A Homily on Worrying (To, Mostly, Myself)

Jesus tells his followers in Matthew chapter six not to worry about their lives, what they will eat and what they will wear. He points to birds who don’t farm yet are fed and flowers that don’t make clothes yet are well-adorned. In light of these, Jesus says, don’t worry.

Instead, strive for the Kingdom of God. The food and clothing will follow.

This is hard instruction in my house these days. I shared last week about a major transition in the works for us, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found worrying to be the best way to get through transitions. When the future is uncertain, worry about it. Even if the worry adds nothing, it at least delivers the satisfaction of taking the situation seriously.

If you’re not worrying, you’re not paying attention.

I’ve also been reading Anne Marie Slaughter’s Unfinished Business, which is all about taking down the illusion that women and men (but mostly women) can “have it all” in terms of ambitious careers and healthy families. There’s a lot to worry about in that book, like the observation that, in an increasing share of college-educated families (mine included), women are the primary wage earners, and yet most are carrying that load on top of unrealistic expectations about being a wife and mother, and without the benefit of flexible working arrangements.

So I’m about to yank my family’s primary wage earner out of her job to move us to a new city where she doesn’t yet have a job, and it’s appearing less and less likely that she’ll find one that pays her as well as her current one or that provides more flexibility than she already has, which is none.

Yeah, I’m worried about that. I’m more worried about it every day.

The two assurances that Jesus wants his followers to hear in the midst of our worry about tomorrow are 1) God knows, and 2) we’re valuable.

That the thing we’re fretting about is known by another–that helps, right? Also, doesn’t it help to know that God is at least as worried as we are?

This is just a start. And it doesn’t address the very real experience of anxiety that, for many people, requires medication. Enduring that anxiety is not a sin. I don’t think chastising the anxious with platitudes about not worrying is what Jesus is about. I think Jesus takes anxiety and depression dead seriously, so I do too.

May you know your value as you strive for the Kingdom of God, and may worry be a fleeting companion.


2 thoughts on “A Homily on Worrying (To, Mostly, Myself)

  1. Cheryl Lewis says:

    In “A Man Called Peter” by Catherine Marshall, a partial biography of her husband, Peter Marshall, she told of her stress and anxiety trying to find new housing for them. She said she decided that perhaps her anxiety was getting in the way oi God providing. And when she stopped worrying, she found the house they needed. And, just perhaps, this is a new door for your wife, too, and she will find new direction or purpose, something that opens her heart to new things. If you haven’t read that book, you should, but since you’re Presbyterian it was probably required reading at some time.

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