Tuesday, January 10, 2012

VERSE- Discarding Worry

Matthew 6:34
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

It's easy to get caught up in the flurry of activity that happens each and every day. It's easy to lose track of the hours, the days, the weeks as you keep looking ahead. Sometimes it's out of fear or dread- a midterm to study for, a paper or project that needs to be finished, an interview to prepare for. Sometimes it's out of anticipation or longing- looking forward to the next break from school just as one finishes (I've been guilty of that). This verse always helps me to calm down, to slow down my thoughts and instincts to plan ahead, and instead to see the beauty in each and every new day.

I think as a whole, teens are more versed with stress than any other age group, especially in the variety of things that stress us out and the way they always build off each other. It's a very vulnerable stage to pile on so many responsibilities, expectations, relationships, fears, hopes, dreams, and changes. During my junior year I felt like I was constantly drowning in things to do- SAT prep, AP courses, clubs, music, sports- and yet I always wanted to take that "break-" a night to go out with the guys, a weekend to relax and catch up on sleep, a movie with the family. Add procrastination to the mix and I was a wreck many nights during the week. I would stay up past midnight, feeling guilty about losing sleep but also wondering if I could be any more productive. During showers I mentally ran through a list of "Things to Worry About," which added my own expectations and goals on top of my homework and extracurriculars. I would wake up each morning feeling stressed, as if I was always forgetting something, wondering what the day would bring, how I would survive to the next weekend, which sometimes were even more loaded with activities and responsibilities than the weekdays. It definitely wasn't a good feeling.

I wish I realized then the futility of always anticipating the future, of worrying about tomorrow even before it happens. It multiplied my fears and stress levels when in fact each school day was very manageable. The problem was that I put the weight of the entire week onto one school night. And if you're still in high school, here's a tip that I picked up: the next time you look down in your planner and just groan at the amount of STUFF you have to do, banish all negative thoughts from your mind. Stop thinking that it'll "take you forever" or that "you have sooo much to do," or that you're the "unluckiest and busiest person in the world," or that "my life sucks right now." Seriously, just don't do that. It's a rather annoying mechanism of the mind, but one that I find just makes the situation worse. You'd be surprised how much you exaggerate your own misfortunes. Say you do a school sport and get home after a game, eat dinner, and it's 7:30 pm. You have an average of four and a half HOURS before midnight (sometimes more, sometimes less). If you actually truly think about what you have to get done, often it doesn't take as long as you think (or fear) it will. The dread and apprehension clouds your mind and makes the horror a self-fulfilling prophecy. Tell yourself that you have plenty of time and that you'll be fine. Finish up the day's work and breathe a sigh of relief.

That's why Matthew 6:34 was and is so important to me. There's no use in worrying about tomorrow if you don't even know what tomorrow is going to bring. What's the use of planning the rest of your life, for example, if the world's just going to end in 2012? The point is to surrender your life to God. Once you do, you realize how meaningless certain pressures in your life become. To an extent, God's not going to care what you get on that chem test, or how well you hold up on your job, or how "overachieving" your activities compared to others. He DOES care about how much faith and trust you can place in him. The story from Mark 12:41-44 reassures me, about the poor widow who put in two copper coins, which was all she had. She probably wasn't worrying about tomorrow or how she would feed herself the next day when she gave her offering. And if she could do that, place tomorrow's anxieties into God's caring hands, with basically her entire life on the line, you can certainly start to do that as well.

Take your life one day at a time. Trust God and allow him to lift some of the burdens in your life right now. Remember Matthew 6:34 whenever you are up late at night, worrying about tomorrow and whether or not you should go to sleep or work some more. Remember, God doesn't want you to live in constant worry or anxiety. That's how you get gray hair and wrinkles. Seek God and then go to bed easy, knowing He will definitely take care of you.

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