The past couple of days have been pretty tough. As you may know, I'm starting a new adventure on Monday and it feels like Monday's never going to get here. ...Or it's going to be here too soon. The truth is that I don't do well in the waiting, whether what lies ahead is good or bad, exciting or exhausting, promising or painful. It's the waiting itself, and never the thing, that is agonizing.
Because somewhere in the waiting, the worry begins.
I don't really have a reason to worry, except that there's really nothing else to do. I have my stuff prepared. I've spent this week working hard and knocking out a few projects and starting a few more (and an unexpected one last night popped up that will take me the rest of today, since God loves to keep me busy). I'm ready for Monday. And it feels like, even though they aren't here yet, all the pieces will be in place. For instance, I found out this week that my expected gas bill to get me back and forth may as much as double...while I'm sitting on just enough cash to get me through two weeks. I have no reason to worry. The way God's drawn this whole thing together, I trust that the money is going to be there. But in the waiting, I think we start to think of all the things that could still go wrong. Or have gone wrong.
Which is why worry is its own unique emotion. I've been racking my brain since making this realization last night, and I can't think of another single emotion we have both forward and backward. I can't think of another thing that draws us both into the past and the future without an encouragement to balance it out.
A few examples: we regret something we've done in the past, but a promise of redemption draws us forward. We never have a promise for the past. We harbor uncertainty over the future, but our past provides a foundation for truth. We're never uncertain about the past. We lament what happened yesterday, but we hope for tomorrow. We never hope for yesterday. There's always something in the opposite direction to balance out what we're feeling toward either the past or the future. Except with worry. We worry for tomorrow and we worry about yesterday. We worry about everything!
That's why I think worry is so insidious. Because there's nothing to draw us out of it. When I worry about having enough for tomorrow, I simultaneously worry about what I spent yesterday. When I worry about missing a moment tomorrow, I worry about all the other moments I might have missed. When I worry about what a person will say to me tomorrow, I am also worrying about everything they've ever said to me, wondering if I missed something subtle somewhere that changes everything.
Worry makes us worry, and there is no hope or promise or redemption that draws us out of worry the way they draw us out of other emotions. That's why I think Jesus was so concerned about worry. It's a trap. Once you get in the worry warp, you can't get out.
Then what's the answer to the problem of worry?
It is bold trust and confident assurance. I say that full knowing that neither takes away worry. Instead, they take away worry's power because you already know the truth. You put your trust in what you know and step courageously into the new horizon, trusting despite worry. It's not easy. It doesn't feel like it's working. Ever. But a few steps down the road, you realize that you took control of your worry and got out of that vortex. You find yourself on solid ground, on a bedrock of trust and confidence. On a foundation of faith.
I have no reason to worry. I know that. But that's not enough to stop me. As the next few days continue to pass, I will keep thinking of all the things that could still go wrong and all the things that have gone wrong. It's natural, and I can't seem to get out of it. But it doesn't control me. When the time comes, I will step boldly forward in full trust and confident assurance, knowing what I know: this is every blessed thing God intended it to be. And it's gonna be great.