I worry. About many things. I bet you worry too–at least about some things. Sometimes I think we should define humans not as homo sapiens (wise one) but as homo anxietas (worried one!)
What do I worry about? Sometimes small things: Will my casserole turn out? Will I run into road construction on my drive to Cincinnati?… Will my blood pressure be good again?… Will my car behave?
Sometimes I worry about big things: The physical health of all my loved ones… the current political atmosphere… climate change… the future of the Catholic Church…. all those people who have no access to safe drinking water… human trafficking… the opioid crisis… world peace… a possible nuclear catastrophe.
How do I carry on with life against a backdrop of such worries? I could deny or minimize my worries. I could say things like, “My loved ones have access to good health care… God will take care of us… Science will save us… Our country has been divided before… We’ve had nuclear warheads for decades and there’s never been an all-out nuclear war.”
Or I could dull myself to the pain of my anxieties. Isn’t this one reason people become addicted to alcohol or other drugs? Or addicted to food, excessive work, or even the internet? Such addictions can begin as a temporary escape from our worries and anxieties–until our addiction itself becomes an even greater reality to worry about.
But I could also try to see my worry in a more positive light. Why do we humans worry? Because we care. We care about someone or something. A certain amount of worrying is pretty normal, therefore, because normal people care about things. Excessive worry, however, is not healthy. It can impede our freedom to act, to do good. Worry can also distract us from the life-giving goodness and beauty that surround us. In addition, excessive worry can drain our energy and put us in a serious funk.
And finally, we can bring our worries to God in our prayer. Rather than denying these worries, we could ask: What might my worries be urging me to do? How might I get involved in a situation or problem that I am worried about? Facing our anxieties is also an opportunity to renew our faith and trust in God. Without denying our worries, we can view them against the backdrop of God’s unending love and care for us.
On a scale of 1-10 (1 meaning I hardly ever worry and 10 meaning I worry a great deal) where do you fall?
What helps you to deal with your worries or anxieties?
Has your worry ever urged you to do something or to get more involved with a person, issue, or situation?
PS: I ask your prayers for a retreat I will be facilitating this weekend at Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center in Villa Maria, PA. The theme is “Hanging onto Hope in Our Imperfect World.” Thank you very much!
I reached into the bluegrass-country music genre for this song by Alison Krauss. It’s called “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.” Krauss began singing publicly at age 10. Thirty years later, at the height of her career, she stepped up to a microphone to sing, and nothing came out. She was eventually diagnosed with dysphonia, a vocal disorder. She overcame this setback and released another solo album in 2017. Her experience and this song fits perfectly with the theme of this reflection and with the season of autumn. I hope you like it.
Now it’s your turn to respond to this reflection and/or song. Don’t be shy!