May 11, 2020by Reverend Dan on May 11, 2020
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
I heard a song on the radio recently that I hadn’t heard in years.
Back in 1988 (I remember the year because it was when my oldest child was born), “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was released. It was the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard charts, including the Pop, R&B, Hip/Hop, and Adult Contemporary charts. It was childlike and simplistic in its message and form (using “whistling” as the solo “instrument”), and the video with Bobby McFerrin (the singer), Robin Williams, and Bill Irwin was so innocuous in a time of video’s featuring scantily clad models and sexual innuendo that it was shown on Sesame Street.
Here's a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy
I like the lines “In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double” because it is so true. I checked a few of my “go-to” pollsters and researchers, and they all agree that between 85% and 90% of things we worry about never come to fruition. Think about that. Of all the things that consume your mind, upset your stomach, and cause sleepless nights, only one in ten of them will actually ever happen. That is a lot of useless Tums and Rolaids.
So, what is worry? Way back in 1915, an American surgeon and psychiatrist named William Samuel Sadler wrote a book called Worry and Nervousness, and in it he described worry as “the inability to relax the attention given to something once it has fastened itself onto a given fear”. He said the thoughts about it became negative and eventually could “destabilize” a person. (Psychiatrists today agree with that, redefining “destabilize” as depression.)
I had an idea once. In a previous pastorate I had a world-class worrier. If worrying were an Olympic sport, she would have been the Gold Medalist every four years. I was at my wits end of how to help her, and one day just threw out an idea. “For an entire month, write down everything you spend time worrying about. Then at the end of the month bring the list back and we’ll take a look at it.” And wouldn’t you know it? Two out of nineteen things on the list happened. The other seventeen never did and she even admitted that she had already forgotten she even worried about them.
If you are a worrier (and I guess at some point and to some degree we all are), here’s an offering. Set aside 15 minutes a day. Find a private place. And then go worry. Sweat and swear and wring your hands about whatever is on your mind. Then, let it go until the next day. Will it work for everything? No. Will it work for everyone? No. Will it work right away? Probably not. Anxiety and worrying take years to build up, so they are not going to be cured overnight. But it is a start, and for many people I have recommended it to, it gets them on a road to realizing that life and its problems do not have to overwhelm us. Absolutely give the concerns in your life their right place, but no more than their value dictates. Worrying cannot add hours to our lives, but it can take hours away because of the mental, emotional, and physical toll it takes on us.
Worry 15 minutes a day. Then . . . “don’t worry, be happy”.
“Father, Give us Your peace in the midst of our worries, and help us to realize there is no worry that You are not bigger than. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”