Worry

I’m good at worrying. At night, sleep eludes me as I conjure up scenario after scenario. What if this happened? Or that?  I’m like a dog chewing at a bone, a relentless and determined worrier.
            Friends tell me to “let go and let God.” I know that’s good advice, but it’s not easy to follow. How can I trust God? God has given us the gift of free will? Free will means that my loved one can refuse God’s help. What then?
Because we love, we envision chaos that may never happen. It’s hard to accept the fact that we can’t make all the decisions for our precious child. When children are little, we can rush in and fix things.  Once they are teenagers, our fixes are unwanted. Teens, in their desire for independence, can be cruel as they reject our well-intentioned efforts. They leave us with no alternative but worry. But we don’t have to worry alone.
            I get up in the middle of the night, harassed by my fears and write a letter to God. I dump on God all my worries and all my wise solutions. The page full, I sit quietly waiting, waiting for help. It amazes me that God always answers. I hear. “Keep on loving. Love that child or friend, no matter what. You may have to declare some behaviour unacceptable, for it won’t help to be walked on. Still, keep on loving. Entrust the future to me, your God. I have a plan. Trust in me to work out that plan. I will never leave your loved one.” So I return to bed. In the morning, I may pick up that worry once again, but at least for a few hours, I have received God’s peace.
I give thanks to God that my worries draw me to prayer. The cycle of worry-prayer-peace has value for it keeps me in contact with God.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Sharing

Early every morning, I sit in my favourite recliner chair, enjoying the warmth of our home, and look out the living room window to see beauty everywhere. A glass of fresh water sits on the table beside me. I know that when my meditation and prayer time is over, I will eat a healthy breakfast. I give thanks to God for the endless blessings in my life.

Over the past year, news stories have thundered out the plight of others in distant lands and here at home. We’ve heard about millions of refugees living in squalor in tent cities, desperate for clean water and a handful of rice. We’ve heard about the homeless wandering our cold streets, sleeping on hot air vents. The news has shown us the Philippines, with homes flattened or destroyed by flash floods, and people swept to their death.

The Bible tells us the story of King David, who had won his wars and settled down in his magnificent cedar palace surrounded by luxuries. King David looks out over the city and says to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” (2 Samuel 1:1)

God responds through Nathan with “Your offspring will build a temple for me. Your calling is to be a great and compassionate leader for my people.”

King David’s experience speaks to us as we sit in the luxury of our secure and warm home. God calls you and I to care for God’s people. We cannot remove all the poverty, homelessness, and pain in this world, but we can provide food for at least one person, one night’s lodging at the local shelter for the homeless, one tent or one blanket for a refugee in a far off land. Out of our abundance we can do something. We are called by God to bring hope to this world through sharing our blessings. That’s our job. Let’s do it.

“Little White Lies”

            Back erect, face shining with satisfaction, my friend strode toward me. “How do you like it?” she asked, as she tossed her head. Her wispy hair sort of flopped across her face. “Isn’t it just like the TV ad for that shampoo, where the woman lets her hair swing freely?”

            No, I thought, not really. Yes, you needed to cut off your thin lanky hair that never looked washed. But cut off short so it could frame your face. This just makes your face look long and horsey. Will I lie, and say, “you look beautiful”, or will I tell the truth?

            As a child I learned about the Ten Commandments. God’s ten special laws were carved in stone. I knew a stone once broken could not be repaired without at least a big scar. As a teenager, I learned that lying meant loss of trust. Repairing that trust left a big scar in me, as well as in my parents. In time I developed the habit of answering a direct question with the truth, the whole truth, even when I knew I’d be in trouble.

Today, truthfulness is one of my core values. I don’t want to succumb even to the “little white lies” told because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Therefore, on this particular day I bought myself some time by saying, “Turn around. Let me see the back.” She twirled. I thought. Once again, her excited eyes met mine. I pasted on a smile and offered, “Wow, what a chic haircut. It must be a big change. What gave you the courage to cut off your long hair?” Happily, she told me all the details. Twirling a second time, she danced off to someone else.

I heaved a sigh of relief. I knew it wasn’t necessary to ruin her joy and yet, I also know that it’s the tiny steps we take that carry us off in a direction we don’t want to go. Little white lies, become lies of expediency, become the end justifies the means, become intentional deceit, become…We can always find a reason to avoid being truthful. Therefore, I encourage you to keep the commandment, “Thou shalt not lie.”

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19)

Wrinkles

In a book titled “Laugh Yourself Healthy,” I found this wise saying: “If you laugh a lot, when you get older your wrinkles will be in all the right places.” At first, I thought about the “crow’s feet” wrinkles we call laugh lines that form around the outer edge of our eyes. With deeper thought, I recognized the wrinkles that form in our hearts from events that happen in our lives.
One summer night, when Tom and I were first going together, we got lost on a remote country road in northern Ontario. For some reason, instead of becoming angry or frightened, all the silly jokes about men refusing to ask directions began to march through my brain. Laughter bubbled up inside me until it burst forth. Tom pulled the car over to the side of the road. “You’re not angry?” he asked, his face full of surprise.
“No,” I answered. “Anger won’t help.”
“Thank you. You’re wonderful,” he said, and smiled. He pointed at the sky. “There’s the north star. We want to go west, so I’ll turn left at the next side road. That should take us back to the highway.” Sure enough, within five minutes we were on a paved road with signs directing us to the next town. That experience has been foundational for our relationship.
Laughter helps. We remember the times we laughed till we cried and our sides ached. Such moments of blessing leave us refreshed and exhausted. Scientists’ studies have proven that laughter brings healing.
Since I struggle to remember jokes, I have decided to start each week of 2012 reading in “Laugh Yourself Healthy” until I find a joke that causes me to at least chuckle. I will write it down and share it as often as possible. After all, I know I enjoy people who bring laughter into my life. And I know wrinkles are inevitable. They might as well appear in all the right places.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”            (Proverbs 17:22 NIV)