If you ask me what the single most important key to longevity is, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension… – George Burns
It is real, it is out there, and it could kill you! It is waiting…watching… and you might be its next victim. Let’s just say that it has your number.
Do I have your attention yet? Wondering, “What is he talking about?” Isn’t that painfully obvious by now? I’m talking about – it!
Now, let’s define it:
- Something, nothing, the mountains, the molehills, – anything and everything – that leads to WORRY.
And you really need to get over it!
Are you the anxious, tense or uneasy type? Tend to go over and over and over the same mostly negative scenarios in your mind? Find yourself stuck on the what-if merry-go-round?
- What if I lose my job?
- What if I get a fatal disease?
- What if my dog gets hit by a car?
- What if I run out of money before I die?
- What if I have a heart attack or a stroke?
- What if terrorists blow up the mall while I’m shopping?
Here’s my personal favorite,
- What if I don’t live up to everyone’s expectations?
That last one tells me that you are more concerned with the stuff people expect of you than with your own joy, peace and fulfillment in this life. Yes, the carousel just keeps spinning… what if this…, what if that…, what if the other thing? OMG what IF…! Ahhhhhhhhhh!
What if you just chill for a few moments and hear me out; because, if you resonate at all with what I have said so far, you may be worrying your life away. In the process you could also be deeply wounding your human spirit, distressing your mental health, and taxing your physical well-being (aka: worried sick). I recently read a medical study that claimed, “Worriers are more likely to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, fatigue, miscellaneous aches, pains, and numerous other maladies.” Yikes. I’m not a medical expert, but my powers of observation have shown me that worrywarts are often pretty miserable people.
“Oh, but Dr. Cerreta, you just don’t understand. I have to worry. There’s just so much going on. Things are out of control. And besides, if I show enough ‘concern’ (a sometimes code word for worry) about it, I just might stop it from happening.“
Oh really? So how’s that been working out for you? No matter how much you worry, fret and fuss, you cannot “foolproof” your little world. But, you are right about one thing: life often seems very out of control ” more precisely ” out of your control.
Look, bad stuff happens. It doesn’t matter who you are. Happy people, sad people, good people, bad people, rich people, poor people ” even really hardworking, honest, God fearing people; we all experience challenging and deeply painful moments. Worry cannot resolve nor prevent a single one of them.
If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry about it. Worry never fixes anything.”
” Mary Hemingway
Thomas S. Kepler (1897-1963) was a respected biblical scholar, prodigious author and professor of New Testament studies at Oberlin College. Kepler also wrote a weekly syndicated newspaper column on religious issues. Some of you may already be aware of a story he once published about a woman who came to the realization that worry was ruining her life. According to Kepler, she began to keep track of what was distressing her. Evidently Mr. Kepler did a rudimentary statistical analysis of her notes and this is what he found:
- 40% of the things she worried about never happened.
- 30% of the things she worried about already happened (i.e. ” it’s the past, get over it).
- 12% of the things she worried about were the expectations, opinions and criticisms of others.
- 10% of the things she worried about were unnecessary health concerns, which actually made her health worse through prolonged anxiety.
- 8% of the things she worried about were “reasonable concerns,” since life does have some real challenges to overcome.
So, if just 8% of her fears were actually reasonable, how legitimate are your “worries?” I’d say there is a high degree of probability that you’re wasting a significant amount of time and energy fretting about things that are best left alone. No wonder you’re so worn-out. Apprehension is zapping your life energy. And for what benefit? As already stated, habitual and needless worry does not solve problems. And, even so called “reasonable concerns” are not an excuse for high anxiety. Most likely, your circumstances are not as ominous as you perceive them to be.
When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he too had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
– Winston Churchill
One of the most prolific contributors to the Bible’s New Testament was a pious man of faith named Paul. He was highly educated, and for a time greatly respected as a spiritual leader among first century Jews. Paul came to recognize that a man known at that time simply as Jesus was in reality a supernatural human fusion – Divinity incarnate in human form. The “birth” of Jesus fulfilled prophecies of a long awaited liberator who would come to the earth and deliver humanity from spiritual blindness and iniquity through a plan of redemption. Paul’s writings total at least 13 of the 27 books that comprise the New Testament. In addition to the theological teachings found in his epistles, he often included specific instructions for the various faith communities to which he wrote. One such letter was addressed to the early Christians living in ancient Philippi (a leading city of the district of Macedonia and an ancient Roman colony – Acts 16:12). Listen to these words of instruction,
6“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. (Philippians 4:6)
Let’s break that down.
- Don’t worry about anything.
- Talk to God about everything.
- Let God know your concerns (what you need).
- Thank God for His solutions.
Sounds simple, right? Not so much. Every word we just read is the absolute Truth, but it takes faith (trust) in a Divine power (God) that you cannot see and patient endurance to live it. There is a Payoff. If we incorporate this way of thinking into our lifestyle, Paul said,
7 “…you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
The peace of God will calm you down and bring a supernatural rest to your soul (mind, will and emotions) when you put your absolute trust in Jesus, the liberator of spaceship earth.
Now, check out these additional words of wisdom from the Bible,
4-5“If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself alone. 6 In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 TLB)
Got it? If you really trust in God, there is no defensible reason to worry. Remember, Jesus came to this planet to introduce us to a personal and relevant unseen “father” (God) ” not a religion. You can talk to your other worldly father (God) directly about your concerns and ask Him to help you.
When you finally decide that you will put God above everything else in your life and learn to consult Him first in every decision that you make; He will empower you to succeed at this thing called living. I didn’t say that you will never fail. Life is often full of setbacks and even some outright flops. Continue to acknowledge God first, and ‘He will direct your steps.‘ (Proverbs 3:6) Do this over a lifetime and He will crown your efforts with the recompenses of eternity.
If the Creator of the universe is on your side ‘whom or what shall you fear?’ To be worried sick about anything shows a lack of trust and as such is an insult to God.”
Worrying accounts for hours and hours of invaluable time that you will never get back. Can all the energy you’ve wasted so far on anxiety heal your body, change your grades in school, improve your job performance, resolve a budget shortfall or protect you from identity theft? Has stressing out ever solved anything? If you are at least willing to be honest with yourself, the answer is NO.
One more thought from the New Testament. Jesus was talking with some of his followers one day and he said to them,
30 “…You have so little faith! 31 Do not worry. Do not keep saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘What will we wear?’ 32 The people who do not really know God are looking for all these things. Your Father in heaven knows you need them. 33 First of all… Be right with Him. All these other things will be given to you also.” (Matthew 6:30b-33)
Why not give up all of your worries and fears by surrendering these so called “concerns” to God? He cares about you. He knows you better than you know yourself. He is also a fantastic listener. In fact, He is listening right now. Go ahead, talk to Him… Trust Him… Cast all of your cares upon Him… And please, stop worrying yourself to death!
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656