My bride comes by worry honestly. It’s woven into her DNA, a sort-of default status that her brain clicks to if she doesn’t give it a better alternative.
She married a guy who didn’t get it. For most of our married life, I was immune to worry, even at times when worry would have absolutely been the most sane reaction to the events at hand. But I had help. I drank. A lot. And that had an amazing ability to drown worry with bravado and recklessness before it ever got fired up.
Then I went to rehab. Guess what happened? I developed an anxiety disorder. The bride got the last laugh on that one — but alas, the bride doesn’t work like that. She simply understood better than I did the things I was feeling. She showed me all the empathy I lacked.
I’m convinced worry has a toxic effect on our well-being. Eastern spirituality talks of it in terms of energy and aura. This is useful. A negative, worry-filled outlook colors everything else, seeping through our bodies with deleterious effect.
Rooting out the worry from our lives is one of the healthiest, hoof to head things we can do.
Now we both deal with worry in more proactive ways. I don’t drink. She tries not to ruminate and let her mind race ahead to a future of doom. We use our spiritual exercises in the morning to stay in the present and give the worry to God.
We also hike. It’s amazing how a trek past a gorgeous madrone grove (see above photo) can take your mind off the troubles you literally walked away from.
When I hike, my mind races towards gratitude. It just flows that way. The more grateful I am for the blessings of this life, the less room I have for worry.
I take comfort in the scriptures that reveal a God who, unlike me, shows tremendous empathy toward our inclination to worry. Jesus reminds us that God takes care of the worry-free lilies and birds whose needs are met. He sent his disciples out with nothing and said their needs would be provided. Before he left he gave a strong reminder:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” he said.
St. Paul strikes me as a guy who once suffered from some serious worry. But in one of the most tremendous passages of ancient writing (Philippians 4) he tells us “be anxious for nothing” and to simply pray instead. From the barren loneliness of a prison cell he tells us the secret of contentedness.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” he wrote.
Paul had plenty to worry about and opted instead for joy and faith, which seems to have worked better than wine.
Don’t worry, be happy, the saying went. It wasn’t bad advice.