Pastoral Advice for those who Worry
Dr. Randy White
I’m sure that worry has been around since the fall of man, but with the advent of social media, worriers now have a new avenue through which to broadcast their fears. As I look through Facebook or Twitter, I find lots of people expressing lots of fears. As a Pastor (who is notoriously not-worried), I want to give a little advice to those who struggle fulfilling the instruction to, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
What follows is simply observation; free and unsolicited advice. You can “take it or leave it,” but I hope it will be helpful.
Stay off the internet
If you have a tendency to worry, you probably also have a tendency to find evidence that your worries are valid. If you’re looking for evidence that your worries are valid, you’ll find it on the internet (even if the worries are not valid!)
If your worry is alien invasion, gamma rays, cancers caused by styrofoam, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tidal waves, flooding, or the ill effects of short-sermons, you’ll be able to find some source on the internet that has done “extensive research” and come to “startling conclusions” that will confirm your worries. By “researching” your worry, you are not (as your mind tells you) being proactive and cautionary. You are really feeding your heart with worry over something that you can’t really change even if you wanted to.
Stay away from 24/7 news and weather
The creation of the 24/7 news and weather channels has given a huge boost to the worry-industry. Years ago when a big news story hit, you could hear a radio report, listen to a half-hour broadcast, and read a story in the paper. Now, you can watch as talking heads grasp for any kind of information on the event. You’ll hear them interview the friend of the neighbor three houses down, who thought he heard something go bang. If it’s an approaching storm, you’ll be able to get a live report from a reporter, standing in a sprinkling rain, telling how they had to turn the windshield wipers on medium speed just to get to the site, and that, while traffic is still moving now, it is possible that the impending doom will bring an end to life as we know it, all within a matter of hours, if not minutes. You’ll be told to stay home, hunker down, take care of your plants, pipes, and pets, and, above all, stay off the roads.
If you have any tendency to worry, just stay away from these 24/7 reports. All the info you really need will be given in the first five-minutes. (Plus, worried friend/mother/co-worker/neighborhood-caretaker will fill you in on all the details).
Listen to your husband
I realize that men also worry, but my observation is that women have more of a natural tendency toward worry. Many female worriers are worried that their husbands are not worried. I’m sure a few of these wives are, even now, are saying, “But you don’t know my husband. He doesn’t worry about anything. He’s too out-of-touch, too aloof. If i don’t do this, the family is sure to get swept away in the coming apocalypse.”
Ladies, you’ll be so much better off if you use this rule of thumb: I’ll worry when my husband starts worrying. I know that this will likely be characterized as chauvinistic, but I really do believe that wives need to submit to their husbands in the area of worry. If you don’t have a husband, then look to a respected male figure (your dad, a deacon, or the grandpa who lives around the corner). Let that man know that you sometimes allow worry to carry you on a run-away train, and that you want him to tell you what to worry about, and when.
Remember, the worst almost never happens, and when it does, it is almost never avoidable.
Of all the things you worried about, how many of them came to pass? Of those that actually happened, how many of them were as bad as you worried they would be? My hunch is that you often worried for nothing.
Rather than worry, just make responsible decisions. When the worst comes (and it rarely does), there is very little you can really do to prepare for it, anyway. If you’ve made responsible decisions along the way, you’ll be as well-prepared as anyone.
Life is short and expensive: enjoy it!
You and me are going to die, sooner than we want to admit (save the Lord’s quick return in rapture). Between now and then, we’re going to spend lots (if not all) of our money. Life is short and expensive, no way around it. It’s too short, in fact, to make the day miserable through worry. It’s too expensive to make funds more scarce by hiding them under the mattress because the dollar is soon to collapse and only 24 carat gold will buy you a loaf of bread. I would rather see you enjoy the sunshine while it shines and the money while it lasts than be under shelter with a pile of gold coins, all while failing to enjoy the blessings of this life.
Get out and enjoy life…you’re worrying yourself sick!
Need more help with worry? Here’s another article on the same subject