4.18.2011

Maybe Worry is the Wrong Word

"We have to fight them daily, like fleas, those many small worries about the morrow, for they sap our energies.... The things that have to be done must be done, and for the rest we must not allow ourselves to become infested with thousands of petty fears and worries, so many motions of no confidence in God." - Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life: the Journal of a Young Jewish Woman via Melissa Bridgman

I've come here to write this several times, only to delete the post, close my computer, and walk away. And then today, I read something that completely changed the post in my mind. Ginny over at Small Things wrote:

"I don't have to worry about things such as where the next meal I feed my children will come from. Those things that do worry me, they are actually signs of the blessings upon us."

I've been full to the brim with worry the last few weeks. Not to worry you, though. None of the worry is really my own. Like Ginny, I don't have to worry about where our next meal comes from. I don't have to worry about much, in fact. Yet . . .

I worry about neighbors who are out of work. Aging members of our extended family and those who take care of them. Other family members who are working around the clock to recover from a fire and rebuild their home. Friends struggling financially. Children living in broken homes. Unhappy marriages (thankfully not my own).

Then my mind leaves my own little corner of the world and finds even more worries - earthquakes, tsunami, tornadoes, civil war, political upheaval, to mention just a few things making the news.

IMG_6856


(A little collage I made featuring Lady Gaga lyrics and slave laborers in India. Yes, I've been in a weird place.)

Ginny's words made me reconsider my worried state. I think worry is the wrong word. I think the emotion I'm feeling is care. I care deeply about many people and many things. Up until now, I've been worried, and all that worry has brought me down and gotten me nowhere. All this worry has made it hard for me to come to this space and share pretty pictures and crafty projects.

Worry is a negative emotion. Care is positive.
Worry saps our energy (just like blame). Care fills our heart and lifts our spirit.
Worry makes us ineffective. Care makes us compassionate.
Worry can't help someone in need. Care can.

I'm shedding my worries. They're no good to me or anyone else. Already I feel better. Thanks for caring.

34 comments:

  1. What a sweet post! And I truly agree. Caring is a much better word, it makes you feel so much better!
    Have a good week, x

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  2. Love this post. This wisdom. Thank you.

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  3. I recently read a book that reminded me that worrying is a sign that I don't fully trust God's heart toward me. When I worry, I'm actually being a practical atheist. As a Christian, this really spoke to my heart. When does my worry actually accomplish anything? Mostly, it's just me gnawing like my dog with a bone.
    I love how you identified the difference between worry and care. Good one, Molly!

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  4. Wow...I've been in a very similar place...worry, worry, worry...broken relationships (not mine), a tragic fire and so many displaced families downtown, mine and everyone else's financial struggles, then all the bazillion things to worry (or care) about beyond my own little dot on the map. What a crushing burden!
    And what a perfectly simple way to redefine it. I'm going to use this, Molly...both to lighten the load and to redirect my energy. It's so much less exhausting to care for people than it is to worry about them.
    And btw, I've been reading An Interrupted Life off and on for the last six months. It's pretty amazing.

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  5. And when I send my worries to you, and you respond with such care, and wisdom, and humble kindness...I feel less worried, and very cared for. Cannot wait to cast our cares to the wind Friday!

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  6. Sometimes I think it is sad that these are what wake us up. Like we can't just be awake on our own without all the "bad" things. It is hard to stay in the posative. What I've been trying to do a lot lately is "breathe love"...I just feel love and breath it in good and deep. Then I mentally pas it on. I think that is helping me to remain in a posative mind set more than not. We live in wierd times indeed. Sending you love, kindness, compassion, and gratitude! We are all in this together.

    :)Lisa

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  7. beautifully written. i enjoyed ginny's post, too. i have been having trouble posting my pretty crafty pictures for many of the same reasons. too tired to respond properly but wanted to you to know you are echoing my thoughts here. the care you feel so deeply shines through in this space. big hugs, rae

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  8. I like these words. I struggle with this too. My husband reminds me we are to look at all things that happen to us as gifts... some days it is easier than others.

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  9. I fell asleep last night with an old, haunting Bright Eyes song running through my mind, and woke up with it still in my mind, and have been humming it all day. It starts like this:

    "Well the future's got me worried,
    such awful thoughts.
    My head's a carousel of pictures
    the spinning never stops..."

    And then I read your post. And heard the soundtrack right away.

    Care is such a good replacement for worry. Isn't it interesting how some of us seem to be born worriers, and some aren't? I don't tend to be a worrier, and I feel pretty darned lucky about that--but I like to think that I still care. I suppose instead of worrying, I tend to pray, and to try to do what I can to help whatever situation has me concerned. If I can

    Life just seems a little harder for worriers. I'm glad you've put a positive spin on your worries--I mean your cares!

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  10. Great way of looking at it, now I just need to re-adjust brain....

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  11. Well said. I love re-framing it as care or compassion.

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  12. Wonderful post, thank you for sharing. It puts things in perspective. Many years ago when I was overly worried about something I had no control over, my wise husband said, "Is there something you can do? Write a letter? Make a donation of some sort? Pitch in? If there is something you can do then do it, if there is nothing then pray and stop worrying because it isn't going to fix the problem." I try to refer to his words when I am worried and now, thanks to you I will try to convert my worrying into caring.

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  13. What a wise and insightful post! I am going to take this lesson and stick it deep into my brain to retrieve when necessary.

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  14. The fact that you are concerned outside your four walls indicates that you are in a healthy spot, actually. The worse things are the more we drawn attentions inward. Hurray for being able to see outward!

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  15. I have a fortune cookie fortune that I keep around that says, "never worry worry until worry worries you". I don't quite know what it means, but I still like it because it keeps me thinking that I really don't have too many worries- and really, can I change what the might bes or the what ifs? nope, probably not.
    I like your new spin on the word. (and your collage, those lyrics are sticky-in-your-head, no?)

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  16. i like your insights on this. food for thought...

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  17. Another great reminder. Since I have been going to the gym regularly, I have been exposed to more TV news. YUCK! It feeds into one's worry. I have already been reframing that which bothers me. With these reminders, I will continue to care for those around me and realize a positive heart can do wonders for one's outlook

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  18. I love how you have spun the worry around on its head, Molly. You have the positive in a negative emotion. It is this caring that makes you who you are and you should embrace it. You have already spread positivity by sharing this.

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  19. That picture is amazing.

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  20. i've been thinking a lot about compassion and selflessness lately. yesterday, while driving, i felt like i was approaching an epiphany about these things, but i didn't let myself go completely there cause i thought i might stop paying attention to the driving. darn!

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  21. Gosh Molly i have been feeling a lot of this post lately in my own life. I love your perspective on this and agree it is so much easier to "care" for others than worry. Thanks for this wise and thought provoking post. I totally love your picture and how it captures the mood and message so perfectly.

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  23. Oh, I read and re-read this one--your words really resonated with me (I've felt and feel those same exact emotions.). I'm off from worrying and onto caring!

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  24. Molly - so good of you to bare your soul, and what a lovely one it is. It's hard not to worry with all that is going on around us. It seems like everytime I pop into town I see more stores closed. I ran into a friend at the Supermarket whose husband is loosing his job with IBM after 20 years. THREE of my girlfriends' marriages are breaking up. The list goes on. How does one cope? For me, I guess raising teens and working at a church (office admn) has helped me cultivate a spiritual practice. And I have friends who are teachter trained for yoga, and we all agree, it doesn't matter what it is, but whatever it is, meditation, prayer, yoga, zen knitting, etc. . . do it DAILY and with intention and discipline. Take that time to turn those worries into prayer. It's a good path you're on, keep walking it. BTW - LOVE the collage!!

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  25. Love this view of "worry", Molly. When I'm tempted to visit the worry trail, I envision myself sitting in a rocking chair and not moving an inch. That's all worry gets me-standing in my own thoughts. Care is a much better verb. Care is something I can DO more effectively than worry.

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  26. I seem to come in and out of here from time to time. Everytime I come back though I find that you are doing something I've been thinking about or that you have the something to say that hits home and renders me speechless with it's wisdom. This is definitely one of those times. I'm constantly "Worried" about someone or something... now I can remember that it's not worry its caring.

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  27. i love your outlook, molly. i'm going to adopt it. care is so positive and everyone can use more positive.

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  28. This comment makes me re thankful for you

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  29. Thanks for sharing....

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  30. What a great post and so true about worry and care. It's the whole glass half empt or full thing if we actively view things in a positive manner even difficult things it helps both us to cope and for the outcome to head in the right direction ie a positive one.

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  31. mmm. the people around you are lucky to have you caring for them.
    I was in a bit of a shlump myself the past couple of months, and I rarely posted on my blog. I think there was just so much negativity brewin' in my brain, that I was having a hard time seeing all the goodness, all the happy, all the hope and care.I can see it now though, and I
    m not sure where the change of heart came from. Just grateful it came. I read your post twice to soak up your words fully. I do this often over here on FHC .

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  32. thank you for this molly. i am feeling quite worried these days and now i see i am only hurting myslef and the ones i care most about by filling my heart with fear.

    thank you

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  33. What Tara said - you've spread so much positivity with this post already. Thank you!
    You may not be around here as much as you once were, but when you are it's magic.

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  34. Hi Molly....
    Love your post. I think we have all been in that mood at some time or the other. Our lives give us a closed perspective before we wake up and take note. We always think that grass is greener on the other side till we notice that there are those dried patches over the fence........
    I am from India and cannot but correct your statement of 'slave laborers in India'. These are construction workers. They are the daily wage earners of our society. They do this of their own will and are not driven into it. They are not paid as much as they should be and that is where the construction companies violate the laws. But, it would be incorrect to call them 'slaves' which would imply that they are coerced into it. I am not justifying anything here. Just clarifying. Forgive me if my post sounds rude because that is definitely not the intention. I really enjoy your blog and have been going through it at length..........

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