This is 31 Conversations From the Front Porch Day 14… you can find the rest of the series here.
Day 14: Worry is a Waste of Time (Ask Me How I Know)
A year ago this past weekend we closed on our first home in Maryland. We had lugged all our boxes and furniture into this not so little blue house in the city on the very last day of September which also happens to be my hubby’s birthday, and then we pulled out of the driveway not knowing when we would be able to return.
- They kept pushing back the closing date.
- The state needed another notarized affidavit.
- The city wanted another inspection.
- The mortgage company was on hold waiting for all the loose ends.
There was not ONE thing I could do. I had made the calls. I had already signed every form they requested. Our Realtor pushed. Our loan officer pulled strings.
We had to be out of our rental so we put our things in the new house… and headed north for an impromptu vacation with family.
I can remember driving that night through the traffic, our truck loaded with all the things we might need in the meantime… plus all the kids. I recall the raindrops starting to appear on the windshield and seeing lightening tumbling across the evening sky in the distance. I remember pulling into a hotel before the weather got bad, telling the kids it was an adventure, and seeing my own exhaustion being mirrored in my husband’s face.
The kids remember – sleeping in queen-sized beds in that hotel off the interstate. They remember eating breakfast at the Waffle House the next morning. They remember being excited and the fun. And how the sky let the rain loose just as we got everyone into our hotel room…
They remember all of the good things and none of the stress.
I remember that heavy anxiety of not knowing when it was all going to come together.
And 9 days later when the call finally came at 5pm the night before we were scheduled to close -that we were good to go –anxiety did not offer one good thing to any of it. NOT ONE GOOD THING.
I remember feeling in my heart that everything would all work out and it did… but still allowing anxiety to have too much say in that situation.
I had allowed my fears to rule my thoughts and the state of my heart more than my faith. They were battling it out inside of me.
I now regret having spent any amount of time allowing worry to have a voice.
I know now that my worry did not offer one good thing into that situation. Fear added nothing to what we were doing together.
Life Lesson: I should have prayed more and shut up more.
If anything my worry – sucked the life out of an impromptu family visit and our great unexpected family adventure.
Life Lesson: I should have had more fun.
It was a getaway we would not have taken – unless we were forced to. And it was a trip we needed after all the stress of buying a house and waiting for a new baby and experiencing my body reject everything about being pregnant.
It was time my family would have remembered – when just a few short months later I was hospitalized with a blood clot in the lung. These would have been our last adventures together – the moments we laughed through while my spirit stressed. The moments I did not enjoy because my brains were occupied elsewhere. I didn’t lean in to the difficulty with intention and joyful expectancy. And these could have been the very last things my kids would have remembered about me…about us together.
I believe that is what worry and fear does to our lives: they take from us the present – the gift of now.
- They take us from the moments that we should enjoy…
- They take us from the people we should be leaning into…
- and they insist on having our complete attention.
Anxiety is a selfish bitch. She does not like to share. So she takes over our thoughts and our memories, our futures, and our adventures and she makes them all about herself. And we let her.
We give fear permission to speak.
We let worry have the reins.
We allow anxiety to rent headspace.
And in the process we miss out on
the great moments when
God shows up, love shows up, life shows up
to encourage us, teach us, or mold us into braver, happier, fiercer, kinder,
more courageous human beings.
For 10 days last year I let worry win…and she didn’t add anything to the story. She sucked the life from it.
You bet I am not going to let that happen again.
Worry is on notice.
Exercises For Your Own Front Porch Conversations
Thoughts: Some people are bent towards worry, fear, and anxiety more than others.
- What about you? Are you prone to anxiety? Fear? Worry?
- Does your fear, worry feel rational?
- Name the top five things that cause you to worry?
- Name your top five fears?
- Explain a moment when you allowed anxiety to have control of your story. What do you regret in that?
- How can you make conscious choices about your fear so that it no longer controls your journey?
- Do you take walks? Medication? Meditate? Pray? Yoga? Writing? Dancing? Painting?
- Is your go-to reaction to the unexpected or frustrating experiences – anxiety, fear or worry?
- Is anxiety something you need help regulating so you take medicine? It is OK to need meds. It is brave to admit you require help. Are you also seeing someone to talk it through? Are you speaking with a professional who can help you sort out the root causes of your worry? Is someone walking you through your irrational fears? Is someone helping you choose new, healthy strategies?
Putting It Into Practice a Year Later: A few weekends ago I got a letter in the mail that I could not do anything about until Monday morning. It felt like a test to stretch into what I have learned in the past year about my tendencies to dwell in and keep company with anxiety. So I intentionally set the letter aside. Any time the thoughts of what could happen, what I might have to do to rectify the situation, what it could all mean, what the consequences could be, how prepared I might NOT be, etc…. when all that worry started to make my heart race and it threatened to take up headspace for the rest of the weekend I intentionally chose to put anxiety in a time out. I told it to get in the corner that it was not allowed to visit this weekend.
The thing is that I had to remind myself of what I was choosing and remind my worry about that choice… often. I was far more productive, and had more fun with my family because of the choice I made to NOT allow anxiety to have the final say.
It was not perfect, but I feel like I am equipped to conquer my natural leanings… replacing them with healthier choices.
By Monday morning and after two phone calls the letter I received was obsolete – it had all been resolved without me.
My worry would not have added one good thing.