By Andrew Shykofsky
In Luke 12:22, Jesus says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?“Consider how the wild flowers grow.They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
There is kindness and compassion in His words because He knows putting an end to worrying is not as simple as just deciding not to. One must explore their relationship to worry to know the full extent of why they choose to continue the habit. As well, something has to be in the place of worry for one to let it go completely. You will need an alternative process to help you put an end to worrying.
Worrying is bad habit. The origin of the word comes from Old Englishwyrganmeaning ‘to strangle’. Over time it developed to mean ‘to cause mental distress or trouble’. Let this definition come to mind when you realize you are worrying about something. You are strangling yourself and causing yourself mental distress. If you want to approach this issue spiritually, you will benefit from never defending the practice of worrying but fully committing to the teaching that worry yields nothing good.
A relaxed spiritual life has no room for worry. How can a disciple justify worrying when it so clearly drains energy and constricts expression? The spiritual side of worry is an indication of emotional attachments, lack of willingness to put forth consistent effort, lack of faith, and ultimately a lack of understanding of how life in God works. That’s a lot of lack! Let’s examine these one by one.
When we speak about emotional attachments, we are speaking about a tightness in our personal preferences for how we want things to go. It is understandable that we want things to go in a positive direction. That in itself is a good intention. The problem is that we haven’t accepted the despite all the best intentions, we can’t manage all aspects of all situations. With limited understanding, we try too hard to control too much while something inside of us knows there are unknowns that have the power to influence the outcome. Because we are so attached to things going the way we want coupled with the fact that we can’t guarantee everything will work out as hoped, there is a possibility of a bad outcome. This idea takes root in our minds and given the negative state of thinking that is prominent in our culture, we choose worry as a coping tool. We choose to strangle ourselves and cause mental distress.
The solution to this issue is learning detachment. Detachment is not equal to not caring. It is a state of being that accepts the out-of-control aspects of life. A spiritually mature person knows that controlling life shuts out God so they don’t attempt to. They also have developed practices for dealing with emotions such as disappointment and frustration that can be triggered when outcomes aren’t what were hoped for. Patiently meditating when having disruptive feelings is recommended.
Worry also exists when we don’t want to make a complete effort. One way to increase the probability of good outcomes is preparation. Preparation without worry is a beautiful thing. It is actually an expression of love. It’s you caring enough about the outcome to do everything you can to ensure things go well without getting tight. Too much preparation meaning trying to prepare for things that aren’t required or that are other people’s responsibility is worrisome.
Search within to determine which is easier for you; to put forth an incredible effort, doing all you can to prepare while remaining relaxed, or to decide that your effort won’t make much difference, not prepare very well and then choose to worry. Worrying in these instances gives you something to bond with other lazy people about. Finding strength and motivation to do all you can and put love into your preparation is what a disciple does. When you take this habit on, you soon develop confidence in what you can do and how much it matters.
Let’s talk about faith. The definition of faith is the belief in things not yet seen. It’s very simple and yet for some reason, in our culture we find it so much more attractive to NOT belief in the things not yet seen. Think of it like this; something not yet known is going to happen each moment as the day passes. The upcoming day is full of unknowns. A lack of faith which populates your consciousness is a choice to focus on everything that could go wrong. This becomes a prayer and thus is an expression of your creative energy. You will begin to create difficulties for yourself since you are focusing your attention in this way.
Much better would be to develop a faith based approach to your life. This touches on the point about preparation. In order to grow in faith, you need to make an effort in the preparation phase. You would decide that you want to experience a life that is more relaxed and tends towards better outcomes. At the same time, you know you can hardly control very much except for your level of effort and your responses to what happens. In this case, you realize that growing in faith is a seriously good investment of energy! The greater your faith, the less you worry.
Growing in faith is simple. It is a series of decisions that give you the courage and confidence to act in new ways. The first decision is you accepting that God loves you and wants a good life for you. If you can’t accept this, spiritual growth will be slow and painful. Try to take this on and let it permeate. Second decision; communicate what you want clearly and with conviction. Decide to communicate with God in prayer. Jesus said, ‘Ask it shall be given to you.’ So do so promptly. Decide that God has heard you and that He holds the ultimate delivery schedule meaning you can’t force the fulfillment of your prayer. But you can do all the prep that you can with a good attitude and a good courage. Decide to prepare and make a whole hearted effort.
Finally, decide to acknowledge the delivery of what you asked for without letting your mind corrupt it with negativity and sourness. Be relaxed and allow things to reveal the deeper truth in their own timing. Build up a case for how God DOES deliver for you what you want and need, and accept the trials you must face along the way.
Finally, let’s talk about the lack of understanding of how life in God works. Do you imagine that God worries about every little detail of everyone’s life? God cares deeply about each one of us but will not violate our free will. This means God has faith in us that we can make good decisions and have the innate ability to choose the righteous path. While God wants you to choose what is best for you, and He may experience sadness that you don’t, He isn’t worried about you in this way. Therefore, don’t worry about other people and their happiness.
Once people reach the age of 14, they have the development in consciousness to be responsible for their choices. Teens need more guidance and direction than adults do since they lack experience. But your lack of understanding of the soul is contributing to a lot of worry. The soul is given freedom by God to make what they want in life. You will note that Jesus was willing to do anything for those who humbly sought out help and were grateful for His willingness to grant them miracles. This is God in action. You are called to give all your energy and love for those who want help and demonstrate a good attitude.
If your family members (not including children under your care) don’t want peace, love or happiness but instead choose negativity, anger, blame, and fear, then you are better off distancing yourself from them, at least as far as their attitudes. Jesus is our example. He wasn’t attached to family or friends and didn’t waste time and energy trying to change people who were not willing. It wasn’t a lack of love but a higher wisdom. No one who doesn’t want to change or grow in love is going to change very much. It’s pride that gives you the idea you should be the catalyst for their change. Better to take that log out of your eye first.
Use the life force and intelligence God has granted you to focus on filling needs where there is willingness. Stop worrying about people who want to live in ways you don’t agree with. Stop trying to control your children’s lives and future. The best thing you can do for your children is to be a strong example of a real disciple. Learn how to do this and a prime way to do so is to decide that worrying is basically pride and self destruction. It’s an energy that drains the life force yields nothing but distress. It’s pride because it rejects the life of faith and chooses fear over love.
Learn what faith is and make a stellar effort to grow your faith. Ask sincerely for what you want but learn detachment from when and how it will come. Accept that God gives you that which fulfills your belief system and also what is right for you. Make a real effort to meditate and see things as God does. Do all you can to prepare for what is your responsibility but accept what is outside that parameter and give it over to God. You can be relaxed while you make an effort because you have grown in faith and trust what is coming is going to be good. Even if it’s hard, somewhere in the midst of it, you will find the blessing and liberation.
Teacher: Andrew Shykofsky