Jesus said: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. From Matthew 6
So, here’s my favorite comment about worry. My husband Jerry (not a worrier by nature) says to me: “You worried about that for days, and nothing bad happened.” My response: “See? It worked!”
He finds this annoying. I find it annoying that someone can be “not a worrier by nature.” Doesn’t seem natural at all to me.
I’m not even sure birds are the best example of not worrying. The ones I watch seem to fuss and worry a lot. They worry about the neighbor’s cat, and swoop down to peck the marauder on the noggin. They worry about the windstorm shaking their nest loose, and reinforce it over and over and over. (If they’d ever read The Three Little Pigs maybe they’d build their nests out of bricks instead of straw.)
Alfred Hitchcock made a movie called The Birds. It’s about a town that was overtaken by, yes, birds. Just plain, black birds. It started out with just a few birds who came down the chimney of someone’s home, and it escalated to birds who attacked people and chased them down the street. It doesn’t sound that scary, but when my mother finally let me watch it, it totally freaked me out. It gave me something new to worry about: organized bird attacks.
Like I needed something new to worry about. Please. I’ve thought maybe I should get a set of those “worry beads” people use in some cultures, but I’m worried I’d lose them.
Here we have one of Jesus’ more challenging statements in the sermon on the mount. At least it’s challenging for those of us who are not natural optimists. He does make a good point, though. Never, to my knowledge, did anyone live longer because of worrying about it. As a matter of fact, worry increases stress, which can actually shorten one’s life.
Jesus’ last statement in this passage is the one that speaks to me: Don’t worry about tomorrow, because you can’t even imagine what might happen then. Just limit your worries to today, which brings its own troubles.
Now that I can relate to, and maybe even practice. If I can just confine my worry to the things that need to be done today, and try not to let the concerns of all the tomorrows consume me, my nights might be more restful, and I might be able to do the things I need to do without being so preoccupied about what might happen. Maybe my worry is really about control—I’d like to control the future. Since that’s not possible, I resort to worrying about it instead. It doesn’t get much more unhealthy than that. I hereby resolve to try to take Jesus’ words to heart, and to let tomorrow be tomorrow.
I’m definitely a work in progress on the worrying thing, but letting tomorrow be tomorrow has some possibilities for me, if I can let it sink into my soul.
Over this past weekend I was walking through the house and heard a dove cooing. The sound was nearby, which is odd since we don’t have any trees close to the house. I looked around and saw the dove sitting on the window sill. It was eyeballing me in what I perceived to be a suspicious manner. I’ve decided not to worry about the situation yet, but I am going to keep an ear out for any sounds of fluttering wings near the chimney.
We’ll see what happens tomorrow.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2011