Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why Do I Let Myself Worry?

This is a post that I needed to write and contemplate. It's one I need to believe, even though it's very hard to do so right now. I feel like a complete loser as I write this, because I just received my seventh rejection letter in one week. Seven “we were very impressed with your qualifications, but we selected another candidate for this position” letters, I must be a real winner. (Sarcasm, if you couldn't guess.) I am trying to keep my faith and believe that God really will direct me, and He will provide for me. It gets tougher every day to keep believing that something good will come out of all of this.
I've spent an awful lot of time in my life worrying. I've worried about grades in school, job interviews or lack thereof, approaching deadlines, and many, many other things. I've worried about bills and expenses, rising gas prices, insurance costs, and what I did to end up in this situation. Lately, I have worried most about what I will do next, where will I go from here, and whether or not anyone will ever want to hire me.
Over the span of my lifetime, worrying accounts for hours and hours of invaluable time that I'll never get back. I've decided I need to quit worrying and look to the future but it's very hard when the future looks so bleak and uncertain. I'm not convinced that I can give up my worrying, it's a part of who I am, because if I'm not worrying about myself, I'm worrying about others. I found these four biblical reasons not to worry, and I'm hoping they will help me deal with my current situation better and maybe encourage someone who's in a similar position
1. Jesus explicitly tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that worrying accomplishes absolutely nothing. Consider Matthew 6:25-34:
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. 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 which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious 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 arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
I know Jesus is telling us what is best, and I also realize that worrying is a waste of time. But, how do you actually stop worrying? I don't have an answer. I can't bring myself to act happy all the time without a care in the world, because I do worry. I know it is a waste of energy, but I cannot seem to stop worrying. If I am not worried about my own life and future, I am worried about my friends and family.
2. Solomon tells us in Proverbs that worrying is not good for us.Worrying is destructive to us in many ways. It becomes a mental burden that can even cause us to grow physically sick. Consider Proverbs 12:25:
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
I know the medical implications of worry and stress. It is a major cause of my headaches. One of the things that my medicine for my headache does is that it allows me to sleep and to take my mind off my worries. I also know that it causes weight gain. I know that I'm a stress eater. I know that I want to sit down and drink a whole bottle of wine in hopes of forgetting my troubles for just a little while. (I don't because even one glass of wine can trigger one of my headaches.) I know that I am not the only person who turns to destructive behavior when I am stressed, but that's just it, it's destructive behavior, and we have to save ourselves from it.
3. Paul told the Philippians that worrying is the opposite of trusting God. The energy that we spend worrying can be put to much better use in prayer. Here's a little formula that I've been told to remember: Worry replaced by Prayer equals Trust. Consider Philippians 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I have certainly prayed plenty, and many people have been praying for me, but maybe I am not praying enough. In times past, when I didn't understand something, I prayed and meditated on the answer. I did this when I didn't understand my sexuality. I'd always been taught that being gay was evil, but I was not attracted to women. I was attracted to guys. I knew I wouldn't be happy alone, and I knew I'd make a woman miserable. So I prayed, and I meditated. And God delivered his answer. I am gay, and God still loves me and wants me to be happy. I just need to do that again, and realize that God does love me, He will take care of me, the right opportunity will come along, and He wants me to be happy. I just need faith.
4. Peter wrote that worrying puts our focus in the wrong direction. We are told that when we keep our eyes focused on God, we remember his love for us and we realize we truly have nothing to worry about. Consider 1 Peter 5:6-7:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
I know that God has a wonderful plan for our lives, and part of that plan includes taking care of us. Even in the difficult times, when it seems like God doesn't care, we can put our trust in the Lord and focus on his love for us, because that never wavers. God will take care of our every need, but when I read these passages, I feel guilty. I know I should put more of my faith in God. I honestly don't doubt God, and I trust Him completely, but each time I get a rejection about a job offer, especially one that I know I was well-qualified for and would have done an excellent job for the organization, I begin to doubt myself.
I don't know if I've said this on this blog before, but my current boss at the job where I volunteer, told me that when she was looking for a job that she prayed to God, “LORD, please let me get offered the job that is right for me. I need to trust in You, and Your guidance, because You know I get confused when there are choices.” So I'm putting my faith in the idea that God wants me to have patience and wait for the right one. I hope He just doesn't want me to get confused. Besides, He is providing. I finally started getting unemployment benefits, and it was a much easier process this time around. I have the love and support of my friends and family and that means the world to me, and I know I have the love and support of God. In the song “Crazy,” Patsy Cline sang, “Worry, why do I let myself worry? Wondering what in the world did I do?” And she's right (or Willie Nelson was right since he wrote the song), if I keep worrying and not putting my faith in God, then it will drive me crazy.


Susan said...

Hi Joe,

The comment from your current boss is excellent. I hope her words will help you along the way. But realize, the rejection letters would be upsetting to anyone; they have a consequence that affects income, so it is natural for you to worry. This is a human reaction. I know I can tell myself over and over, worrying will not change anything and may very well have a negative physical and mental affect, but it is so ingrained it is really a knee-jerk reaction. But I completely agree you should try to limit your worrying. Stress IS injurious and can be a huge trigger for your headaches. My best suggestion is to use meditation to calm and center yourself when your worry and stress levels rise.

I know you won't lose your faith in God, Joe. Ultimately He will guide you to where you are meant to be. You have Him and the love and support of family, friends, and your online family hoping and praying on your behalf.

As for me, now that you mentioned "Crazy" by Patsy Cline—one of my favorite songs—I know what I will be singing the rest of the day. :-) Take care, Joe.

Michael Dodd said...

I have had my share of rejection letters over the years, including ones that came after I thought I had nailed the interview. No matter how nice it is to hear how "impressed we were", that does not take away the sting of "but ..."

Years ago when I was fretting about a friend's situation and could not get it off my mind, a mentor suggested I try for 24-hours to get rid of the thought every time it came up. I was to call him then and tell him how it had worked. All that happened was I developed a headache, something I seldom suffer, and I continued to obsess.

Then he suggested that the next twenty-four hours be spent saying to God each time I thought of the problem, "Lord, take this thought away and give me peace." I was to report back the next day.

The next day I was able to report that not only did I not have a headache, I had only thought about the problem two or three times in the morning and been unbothered the rest of the day.

It helps to let God do the heavy lifting, you know. Just put in it God's hands.

Andrew Weiss said...

Someone with your intelligence and knowledge will land on their feet sooner or later. I know it is stressful and depressing, as I went through something quite similar in my own life, but I feel certain you will come out of this just fine in the long run.

Michael Dodd said...

PS -- Joe, my advice to "put it in God's hands" refers primarily to the tendency to worry. You, of course, have to continue to do your part. There is, I believe, a Russian proverb, something along the lines of "Pray to God but row for shore."

May you come safely to land!

silvereagle said...

"There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever." Mahatma Gandhi

Saw this on another site this morning and thought I would share it.

Mike said...

Great post.