If you’re in overdrive worrying about current events, here are some tips for reining in the anxiety.
Posted in , Mar 3, 2020
I was doing my usual morning run in my New York City neighborhood a couple of days ago, and as I passed a streetlamp, I noticed something on it that said, “FBI.”
Oh, no, I thought, the FBI is trying to investigate some crime in the neighborhood. A killing perhaps? Some violence on the subway? Some criminal activity that I hadn’t heard about yet? Oh, dear. Something else to add to my worry list.
Yes, the news is full of stuff to worry about. Diseases, natural disasters and dire reports can allow worries to take over—if you let them.
But let me go back to what Jesus said about worry (something I have to remind myself of again and again and again—that’s probably why they say that the well-worn Bible usually belongs to someone who isn’t worn out).
“Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Jesus asks. And later observes, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
It’s only natural to worry and Jesus understands that. The ability to think ahead is what differentiates us from God’s other creatures and makes us capable of planning. But in the end, much is still outside our control.
So instead of giving myself a Ph.D for worrying, I’d like to be an amateur at it again. Like those birds of the air and the lilies of the field. That’s why in my prayer practice, I make a point of noticing my worries and then giving them back to God.
That includes worrying about a pandemic. Taking care of myself. Washing my hands well as is advised. “For as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday,’” a colleague noted. But not sending my brain up and down dreamed-up scenarios.
Let me go back to that notice about the FBI that I saw on the streetlamp. Remember where my mind went? All those terrible things I thought.
Guess what? Today when I ran by those signs, I understood why they said FBI. Trailers had been set up, big trucks had moved in, film crews were transporting carts of lighting equipment and long cords.
They were shooting an episode of a TV show called FBI.
Tomorrow indeed will worry about itself.