Have you ever been called a worrywart? A worrywart is one who either worries about people or situations himself or pesters someone else incessantly. A small child who continually distracts his mother who is talking on the telephone might be called a worrywart.
The definition of worry is “to give way to anxiety or unease, to allow one’s mind to dwell on a difficulty or trouble.” Some synonyms for worry are fret, agonize, brood, panic, get worked up in a fluster, and get overwrought.
None of this sounds very productive or pleasant, so why do SOME of us worry? (Those who do not worry, I congratulate you for your mind control and envy you!) Some worry because they have an unrealistic view of problems. By giving a disproportionate amount of time thinking about a person or situation that is causing us unease, we allow the magnitude of the problem to grow and grow and grow…taking over our minds and minimizing rational thoughts.
Perhaps we fall into the ever-increasing spiral of trying to solve or correct a situation, and this act causes us stress which causes us to try harder to make corrections, which causes us to feel more stress which perpetuates harder attempts to “fix it”…repeat ad infinitum. I have seen this in my classroom. A student has a weak math background or has always disliked math. When students tell me they hates math, they look at me like I am going to fuss at them or deny their feelings. Hey! Mathematics is not every one’s cup of tea. These students or their parents have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. When they think they will not do well in math, they are right. They have become bound up in worry and can’t get better without a new attitude of non-worry. I have referred to this situation as math anxiety and, yes, in most cases it is curable.
Another possible cause of worry is the subconscious thought that what is causing the anxiety is really not “important” enough to bother God, so you will just wrestle with it yourself until it is solved. Or maybe you did turn your concerns over to God, but he has not “fixed it” yet to your satisfaction.
How Does Worry Affect You?
Constant worrying can erect a barrier between you and family or loved ones. Others will be supportive, concerned and helpful at first, but as the worrier keeps obsessing over his problem, supporters may drift away in search of a more pleasant atmosphere. Sadly the worrier may be so engrossed in his worries, he will not notice he is worrying alone.
WebMD states that worrying can produce a “fight or flight attitude that causes the body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones such as cortisol which can boost blood sugar and triglycerides (blood fats).” In other words, excessive worrying can actually make your body sick. Diabetes is an example. Constant worrying can raise your blood sugar which can exacerbate a diabetic condition.
So, as Christians let us look at God’s instructions about worrying. Over and over, God instructs us not to worry because there is no reason to do so. In Matt.6:25-34, we are told not to be concerned over physical needs such as food, drink, and clothes because God knows we need such things. Seek first HIs kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given as well. We find the same set of instructions in Luke 12 with the reminder that we cannot add a single hour to our life by worrying (and might deduct a few with excessive worrying).
Phil. 4:6-7 tells us “not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Nothing is so small or insignificant that we cannot bring it to God and wait patiently for His response. He may not answer as we wish, but He will answer in time in the way He knows is best for us.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” is found in John 14:27. These scriptures are comforting and reassuring but…
What if you find yourself worrying anyway? You have placed your trust and your life in God’s most loving hands, but you find your thoughts returning to worry like your tongue persists in probing a sore tooth. Sometimes at night in the dark quiet of my bedroom, I begin to pray in earnest for myself and others, and the next thing I know, my thoughts turn to tasks for tomorrow or how I can help a friend, etc. My prayers have been derailed into plans and worries! All I can say is that God is only too aware of the fact that I have human frailties and that I have slipped again. He is gracious to let me begin again with renewed determination to commune directly with Him and to find the sweet peace when turning my thoughts and cares to Him and lifting others to His throne of grace.
Do I still worry? Yes. Do I want to be a worrywart? No. However I am progressing to let God lead me to “find rest for my soul.” (Matt. 11:29)