Thursday, January 16, 2014

Letting Go of Worry

I almost titled this post, "Holding onto Worry," because that is what I tend to do. It's almost like worry seeps into every crevice of my heart and becomes this deep-rooted anxiety that leaves me in a twisted, dark place.

The worry comes at me from all directions.

Well, I should be more specific: my OWN stress and hearing about others' heartache turn into worry.

I choose to worry.

I make a choice to turn that stress into worry.

I've always been deeply affected by other peoples' pain. When I heard about starvation and AIDS in Africa when I was five years old it left me deeply saddened. Not just sad, but so heartbroken that I couldn't function.

Even now when I hear stories of child abuse or anorexia or suicide it haunts me. I have dreams about these people who are hurting so badly, even if I barely know them. Their faces greet me at every corner.

I care deeply for people and it hurts to see (or hear about) them hurting. Most of the time I am fairly far removed from these situations so I feel helpless. I want to give them love and make them tea and let them talk and hug them.

I'm going to be really honest--at times I have felt out of control from the stress in my own life. Hearing about other people's issues left me feeling even more like there was no floor beneath me. (As I look back, there was always a floor, I just couldn't see it in those experiences). I had my own feelings of despair and brokenness and regret and confusion that seeing people in their own turmoil sent me over the edge.

But in another way, I focused all my attention on what I couldn't control. It provided the illusion that I was had a more confident footing on the ground that I was desperately trying to maintain.

For a few years I have played with the idea of becoming a therapist. Of course , the main reason was to "help people." I could offer empathy and insight from my own difficult, painful experiences, but I would also have a front row seat to these people and their pain. Maybe in helping others come to terms with their own trauma, I could make sense of my own.

My reasons for wanting to become a therapist are not entirely selfish, but as I examine going foreword in that direction I don't think it is the job for me. I'm scared to shut the door completely on that occupation, but I think I am too sensitive and could possibly become entangled in their stories.

I believe that my ability to let go of worry and channel that anxiety is becoming more refined. But this is only because of a supernatural hand holding my heart. Sensitivity and the propensity to worry are built into my personality. I want the ideal for everyone--whatever that ideal may be.

A wise friend always reminds me that "everyone has to have there own testimony." Hearing this initially ramps up my anxiety, but soon it becomes a salve to that sliver of my heart that aches for justice and is afraid of brokenness. It's true. We all have been given our own story. Nothing I do or don't do can determine someone's life story. It's the dark, twisty times that give us strength and perspective. These scary, lonely times give us the capacity to love deeper and hope with more buoyancy.

While everyone has their own story and essentially only God determines their breathes and steps, human beings most definitely impact each other. We don't know how our words or our actions can affect someone's heart.

My life has been deeply impacted my the choices of others' to love me when I was a tad delusional. The simplicity of cooking a meal together or holding another's hand have saved my life, or at least my sanity.

I don't want to spend my time worrying about other peoples' pain. I want to spend my time loving them, even if that means praying for them from a distance. Suffering is real, but so is God's love. While I don't want to obsess about people, I also don't want to miss opportunities to reach out. A smile, a note, a long conversation at the kitchen table--it is the seemingly little things that make a difference.

*Let's love people.*

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