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Good Worry?

Waking up yesterday, I immediately felt the weight of some things I am carrying infiltrate my mind. It didn't take long for me to feel overwhelmed before my feet even hit the floor. I would love to tell you I noticed this immediately, but I only noticed it after God showed me I was carrying it.

Truthfully, worry and I are so well acquainted, I often don't notice the weight. Sometimes I confuse responsibility with worry as if my worrying somehow makes me a more responsible person. Worrying makes me feel as if I am in control and often disguises itself as wisdom. It seems anti-naive and can even mask itself as love. I have always felt that care and worry go hand in hand. I didn't realize worry was masquerading as goodness in my life. This is especially true for me when it comes to mothering. I actually thought I was supposed to worry.

Like I do everyday, I grabbed my Bible and journal and headed to my big, oversized chair. This has become my altar and cathedral of sorts; the place where I so often lay down what I'm carrying and let God trade out my perspective for His. His is always better. I always come away feeling deeply loved and that I also have a lot to learn.

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Not even realizing I was worrying, I felt God whisper to my heart: "Remember- pray your today's worries. (It seems I just wrote about that last week). Don't worry alone. Worrying alone is worrying. Worrying with Me is praying and it's laying down your fears and picking up up my perspective."

Truthfully, sometimes worrying is easier than praying because worrying puts me in control, but praying puts God in control. Sometimes I trust myself more than I trust God.

As I sat with Him, He began to show me that worry is not benign but leads to fear and will always do what I don't want it to do. Not one of our kids appreciates me worrying about them. This is when I get intense and very wordy; two things that make teens and young adults head to their rooms quickly. I listen less and talk more at the precise moments they need me to listen more and talk less.

Fear and love are always in opposition to one another. Worry is not my duty or reponsibility, but disintegrates relationships. He challenged me to not mix up worrying and caring for. Truthfully, I didn't understand because in my mind worrying WAS 'caring for.' I cannot know this for a fact about everyone, but I strongly suspect that our inability to love well is usually because of fear. Fear kills love and the two cannot co-exist. Fear responses are rarely loving.

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Several years ago, I was in a tough spot internally and I felt God whisper to my heart, "I'm not worried about you." I didn't understand because I was worried about me, but the words had a settledness to them. In that moment, those words were the most dignifying I could have heard. I didn't fully understand why they meant so much, but I did understand I felt a large weight lift. I felt the potency of the words fill my heart. I felt dignity. Pressure I felt to get it right dissipated and instead I felt deeply loved and understood. Held. I felt His bigness and could settle because He wasn't anxious. I was, but He wasn't. He wasn't worried because He knew what to do and nothing makes Him anxious - not even us.

Zephaniah 3:17 NLT For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Only yesterday did I start to comprehend why the words He spoke years ago meant so much.

According to, some synonyms for worry are anguish, apprehension, concern, doubt, fear, headache, misery, misgiving, annoyance, distress, nag, perplexity , plague and pest.  I don't know about you, but I don't want anyone to feel these things about me. All of these words are burden words and have a sense of fear or a feeling of being frenzied and alarmed. When I feel these about someone else, I struggle to love them well. Even in my mess or my pain or my heartache or my confusion, I want a God who is strong enough to not be worried. Others do too. Love and worry have a hard time existing side by side.

Worry and care were so intertwined in my mind, it was hard for me to comprehend the difference between not being worried and indifference. This is why it was so hard for me to take the verses about not worrying seriously. I knew not to worry about certain things but gave myself a pass about others. I unknowingly had 'okay to worry about' categories and 'not okay to worry about' categories. I suppose this is why we are all currently like half renovated houses. God has done a lot of work and still has a lot to do. It didn't occur to me that my 'okay to worry about' category should be blank. 

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I began to see there is a vast difference between being worried and caring for. Synonyms for 'care for' that gives are to accommodate, put up, feed, harbor, house, lodge, safe keeping, attentiveness, awareness and look after. This looks a lot more like how God responds to us. There is a sense of intentionality and an absence of fear. Confidence that can calm a soul and is strong enough for whatever that soul may hold.

When it comes to worrying about others - especially those in our care, it comes down to this. Do we trust God with them? Can we trust God with them? Do we really believe He is big enough and strong enough? With the situation I was carrying yesterday, I was asking God what I should do. He said, "Just pray." I asked, "What else?" He responded, "Nothing," and then began to show me I did not really trust Him enough to just pray. I wanted to pray and...

Sometimes He will ask us to do things, say things or address things, but the bottom line is, do we really trust Him enough? Do we really believe He cares deeply for us and for those we love? Do we trust Him enough to give us the wisdom to know how to care for instead of worry about? Can we trust Him to teach us how to do that? Will we actually walk in step with Him or would we rather handle situations on our own and with our own wisdom? Are we brave enough to come near and walk with Him moment by moment? Situation by situation? Only when we listen can we know if we should 'just pray' (we all know 'just' doesn't belong in front of pray, but so often we functionally act like it does) or do something else as well. God always knows what we need as well as the ones we love. 

Obviously, we are not big like God, but He has invited us to come to Him for wisdom. We aren't left on our own. When we hide ourselves in Him and learn to 'cast our cares on Him', He trades out our worries for His perspective and gives us the ability to respond as He would rather than how we want to or are inclined to. When God is our source, we too can respond to others by caring for them rather than worrying about them. 

James 1:5 (NLT) If you heed wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

God is highly attentive and aware of what is going on in our lives and this can give us comfort. We are deeply cared for and He knows what to do about every single thing in our lives. There is not one thing He is perplexed by or at a loss about what to do. He is never confused or anxious. Anxiety only comes in the face of uncertainty, but He is always certain about what needs to be done and fully confident in His ability to do it. 

Let's remember what is true: "Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you." I Peter 5:7 (NLT)

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