By Sis Nancy Catan, BCBP Manila
“Worry is a future-tense emotion.” “Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s TROUBLES; it takes away today’s PEACE.” While reading over some of my myriad notes, I came across these intriguingly profound statements. Who said them? I don’t remember.
Worry is what we do when we are uncertain about the future. Worry looks for possibilities, for probabilities, for all the things that might go wrong . Worry tears apart every possible happening by asking “what if…?” Worry stirs up our imagination to project all possible terrible, disturbing, life-threatening disasters that might conceivably happen. Worrying is thinking about and concentrating on all the things we don’t have. Worry is all about the tomorrows that never come! Worry is not trusting in God’s loving providence for us.
Where does worrying get us? Nowhere…except we end up emotionally drained, disheartened and pessimistic. Worrying just erodes happiness and contentment. We forget to count our blessings and all the good things God has given us. All we get are ulcers, migraine headaches, heart strain, body aches and pains. Our moods tend to disintegrate until we either become angry at the world and everything in it, or else we withdraw into ourselves away from our friends, family, and the world. Worrying brings on guilt feelings, too, and we begin blaming ourselves for other people’s mistakes. Not a happy picture is it?
I want to share a little secret with you that I learned the hard way many years ago. It’s very simple. Just transform the “What will I do if…” into “What can I do now about this situation?” This leads to creative thinking and practical action to prevent the “if’s” from happening. Stop focusing on the problem – this just gives birth to more problems and you end up becoming part of the problem. Start focusing on being part of the solution – this stimulates clear proactive thinking and helps you cope with the present, besides enabling you to see the future in brighter perspective.
What are the alternatives to worry? Think creatively and positively. Notice and appreciate all the things you do have right now; you will find that you have enough for the now, for today. Simplify your needs and your desires to suit your life situation. Trust in God to supply all your needs (not necessarily all your wants). Read and pray about Jesus’ comments in Matthew 6:25-34.
Yes, we should be concerned about what is happening, but I don’t believe we should excessively worry about it. I have found that worrying never solves the problem; just the opposite, because I have wasted time worrying, nothing positive has been accomplished, and the problem has just grown bigger. Being concerned leads to positive action; worrying just sends out toxic signals resulting in fear, negative impulses, and panic.
This Lenten season is a good time to begin fasting from worry and focusing on every good thing that God has blessed us with. It is a good time to begin focusing on “What can I do now…” instead of worrying about all the “what if’s” of tomorrow.