“Invite God’s future into your present moments and flush out the toxins of worry.” – Scott Sauls.
When I was a kid I visited my grandmother in the country every summer. My parents would drive me down to rural Alabama and drop me off for a few weeks. The memories I made those summers I will never forget. I fished, explored, played with cousins that I barely knew or hardly ever saw, I picked tomatoes, road on the riding lawn mower. Have you read the book Tom Sawyer? Yeah that was basically me. Everything except having to paint a fence for punishment.
My grandmother died a few years ago (she suffered many years from Alzheimer’s disease). When I think back now on those summer memories I notice a common theme with my interaction with her.
She was a worrier. To the extreme.
For example, whenever she would cook those amazing, delicious everything-from-scratch breakfasts for me and my family she would be so worried that something wasn’t right with the meal that she would just pace back and forth making sure we were all happy. She would not eat anything, and would only sit down after we would force her to sit by all insisting that she did. She would not eat anything until everyone had finished and she was sure we had had enough to eat. I thought that was just how old people were. I thought it was normal. It was obviously not normal. When she worried, everything about her countenance showed it. Her face would sort of strain and frown. Her body would tense up. She would pace or go outside and work in the yard to stay busy.
Now I loved my grandmother dearly and my intention is to not speak ill of her. She was not a bad person because she worried a lot. But unfortunately her worry was her addiction and to my knowledge she never found recovery to combat it.
Little did she know that she was modeling toxic fear to the generations that looked up to her. I remember even as a child being perplexed by how unreasonable she would be because she was so wrapped up in her worry. One little thing would set her off and then before you knew it the sky would be falling!
I am just as guilty at times of toxic worry. The “what if” games in my head is a deadly game for my heart. The times I want to be a helicopter parent are times that I give in to my worry. I all too often accept that my expectations should be my reality and worry about when life will not measure up to my standards.
Every time I worry I am putting my trust in my fear and not God.
Most of my stress over the years have been self-inflicted worrying. Stress builds in my shoulders and eventually my upper body is tight and uncomfortable. It feels like I just got out of the gym (but not in a good way). Worrying is hard work on my spirit and body and it really is completely unnecessary!
So what can I do about it? Should I just chalk it up to powerlessness? Just another thing that I can’t control so I just surrender it? Maybe so but it seems that worry is a bit more of a choice than the fear that drives it. Fear is an emotion, worry is a toxic reaction to that fear.
The one worry that eats me up inside is living in expectations and not reality. One of the things that I love about living in recovery is waking up every morning with hope. Recovery has brought more hope in my life than anything else. But many times I mistake hope for unreasonable pipe dreams. They are not the same. Worry is unreasonable and makes me think insane thoughts and then do insane things. I need to be reasonable. Being reasonable for me is to expect a certain level of suffering in my life. I am a sex addict with a completely broken past that has left behind an absurd amount of wreckage. I must know that the storms aren’t over and my life is not going to be perfect just because I am getting well.
But how? How can I ever be reasonable, I am a addict after all!
The answer is so simple: God.
The Bible says, “Don’t be anxious about anything but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
What is anxious to me? It’s toxic worry, its obsession, its being fixated on something and not letting go of it.
“Worry is a sign that I am being discipled by fear rather than God’s Word.” – Scott Sauls
So here is my hope for today: the worst case scenario.
I used to think my worst case scenario was losing my dream job, losing friendships, getting a divorce and moving far away from my children. All of those things were not fun trust me but they are not my worst case scenario. You wanna know what my new worst case scenario is?
Resurrection and life eternal.
No matter what happens to me in this life, ultimately the worst it could get for me is eternity with God.
Now that is the kind of hope that I can hold on to.