry that a child in Wisconsin might be attacked at school by a grizzly bear more than we worry that unfettered access to guns across America is killing more Americans, including children, every day than have ever been killed by a grizzly bear the world over.

We worry that immigrants will take away our jobs rather than rejoicing in the beauty that is the integration of many cultures and people woven into the one country we love.

I worry that my children and your children will sense our fear and that hate will take up residence in their heart.

My hope for the next four years is that we, as citizens of the United States of America, will take our illusive fears, acknowledge and examine them, then trade them in for concrete, positive actions that can free us from worry and fear and keep America great (again).

I’m weary of worry. Are you?

 

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Go out into the world in peace. Have courage! Hold fast to that which is good. Return no person evil for evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, help the suffering. Honor all people. Love and serve the Lord your God, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Benediction from my childhood church

 


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