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Friday, July 20, 2007

On Worry and Trust in God

As my regular readers know, I recently gave notice at my job, and my last day is August 3rd. I have nowhwere to go...yet. Then my Greyhound required some emergency vet bills, some ongoing treatment to control infection and pain, and this is still ongoing. And the deadline for Grad school registration is coming up.

By nature, I'm a worry-wart. I can't make decisions without great agony and without the sense of a worry-knife twisting in my gut, reminding me that I'm likely making a bad decision with bad repurcussions. Sometimes that knife-twist is right, but more often, it's wrong, as Et-tu Jen points out in her post.

Some of the best advice I've heard in recent years came from a homily our priest gave last December. He was talking about worry, and threw out some amazing statistics about what people worry about: I don't recall the exact numbers, but the majority of things that people worry about are future events -- and at least half of those never even happen.

So I resolved to stop worrying about the future so much, and the results have been really interesting. I never cease to be amazed at how often things that I was just sure were going to happen ended up playing out entirely differently than I'd expected, weren't as bad as I thought, or never even happened at all. At least a few times a month I find myself thinking, "Wow, I'm glad I didn't waste time worrying about that, since it's all moot now." (Which is not to say, of course, that I don't have any problems! Just that things often happen differently than I would have expected.)

(Go read the rest. Well worth it!)

She sure got my attention with that post...what she says is so true and this truth has been born out time and time again. And yet I worry.

Of late, whenever worry has started to eat at me, typically it's been about odd things, not the big ones. Such as; I need to go shopping for clothing for a different job, for a new interview suit as my old one no longer fits and can't be tailored, what am I going to do for food when my money runs out..etc.

I have some friends who can offer me some part time retail work, no bennies, but the cash will pay some bills. And I could find on call and PT work, or $8.00/ hour the basics will be there. I have friends who would invite me over for dinner, I have frozen and canned food to last awhile, and I can call the utility companies and my lienholders to discuss options before things get out of control.

When I worry about these little things, then, this is what continually comes to mind:

MT 6:

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), 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 in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?
27 Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
28 Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. 29 But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.
30 If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
31 So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' 32 All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, 19 and all these things will be given you besides.
34 Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

Here's what's so ironic; I'm not worrying about what I SHOULD be worrying about, and that, at its very core, is worrisome. I could lose my house, thus destroy my credit, destroy any credibility I have with my extended family (I'm already the black sheep of my generation so how much credibility I have is already in question), I could get my car repossessed, thuse losing any ability to get to work, to the job I don't have yet...etc.

Yet I'm not worried. Have I gone BEYOND worry into complete insanity? I should be worried about all those things, but no, it's the small things in life that have me concerned. No, I have not learned to live in the present, but of late I've read a few things that have given me some perspective.

Are you aware that in Europe, they traditionally have shorter working hours and a typical vacation allowance of six weeks? SIX WEEKS! Of VACATION TIME! That completely blows me away. Here in the U.S., were lucky to get two weeks of vacation allowance, and often sick time is rolled into that time off. And if we miss too many days, even for legitimate reasons that can be backed up, employers often have the right to let us go for "absenteeism".

When taking this under advisement, and considering all the people, typically in high-stress but well-paid professions, who take "Sabbaticals", I've come to realize that perhaps what I need is a "Sabbatical" and this is going to be provided to me, whether I want it or not, and if God has decided that this is what I need, then He will provide for my NEEDS...not my wants. This is going to be a period of simplification, and I'm the first to admit I need it.

The last time I was unemployed, it was due to injury and I was paid a Work Comp wage, which was adequate as I did not own a house at the time. I had to report to a counselor every week, who told me I had to document 8 hours per day of job searching, I had to come in every other week to "prove" I was seeking employment, and she was completely unqualified to judge what I was or was not doing because her knowledge did not extend to goverment jobs. (ie: if one calls, say, a county office every week to inquire about the status of an app, when each applicant is told up front in writing what that status will be and how long it will take, etc...well, said applicant is likely to get theri app lost somewhere). I had to explain this process over and over. I have a degree in Criminal I can work in government offices. Which has a very specific hiring process. It was a miserable summer, I didn't have God although I was in the process of conversion, and in hindsight, I saw a lot of things I could have done had I not been wasting so much time arguing with Work Comp people who had no idea what they were doing. In their defense, they really dealt with a lot of people who were not educated and who did not know how to seek employment. I didn't fit their profile and squirmed under their scrutiny.

And the irony...oh, the irony! When I finally was offered a position, with the company I am now leaving, my counselor asked me, "Do you think you'll be happy doing that? Handling claims? Working for an insurance company?"

This, from a woman who told me I should go flip burgers, which would NOT have been "indemnification". This, from a woman who went out of her way to clip job ads from a newspaper without reading them in light of my qualification and experience. This, from a woman who wanted so badly to be rid of me she suggested I apply to be a Wilderness Counselor or a Police Captain. (My reply: I couldn't lead myself out of the wilderness, much less a bunch of wayward delinquents, and for the latter...whose world are you living in?)

I had to waste time writing letters in my defense as the employment wheels turned, I bombed several interviews, and finally got the job that has made me miserable for the last five years. And I took it out of pressure, because I was desperate to get out of my situation. It was the first offer to come along, and I know darn well that had I turned it down, I would have been absolutely crucified.

So I have to admit that I'm entering this time of unemployment with a sense of freedom, recognizing I could lose my house, but thrilled I don't have to lose my mind. Thrilled that this time, no one is breathing down my neck. If the creditors do, so be it. Right now my credit is excellent and I'll work hard to keep it so. But for now, I'm fine. For now, I have hope, and a sense that I should batten down the hatches and prepare to live an austere existence for the next couple months.

Hopefully I'll find a good job, though, by the end of August. I'm well qualified for many things,and after this sabbatical I'm taking, I'll be able to enter the workforce with renewed energy, confidance, and a sense of purpose.

We all need a break. I'm taking mine now, and all I can do is trust in God.

Is this that fabled "sense of peace" people refer to with regard to discernment?

I apologize this is getting long, but sorry, I'm not done yet. My opinion and meandering rages on...

From Jen's post:

I was reminded of all this when I came across a wonderful excerpt from "The Secret of a Happy Life", by Fr. Lasance over at one of my favorite blogs, Starry Sky Ranch. It's so beautiful...and so true...and so something I really need to remember in the coming months:

One secret of a sweet and happy Christian life is learning to live by the day...Life does not come to us all at one time; it comes only a day at a time. Even tomorrow is never ours until it becomes today, and we have nothing whatever to do with it but to pass down to is a fair and good inheritance in today's work well done, and today's life well lived.

It is a blessed secret this, of living by the day. Any one can carry his burden, however heavy, till nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however heavy, till nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, until the sun goes down. And this is all life ever means to us - just one little day. "Do today's duty; fight today's temptations, and do not weaken or distract yourself by looking forward to things you cannot see and could not understand if you saw them." God gives us nights to shut down upon our little days. We cannot see beyond. Short horizons make life easier and give us one of the blessed secrets of brave, true, holy living.

Oh, yes, what a quote with regard to worry! Also the reason I'm not a saint.

Living in the present; choosing the right thing at every moment. I'm thrilled, and so is God, if I can go 30 seconds without giving in to some type of everyday temptation. Big not-so-secret thing about me; each day is a struggle in this walk to holiness. Each day presents challenges I either cannot or refuse to overcome, because I'm way to comfortable in my regular habits and vices. I'm way too comfortable with my favorite sins. I highly doubt that this problem will come to an end with the job. The temptations will change; my ability to handle them will not, so I pray that I do go to Mass every day, that I do work to cultivate a deeper prayer life, that I do committ to making a schedule and keeping it, so as to maintain some sort of discipline to keep my life afloat and respectful.

I should be worrying about all these things, but I'm not. And yet, I can't say I entirely trust in God, although this experience may bring me closer to this goal.

It's all about trust in God, and while I say I trust Him, I have serious reservations I'm fighting to overcome. But God is faithful, even in cleaning up the messes we make. Are you willing to come along with me on this ride? All for the glory of God...because for me, there will only be humiliation should my worries come to pass, and God cannot be blamed for my own mistakes. All I can do is trust, and pray, and go on.

Life is a gift....all I want is to find that gift again.


Kiwi Nomad said...

Hope it all works out well.
I agree with what you say about worry. I was very worried about cycling in France last year before I started and lost quite a lot of sleep. Eventually I wrote a list of all the things I was worried about, and what I could do to address them,eg get a list of camping grounds from the tourist office so I knew which towns/villages I could stay in. The irony was that the one thing that did go wrong (on Day 1 - meeting a jerk of a man in a car which was very very scary) .... I had not written on my list!!!!!

Melody K said...

Thanks for including the quote by Fr. Lasance, it is beautiful and so true. And it reminds me that I have a prayer book by Father Lasance that was my grandmother's. I am ashamed to say that I never looked inside it, but put it...somewhere...for safekeeping. I have no idea where. It must have been a good prayer book because the cover was about worn out and there were bazillion holy cards in it to mark different pages. Now I'm going to go nuts looking for it!

Adoro said...

Kiwi ~ Glad you're OK! Jerks of men in doesn't get much worse than that, no matter where you are!

Melody ~ I have never read the book, but I love the quote. I took it from Jen's post. Seems to me this would be a good book for all of us!

Anonymous said...

let's all go fishing!
i know of people who can spend the whole day and half the night in complete and utter contentment as long as they have a rod & reel handy and a place to drop a line into the water.
it seems there do not even have to be any fish in the area. they can sit on the bank or in a boat or on the bridge or dam and enjoy the day doing almost nothing at all, it seems.
this has never appealed to me ... except when i see the seemingly contented un-worried souls actually appearing to enjoy life.
my usual take is something along the line of "what an absolute waste of time! they should be out there DOING something ... something that would benefit others and foster growth in the kingdom."
But maybe, just maybe, we all should go fishing!

Adoro said...

uncle jim ~ Oh, fishing indeed!

You should check out this post I wrote about fishing:

Fishing is one of the best things someone can do. I haven't gone in years and don't own a pole, but I'd LIKE to go. Hmmm....I have a local friend who likes to fish. Maybe she has a spare rod and hooks, and would lend me one and of course go with me one of these days. I must ask her.

Anonymous said...

i practice living in the present moment, & an 18 month course of 12 step therapy got me living 'one day at a time' & an old school teacher of mine used to continually say 'let the days own troubles be sufficient for the day'& i have a book 'Never trouble trouble!
However i can only do the above with the help of grandmother was a worrier, as is my mom, sister..also a lot have OCD where their thoughts constantly ruminate.

You sound as though you're doing well..i'm just so grateful to be experiencing that peace of mind you mention..

God bless

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Thanks for the links! And congratulations on your upcoming freedom. I pray that this will be a very fruitful time for you. Can't wait to hear about it!

Adoro said...

Mrs. Jackie Parkes ~ so true that some people have OCD and literally can't live one moment at at time. I am doing OK. I'm a worrier, but God's grace is sufficient. I think all any of us can do is "practice" living in the moment, and let God step in. Practice is key.

jennifer f. ~ Thanks. It's exciting for me, too, albeit scary. I'm glad I don't have scorpions, though.

Anonymous said...

great connect with 'daddy's little girl' post
love is all around