Monday, June 25, 2007

Woman to Woman - Worry

woman to woman

"Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear."

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength."

These two quotes are from Corrie Ten Boom, who survived concentration camp imprisonment after she and her family hid Jewish people in their home in the Netherlands from certain death at the hands of the Nazis. If anyone had something to worry about, it was certainly Corrie!

I've had the second quote attached to my computer monitor at work for years. I look at it often. I'm afraid I haven't mastered the key to worry-free life as of yet.


Are you old enough to remember him? Alfred E. Neuman never seemed to have a problem in the world. At least he put on a happy (idiotic) face for every MAD magazine addition.

Unfortunately, the rest of us do have worries. But are we supposed to worry? Not according to Jesus in Matthew 6:

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'

32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

The Message says that last verse this way:

34 Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

The old King James Version says for that last phrase, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." I think I like that the best of all.

I remember when I first really made that passage my own. It was the summer after my senior year in high school. I had been counting the days to college since early in my junior year when I had visited our denomination's campus in Oklahoma. For some reason, I had felt right at home there and could not wait to move in.

I spent the last two years of high school in Omaha when Dad took a pastorate there. We went to a small school outside the city, and had a wonderful experience. I've chronicled some of that time in previous posts, particularly my stint as co-editor of the school newspaper (especially here). This class embraced me as one of theirs, even though I was only there for 2 years and most of them had been together since kindergarten. I still keep close touch with two of those girls that I slumber-partied and pep clubbed with.

At the same time, we had a great, though small, youth group at our church. We created our own lessons for Sunday night youth meeting, we planned the programs and decorated our banquets, we went to camp together, and we had a teen choir. This was during the days when teen choirs were burgeoning and traveling all over the country and world. We didn't have a budget, great outfits, or choreography. We just sang for fun and the love of God, and went to a couple of churches around the state to share the joy.

After graduation, I was not able to get a summer job. So I went to camp - 3 camps that summer. One was my own camp to attend and the other two I worked in the kitchen to pay for my way to my camp. But that was not getting me in very good shape for college bills. I blissfully went through that summer, not worrying. Which is a good thing, to not worry. But I was sort of like Alfred E. up above, "What me, Worry?" I didn't have a cent to my name. My parents didn't either. They had 4 kids after me.

I had never given it a second thought that I would do anything but go to college. I applied, was accepted, was excited. There was no school counseling in those days, at least in our little school. The school counselor helped you with your schedule and that was about it - at least that was all he did for me. He didn't guide us to our college choices or career options, or financial aid - especially financial aid!

The summer was drawing to a close. The excitement was mounting for me. I can't imagine how naive I was - and my parents must have been as well. At least they never mentioned a word to me about their concern for how we were going to pay for this venture into higher education. That's one great thing about my parents - we were poor, but we didn't seem to know it as kids.

It must have been in August. I had begun to pack for college. I went to bed that night, but could not sleep. I tossed and turned and fretted about how this was all going to work out - suddenly reality was hitting me in the face. How WAS I going to pay for college?? I heard some low voices down the hall at the other end, so I padded down to Mom and Dad's room to share my concerns with them. Seems as though they were having the same thoughts and conversation. When I realize now how young they were at that time (34 and 37!), I cannot imagine the panic they must have been feeling. We had a long talk and they mentioned that I should possibly stay home a year and make some money.

I went back to my room very troubled. I did NOT want to stay home another year. I mentioned to them that then my sister and I would go to college the same year. They said maybe she'd have to do the same and it would even out. I had been looking so forward to this adventure and now it seemed to be crumbling.

I slept not a wink that night. I began to pray and ask God for answers. I had a wrestling match with Him that night. I told Him what I'd told my parents - I wanted out of there! Not that I didn't love home. I loved my church. I just wanted to fulfill the dream I'd been dreaming for 2 years.

As the night wore on and I cried tears of many different emotions, suddenly I began to see the advantages of staying home and earning some money. I could actually have some new clothes! I began to realize how many things I needed to even furnish a dorm room. I might even be able to go to school without having to work. That was a new concept! I remember as if it were yesterday the moment I yielded my will to HIS. I told Him I would stay home if that was His will. In fact, I was sure it was. A huge weight rolled off my spirit.

The very next morning, THE VERY NEXT MORNING, the phone began to ring with people from church calling to ask my mom what I needed to be ready for college. They wanted to give me a "college shower." My brother (MG's husband) and our friend (like a 4th brother) came and offered to buy my towels AND a winter coat. Someone offered an iron and ironing board. Someone gave me sheets. When I think of how naively I went through that summer without worrying, I am amazed. But God had a plan all along. He always does.

Just before leaving for college, the "Teen Quartet" (my brother, sister, above mentioned friend, and myself) went out to western Nebraska to hold a morning service for a pastor friend. I was the speaker, and I spoke from my heart about the miracle that had occurred in my life, personally and spiritually. The scripture above became my life scripture. Soon I'm going to write about the varied jobs I had to get through school - but I can say I ended up the last year of college with the school owing ME $17.00! - what a mighty God we serve.

I wish I could say that I never worry. I can't. But I always have this scripture and these two quotes that come to me when I do, and I ask for divine help to give it to Him. I have seen enough miracles to date that I should probably never be burdened with worry - I know He has a plan. I need to remember that today.


Maine Mom said...

I love hearing stories about prayers being heard and answered. I've witnessed my Mom submit to God's will many times over the past few years and it is neat to hear about the peace she feels and seeing everything work out for her...even though it's not what SHE wants. I'm glad it worked out for you, too. :-)

I also love the second quote at the beginning of your post. I'm going to put it somewhere I can read it often. Thank you!

ellen b said...

These are good reminders for every day. We are prone to forget the God we serve and that He is in control! Thank You!

MommyK said...

My husband is a serial worrier. He worries about *everything.* I'll have to show him this post!

Penless Thoughts said...

I enjoyed reading your wonderful testimony of God's goodness.

Barb said...

I loved reading this story, Dawn. How amazing that the school owed YOU money at the end. I think I'd have saved that $17 forever.

I wish I could say I never worry either. No way, unfortunately. Right now I'm worried that so many people want these wedding favors and I only have 30 of them. Sigh.

But your name is in the hat! LOL

I loved this post. What an amazing community you lived in - so nice the way they helped you get started.

Lana G! said...

Great story for a great truth. Thank you for the reminders of his control over all the little and big things in our lives!

Lei said...

This was just beautiful Dawn... I am one who needs the reminder to worry less. I always think to myself "a little more Mary, a little less Martha" - Mary being so calm while Martha the older sister worried so about all the details. That would be me!

Montserrat said...

Wonderful thoughts! Replacing the worry with trust and faith is so hard but very necessary.

Susie said...

I know I often need a reminder to worry less.
I loved the part about the college shower!
I'll look forward to hearing of all your jobs.

Belladonna said...

Great words! One of my favorite quotes on this topic comes from Mark Twain: "I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened."

Our minds, bodies and spirits get worn down with the stress of worry, so often about things that never actually turn out the way we fear.

Can you imagine if we were to replace even half of our worry-related thoughts to stunning optimism what a difference that could make?

Tigersue said...

I am a person that worries. I try not to and I try to keep that eternal perspective that no matter what all is well.

Midlife Mom said...

Wonderful post Dawn. I too need a reminder to worry less and rely on God more. 'Be anxious for nothing' is something we all need to learn. Learn to lean, learn to lean, learn to lean on Jesus!

Myrna said...

Very well spoken! You really worked through the worry. What a good story of faith in God's goodness.

Gran - (Angela) said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful post today. I think we all need to be reminded that God always has a plan and is in control of our lives. I am trying very hard to worry less and put my total trust in God.

Have a wonderful evening!

Linda said...

Dawn - you always bless me so much. What a powerful testimony of God's provision and power and love. Whenever I actually manage to had the controls completely over to Him, there is such a sense of peace. I don't know why I'm always so ready to grab them back again.
You did an amazing job with this. I love your stories. I'll be those sweet little granddaughters are going to be spellbound by all these wonderful stories you have to share with them.

Diane J. said...

Ooooh...I love your new profile pic! :-)

I have to say that I haven't mastered the art of not worrying, but worrying honestly isn't one of my major faults. I have my days and times of crisis, but for the most part my faults lie elsewhere.

Now I'll have to pay for those words. Satan will see this as a prime area to test me in. :-)

I loved reading more about your life story, Dawn. Hope all is well with you and yours. :-)

Love and hugs,


randi said...

Thank you for the reminder to keep myself from worrying---it accomplishes absolutely nothing!

PEA said...

Dawn, you have such a wonderful way of writing...your words bring it all to life the feelings and worrying you went through. That quote is very powerful and I think I will borrow it and attach it to my messageboard near my computer so that I can read it every day also! Worrying is something I'm very familiar with. Beautiful post dear Dawn!! xoxo

Cindy Swanson said...

Dawn, you have a lovely blog! This was my first visit, and I really enjoyed it. Hope you'll come visit mine when you get a moment. :)

groovyoldlady said...

I am not a chronic worrier, but I do my share! Thanks for the reminder to keep myes and trust on Jehovah Jireh. We've got some "stuff" coming up that could be "worrisome" and I need to stay focused!

Tammy said...

Worry is a tough one for me...this was such a wonderful testimony of how God loves us and has a plan for our lives!

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

Yep, I am a worrier! Sad to say but true. While much of it is due to my illness, some is not and I do not like to worry, really. But if you let worry take hold, it just burrows in and can really consume all your thoughts. So I try with Christ help, to not be such a worry wart!

Morning Glory said...

Honest and beautifully expressed! Not worrying is so hard sometimes.

We're at an internet cafe/pastry shop, so I can actually read what people have written.

Jada's Gigi said...

what an awesome testimony to go along with your point..:) No wonder Barb loves you..your posts are great! The story about your teenage naivety and your song verses for the 5 things you dig about Jesus remind me of I never did get to college...God had other plans for me...but I have never regretted it for one minute. I haven't conquered worry completely either..but wow have I come a long way. i discovered the secret...He is completely in control! I just have to keep reminding myself...:)
thanks for coming by my place..I'm not blogging too much right now...busy in my "real life" haha...but its quite wonderful to meet you...and I'll come by again, I'm sure of it.

Jada's Gigi said...

BTW..just read your post about the Hymn Sing...all I can say is OH MY GOODNESS!! I could only dream of such an event!! I would be in heaven! What a WONDERFUL thing!