My Journey with being a Worry Wart

worry-wart

I remember being five or six years old when my mom brought me to the big family Bible and read from Matthew 6:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,[j] or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[k] 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God[l] and his[m]righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

The reason she read this to me? Because ever since I was born, I have been a big fat worry wart. I remember being a kid and worrying about the house burning down almost every night. I remember being in grade two and being stressed to the max about writing good sentences for my spelling lessons. Of course, as life went on, these stresses became more real, but looking back on the things I used to stress out about, I wish I could go back to my younger self and say, “Hey, it is going to be okay. I know.”

When my more debilitating health problems started to become a reality, the biggest stress for me was what am I going to eat! Initially, when my gut proved to be super irritated, I eliminated gluten and dairy. No big deal. But when that only gave me partial relief, I went on a more restricted elimination diet: get rid of tomatoes, sugar, corn, potatoes, peanuts, soy, eggs, etc. This provided a bit more relief, but I was still messed up, so I went on a strict SCD intro diet. (If you don’t know what that is, think broth, pureed carrots, bananas, applesauce, and lots of meat.) This took me to a new level of relief, but then I felt stuck. Whenever I tried to expand my diet with what seemed like the most innocent, nutritious foods, I would have problems. I eventually worked my way up to about 15 foods I could eat and feel somewhat okay. Every day, I worried about my safe foods not being safe any more. And you know, I hardly know what safe food is these days.

For a long time through my health struggles, I thought I was surrendering my life to God. What I was really doing was resigning it. Instead of saying “God, you got this. I trust that good will come of this,” I was saying, “You suck God. I can’t do this any more. You deal with it.” In what I would call my ‘resignation’ phase, I told God to deal with my life, but I didn’t trust Him enough to stop being a control freak about it. I always needed a back up plan in case He didn’t pull through. If God wasn’t going to provide me food to eat, I would figure it out for myself. (I never really figured it out though..)

In the midst of my resignation, I saw a priest to have him pray over me. I wasn’t physically healed at this time, but he said something that was so crucial for me to hear. Through my sobbing I managed to tell him that I felt helpless. And he said sometimes feeling powerless is a good thing. He went on to say that he believes all humans have the potential to go through three phases in life.The first phase is where most people stay for the majority of their life. This is the phase where you have a sense that you might not have control over everything in your life, but you still constantly challenge that notion because you either aren’t ready to let go of that control or you aren’t convinced of your powerlessness. The second phase is admitting that you are powerless, which he suggested was probably the phase I was entering. The last phase is admitting you are powerless and rejoicing in it.

About a year ago, when it seemed like shit was constantly hitting the fan and hitting it hard, I was somehow brought back to Matthew 6. I never thought I would take the line “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,[j] or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” so literally. God was speaking to me through this passage. Throughout my whole journey with illness up until that point, I had been praying for a break from my life. A time where I could rest and not have to worry about what I was eating and not eating. And all along, God was presenting it to me. He was my break, my forever break. My break from my fears, frustrations, and dead ends. I took extreme comfort in knowing that I am powerless, because I knew that this big weight I was carrying around wasn’t just for me to carry. I had given my best effort for so long to bring healing to my body, and I was so tired and exhausted from it all. I was so relieved that God was going to take over for me, or at least lift what I was dragging.

I don’t worry about what I am going to eat every day like I used to. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I get stressed out about my health and there are moments where my control freak wants to come out to play. But the strongest antidote to those moments for me is to say, “You got this God, especially if I don’t.” Worry can’t have me if I’ve given myself to God. And I’ve realized that I can’t just give myself to Him one day, or hour, and be good to go. I have to keep giving myself to Him over and over and over. Lucky for me, what he gives back is a lot more than what I am giving. I give Him fear, pain, stress, tears, and anger, and he gives me peace, love, joy, and grace for the day. Just about as miraculous as turning poo into diamonds.