“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
― Corrie ten Boom
One of my all-time favorite things to say is this: We only get this ONE CHANCE...this ONE life. I use it when I'm trying to decide if I should clean my sty of a living room or go out to dinner with friends (dinner wins, hands down). I use it when I'm opting to take my kids camping instead of staying home. I use it when I sit down and play games with Thing 2 instead of doing the dishes. And now, I've started applying it to worry with a little added spin: If I die tomorrow, is this important?
I'm not a BIG worrier anyway. But every now and again, I get caught in some weird spiral which usually results in me being wide awake at 3 a.m. dealing with ALL the "issues" in my life. Most of the time, I choose NOT to worry (because, believe it or not, worry IS a CHOICE) but sometimes my guard is down when I'm feeling particularly lonely or sad or overwhelmed.
Things You Don't Have to Worry About
- Stuff. The kid with the most toys at the end does NOT win. If you collect ALL the world's Star Wars figurines and store them on the shelf in pristine condition, you do not win. Ask yourself what PLEASURE they are bringing to you and/or to others. I don't worry about my STUFF. Ever. Ask my kids. If they break something, I usually figure out if they're OK and then I sigh, shrug my shoulders and say, "Accidents happen." Unless it's something we NEED, I usually don't bother replacing it. There is sometimes a pang when it's something that someone special gave to me...but, in reality, I have memories of that person. The "stuff" is just representative. I choose not to worry about stuff.
- Money. Money isn't everything. It isn't ANYTHING, other than a tool. I know it's a shocker but I really try not to worry about money...even when I don't have very much of it. I use money as it's meant to be used: a tool. I share it. I give it away when I can. I use it to make memories with other people. But if I were dying tomorrow, I wouldn't think about all the money I'm missing out on. And, as the saying goes, I certainly can't take it with me. I choose not to worry about money.
- Work. Work gets me down sometimes. I focus on getting my job done (and done well) but I know it's not something I am in love with at this point. I am looking for fulfilling work that I am passionate about. But every day, I pull myself AWAY from worrying about my job. I choose not to worry about my work.
- Health. It's easy not to worry about health when you have it. But my knees are shot. I'm looking at double knee replacement a few years down the line. I try to eat right. I exercise at least a little bit almost every day. I do what I can. And I realize that my health is somewhat in my control. But I could be blindsided at any moment. I don't worry about it though. It is what it is. I choose not to worry about health.
- Kids. This is one I struggle with. Because if I were dying tomorrow, I WOULD worry about my kids. I love Thing 1 and Thing 2 with every breath in my body. I want them to make good choices. I want them to live long, healthy, happy, caring, loving, fulfilling, nurturing, true lives. But I am NOT THEM. I can't live their lives for them. All I can do is provide them with tools to live a beautiful life. I can give them a sense of safety. I can show them what faith looks like. I can act with kindness toward them. I can provide unconditional, faithful love. I can teach them to communicate effectively with people they love and with people they've just met. But I can't do it for them. I can't make their choices. I can only trust that they will take this solid foundation we've attempted to give them and make their own lives in the best way they know how. I choose not to worry about my kids.
- Love. I sometimes believe that I will die alone and, after my dead carcass rots away for a few weeks or months, that not a soul will come to my funeral. I realize this is overly dramatic because my children will almost CERTAINLY feel obligated to attend. I am not always a good friend. And I wasn't always a good wife. And I wasn't a good girlfriend at times. And I am alone. Being alone can be scary. But then...just when sadness starts etching away at my happiness, love finds me. A friend calls to have lunch. Someone else calls out of the blue just to say hello. I am pretty sure that this is where God shows up. Love exists in my life in beautiful and profound ways...and not always in the way I would have expected years ago. But it's real. And it's solid. And I can depend on it. I choose not to worry about love.
- Living. I work hard to do this life right. Every day, I make choices that I hope are better than the day before. I learn and I give and I love with all that I have. I screw up. I start over. I hurt the feelings of people I love. I get angry when I shouldn't and I build massive walls almost instantaneously. But I apologize. And I knock down the walls. And I start over. I work hard at this life. I try to appreciate the gift that it is. I choose not to worry about life.
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