“When did I become such a worrier?” I asked my friend as we lamented various circumstances in our lives that were monopolizing our hearts and minds. She shrugged. At one time, in my circle, I was known as the calm, measured one— the one who took challenges as they came and didn’t look back with regret; or forward with worry. “She takes things in stride,” one of my supervisors stated in my employee evaluation when I was fresh out of college and ablaze with enthusiasm for my new career. Nothing seemed to bog me down.
Maybe the worrying habit started when we became parents, my friend and I surmised. Because if you ever had the notion that you had control over your life, that notion goes out the window after you have kids (can I get an Amen?). Or maybe worry took root when I became a homeowner with a mortgage and unending bills to tackle. Or maybe worry became part of my DNA after my dad died suddenly, or when I had a miscarriage, or when the C-word began lurking in my husband’s medical charts— all times when I found myself on shaky ground that was once solid. I get it. If you have enough of those experiences, you can tend to worry about what’s around the corner. It’s the fear of “what if.”
But this I also know: When I let worry slither in under the door, (or, rather, when I march right up to the door and usher it in with great fanfare), I am turning my back on what the Lord has promised me. And you.
Our loving Lord promises that he will be there, in our tomorrow, just as he is here in our today. In fact, He’s already there! Think about that. He won’t abandon us. He is constant, everlasting, eternal. He is our Rock, our Fortress and our Stronghold! He crushes the “what ifs” with his love and peace and grace.
That means our worry is useless. It is unproductive and unnecessary. It is, dare I say it, worldly.
But, call me human, I still do it. So I need to remind myself (and perhaps you need to remind yourself too?) that even if bad things happen (and they will), Jesus will be there to help us through it. The Holy Spirit will guide us. Something good will come of it. God will still be on His throne. Even if. Even if real and legitimate concerns arise. Even if a heartbreaking diagnosis is given. Even if a loved one is taken from us in an instant.
When I pray during my morning prayer journaling time, I can ask for Jesus to shut down those pesky “what ifs” and instead give me the strength of “even if.” And you know what? That phrase is so much more helpful to have bouncing around in my brain. It establishes a kernel of courage deep within me. It lights a flicker of a flame. It compels me to turn to God and be not afraid. Because, even if, I will have Him. And that is all I need.
“Pray, hope and don’t worry,” said Saint Padre Pio. That’s our command, Sistas.
Mary Beth is a 50-something magazine editor, a family humor columnist and an author, but her favorite form of writing is prayer journaling. Praying with a pen every morning for years
dramatically strengthened her spiritual life, even drawing her back home to the fullness of the Catholic Church after several decades away! She recently published a book with Beacon
Publishing/Dynamic Catholic titled, “Praying with a Pen—the Girlfriends’ Guide to Stress-Free Prayer Journaling.” Married for 30+ years to her witty and wonderful husband, she’s a mom to two adult children: one a seminarian studying in Rome and the other a happily married school social worker who promoted Mary Beth to grandma status in March of 2018. Mary Beth is a member of her church choir, loves to sing at big Catholic weddings and has recently begun facilitating Catholic book studies and retreats for women. With a background in corporate communications and marketing and a Master’s degree in Business and Organizational Leadership, she has spoken to over 100 groups on the topics of leadership, family humor, writing and prayer journaling. Mary Beth has a borderline unhealthy attachment to her little dog, Sammy and, when the mood strikes her, she blogs about prayer journaling (and Sammy) at www.prayingwithapen.com.