Yesterday in the car, my four year old daughter informed me that she was worried ‘about a lot of things.’
I asked her what they were.
She told me, ‘well, Georgia for one – that she will wander off or get hurt.’ Georgia is her 17 month old sister.
‘My toys,’ she says.
Whew! These are things I can handle I think to myself!
‘Well, Claire‘, I tell her, ‘whenever you are worried, say a prayer. Tell God that you are worried. God, I worry about my sister. Please help me to look after her, and please keep her safe.’
‘And then give that worry to God. And you don’t have to be worried anymore.’
Good job, Mom. I mentally think to myself patting myself on the back.
‘But God is not real, Mom.’
‘Huh? What? Come again?’
‘He is not real, Mom, because he is dead and in heaven and so he is just pretend.’
Oh! To see the inner workings of a four year old’s mind! What a privilege and wonderful ride parenthood is.
‘Claire, God is more ‘real’ than anything else. He is not just in heaven, but he is everywhere. God made everything, and because of that, he is in everything. He is in you, he is in me, and he is in that plant and that tree.’
The weight of that sits in her mind, and I give a silent prayer that it takes seed.
Where would I be without God?
I wake up talking to God. I go to bed talking with God. And how many times during the day do I call on him?
It has not been an easy path to get to where I am.
In my middle age, on my second marriage and with four children from 17 months old to thirteen, I am learning how to live a healthy life and build a healthy support network. And meanwhile, when the people who should ‘have my back’ do not, God is the one I call on.
God is the one who reminds me that I am beautiful, that I am capable and that I am loved.
I do not say this lightly: without God, I could be that poor lady who drove her car into the capital with her one year old in the back seat. That is how alone and hopeless I have felt at times during my life.
And every time, I have hit the depths of despair, it is God who has pulled me back up.
She is definitely my child.
I grew up on ‘worry’. I was fed, breathed and raised with worry. It seeped into the marrow of my bones where it bubbled up in paralyzing panic attacks.
The bible says in Matthew 6:25-34:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
This phrase made me feel better until I thought about it more.
Not all of the birds flourish. Just the other day, my cat deposited one on my doorstep that did not look flourishing.
And so my ‘worry’ continued.
But is this a way to live life? So much of my life has been spent with this ball of worry, this unshakable feeling that something, something is wrong … or if it isn’t now, it soon will be.
And if things are going ‘good’, watch out, enjoy what you can, because pain and suffering is around the corner waiting to hit you when you least expect it, so expect it!
Phewy! This kind of thinking had to go!
It was not instantaneous, it was slow and arduous work and prayer.
But one day, not too long ago, I felt it on my shoulder.
An old friend.
And there amidst my concerns and challenges and exhaustion, she sat.
I noticed her in the way the leaves on the trees waved. I noticed her in a friend’s smile. A giggle bubbling up from my toddler. A pleasant moment spent with my tween. A heron sunning on a rock in the river. The geese coming in for a landing. My lungs doing their job as I ride my bike along the river path.
I am not sure when, but at some point in my life, I lost her.
And now she is back.
All we have is this moment. And you have to store up and appreciate those good moments so that when the bad, the challenging, the heart-breaking ones come, you have the strength, courage and wisdom to handle them.
Worrying will not add hours to your life, but it will take them away.
John Denver with his song ‘Sweet Surrender’, it was a good thing for him not to see the end, because the end came too soon and was not pretty when he had that accident in his experimental airplane.
Was this another lesson? Maybe he should have been worrying a bit more.
If you have not lived with anxiety, constant worrying and the debilitation of panic attacks, you may not understand this next statement.
But if you have, you will.
I would rather have fewer days of really living than a long life filled with fear and anxiety.
And that is why we learn to live without constant worrying. That is why we learn to live with vulnerability and love, wearing our heart on our sleeve and choosing to trust that God will provide for us each day.
We learn to let that that bluebird sit on our shoulder as long as he may.
Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care,
like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.*
From John Denver’s song “Sweet Surrender”