Gratitude and Loving Action – Twin Antidotes to Worry

08-11-15-hard-questions-four-steps-to-stop-worry-_miniHas there ever been a Thanksgiving holiday like this one?

I’m sure there has been one — perhaps even many over the past nearly 400 years since the holiday’s inception in 1621 as our country has gone to war repeatedly — but this is certainly the first one like it in my memory.

I have never seen so much anger and fear as is in our country currently. Our anger is driven by our fear of the unknown, and right now, our fear seems to have no bounds. In many cases, friend has turned against dear friend for the way they voted in the recent election. If that’s happened to you, I’m sorry. I know how that feels, as I have experienced it too.

It’s so easy to feel indignant and to try to defend yourself. But it’s really not about you at all. It’s about fear.

We all have a choice to make as to what role fear is to take in our lives — our lives, not those of others. Indeed there are reasons to fear, and for certain sectors of the population, those reasons feel especially intense right now. They fear with reason. (And to those who are fearful right now, please know that I stand with you, and that I see and hear you. Many do.)

Certain opinion pieces and predictions of what is happening in our world have made my heart beat fast with worry and dread too. This is nothing entirely new. Since the moment I learned I was to become a mother nearly twelve years ago, I began to worry about the future of our planet and what kind of place it was going to be for my children.

But every year, I learn more of the truth in the words of some remarkable individuals, which I share with you below. I share these not to say that fear is unwarranted, but that like a bright light in the darkness, there is always hope.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” ~ Swedish proverb

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” ~ Winston Churchill

“That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.” ~ Chinese Proverb

“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” ~ Arthur Somers Roche

“Somehow our devils are never quite what we expect when we meet them face to face.” ~ Nelson DeMille

“It is not the cares of today, but the cares of tomorrow, that weigh a man down.” ~ George MacDonald

“How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

And finally:

So don’t worry about these things, saying, What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” ~ Jesus, Matthew 6:31-34

I find it remarkable that it is rarely a young person who has this kind of wisdom to impart. The young simply haven’t lived long enough to see that, for the most part, the things we fear the most never do eventuate — and, if they do, we are given the strength to survive and to endure. We do not walk through our suffering alone.

Also, while I used to view the command to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” as a conditional, if-then statement, I no longer believe that this is the case. I believe the Kingdom of God is all around us as evidenced by Creation, and within us — we have only to open our eyes to it and to live in light of it. In doing so, we become conscious of the fact that God has given us and every living creature everything we need.

Someday the walls around us will blur and melt away, and a new world will be revealed in all its fullness.

Until then, it is natural and entirely human to worry. But we must never lose heart.

When I tuck my daughter in at night, and see some childish worry etched in her face, I say to her, “Hey, who carries your worries at night?” She relaxes and smiles, “You, Mom.”

Likewise, only much more so, our Father God is able and willing to carry our worries for us.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. I Peter 5:7

This Thanksgiving, try to fill the space inhabited by your worries with gratitude for what you have this day instead. Gratitude truly is the antidote to worry, as indeed is action.

Do what you reasonably can to make the world a better, brighter, kinder, gentler, more hope, love, and grace-filled place. As always, this starts with how we treat those around us, and those we encounter.

Lay bare the torch within you that is Christ.

And make a daily practice of gratitude.

You’ll be amazed to see what happens.

~ by Jeannine Buntrock

Image courtesy of Daily Hope.

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