Teenagers worried about facial blemishes before prom? No worries. There is no prom. Worker worried about having to take an extra break? No worries. She’s working remotely from home, downed a whole pot of coffee and needs an extra bathroom break. Who will know? Worried about how far I can drive once my gas light comes on? No worries. Gas stations are essential businesses. There isn’t any regular school and you are the teacher to your children? No worries. You made it through third grade. You got this.
Of course, however, we are worried. It’s what you do in the middle of a global pandemic. Someone you know may have contracted the virus. You might be in danger of contracting or spreading the virus. Deaths on a level only known in times of major wars and plagues continue to mount. What, me worry?
There are a lot of ways that worry comes out in our lives and experience. Some people are literally hand wringers. Some are pacers, wearing a worry path in the carpet. Some might be talkers who have to get it out there for others to hear. Other responses to worry about things as life-changing as our current circumstances also can come out in ways that create other issues.
For some people, intense worry comes out as anger and aggression. We can see it in some of the over-the-top social media that we are seeing. The thing that worries us is seen as a personal threat that not only puts a person on ultra-high alert but causes them to see those who don’t share their same level of anxiety as enemy or “the other.” In these cases, the worry taken to extremes divides us rather than uniting us in the midst of a common source of worry and concern with a purpose to look outside of ourselves with compassion, not hate and anger; to look at others as joint travelers and not the enemy and an added threat.
For other people, worry can lead to isolation and sometimes a deepening depression. They may turn the worry inward and make it a part of themselves, leaving them paralyzed with fear, self-doubt and a desire to hide within oneself for protection.
In the passage of scripture traditionally known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (NRSV) Easy for him to say. I don’t think, however, that worry is wrong or some kind of sin. Worry is natural. It is a defense mechanism. So are hope and gratitude. These are things that can counter some of our worry right now. We live today in a world situation that is troubling. We also lived yesterday and know things for which to be grateful. There will be life tomorrow and that offers hope. Today and today’s worry is not all the life there is. Let’s share stories of gratitude. Let’s share stories of hope. What, me worry?
Dan Dixson is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He serves as Chaplain and Bereavement Specialist at Partners In Home Care Hospice and can be reached at email@example.com.