Healthy Minds, Healthy Souls: Worry and Fear

I used to read a book to my children when they were young, simply entitled We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. It was about a family literally going on a bear hunt, very repetitive, but quite catchy. The story took the family through many different terrains, some of them more challenging than others, all with the purpose of trying to avoid the big bad bear. But, no matter which terrain the family faced, they always uttered the same thing, “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, oh no! We gotta go through it!” So cute, but isn’t this saying so true in life? Life is full of situations that cause us to feel afraid, that cause us to worry; all these things that we just can’t seem to avoid. Funny thing is though the family goes through so much to avoid the bear, and comes home only to meet the bear in their own house! We cannot avoid fear, we have to face it.

So, why do we worry? Does it really protect us? Does it really give us the control we seek in an uncertain situation? Well, some would argue that it puts us more in control by helping us feel prepared; that making scary situations more predictable allows us to avoid negative outcomes. With that said, how come worry doesn’t make us feel better then? Well, unfortunately, most of the time we worry about situations that have no foreseeable solution. The ones that do have foreseeable solutions, the ones we could be preparing for, we just avoid! This type of worry cycle exhausts us and has no end.

Next time you face a worry, try to decide whether it’s a productive one. How do you know? Well, I like to go by the rule that if you can come up with a way to solve the problem, or brainstorm a solution to your worry, than it’s a productive worry. For example, “I am worried about this exam/doing my taxes/getting my work done.”

Can I solve that problem or brainstorm a solution? Yes, of course: study, and make a plan to get your taxes or work done! Productive worry is the type that motivates us toward reaching our goals. It’s a necessary mechanism that gets us moving towards our greater purpose.

Where we struggle is in getting caught up in a web of worry about situations that have no foreseeable solution. The truth is, God has equipped us with everything we need to survive a storm and we must remember that storms are a part of this life. No amount of checking, planning, studying, reassurance seeking, worrying or stressing can help us avoid certain negative outcomes. But what we do know is that Christ’s love for us, and immense mercy has given us everlasting life with Him.

During this season of Lent, let go of your worries and remember that God is always with you. He is with you in the love of people He has placed around you to love you through the hard times. He is with you when you go to bed at night and connect with His love in prayer. He is with you when you see the beauty of the world around you in nature. He is with you when you slow down to breathe and meditate on the peace that only He can bring. He is always with you.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
– John 14:27

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