What a week. It began with a quick trip from Michigan to Florida to visit my parents and grandparents. It was especially important to see my grandparents as my Grandpa Crisp is 97 and my Grandma Crisp is 93. Every opportunity to see them is precious. I was happy to see that although they aren’t physically the same as they once were, their spirits were. Right down to the 5:00 Manhattan cocktail that my grandfather has every day, and the jello salad that my grandmother always serves as a side dish at dinner.
My week ended with a short work-week. Two days. Anybody can work a two day week. But boy, oh boy, Life decided to pack a series of unfortunate events in those two days. And not just Work Life. Home Life teamed up with Work Life on Thursday and Friday. A clogged shower drain. SoonToBe’s lawyer sent me his counterclaims in our divorce proceedings. (“SoonToBe” is what I have decided to call my “soon-to-be-ex-husband”. See my last post, “Nevertheless, She Persisted“, for more clarification.) A call from my son’s principal that he was making an inappropriate gesture at kids in the hallway. Sinuses throwing a party and inviting a migraine to raise the roof in my head. It was so stressful that at times I stopped to look if there were hidden cameras somewhere and Ashton Kutcher was going to jump out and tell me I was being Punk’d.
Alas, no hidden cameras. No Ashton Kutcher. Just Life. And to get through it, I began to do the thing I do best when Life gets tough. I start to flex my Worry Muscle. I don’t know about you, but whenever I engage the Worry Muscle it gets strong quickly. 1 or 2 reps and it overpowers my underdeveloped Trust Muscle. Let me tell you, if Arnold Schwarzenegger saw my Worry Muscle, he would ask me what my training schedule is. I could have an Infomercial with Before and After pictures–“No pills! No diet! No long hours in the gym! You can get results like this in 2 short days! Act now and we’ll double the offer, just pay separate shipping and handling.”
I know I am not alone in the persistent practice of training the Worry Muscle. “I’m just worried about,” is a common phrase used in conversations. And I get it. When things are out of our control, how can we not focus on the problems and the what-could-happens? How can we not envision the worst-case-scenarios and lament about how that could actually come to pass? I think we engage in that practice so that we can partly be prepared for it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with being prepared for the worst.
Unless that’s all we focus on.
If the only things we can see are the mountains of problems and the what-ifs, we strangle the Trust Muscle. It weakens. It emaciates. It is put on life support and the outlook is bleak.
Bleak, but not fatal. Fortunately, there is a path of recovery for the Trust Muscle. Mine is already stronger one day later. And, just like the Worry Muscle, once you begin to train it, it quickly responds.
For me, the moment it was taken off life support happened in church. I was kneeling in prayer before Mass. I was thinking about the end of my week and how hard it was and these words spontaneously came forth, “Please, God, take the worry from my heart. Please, God, take the worry from my heart.” As soon as I expressed them, I felt instantly better. A wave of calm and trust came over me.
It doesn’t end there.
The Gospel reading featured a portion of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. I got goosebumps when these words were read: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear…Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” My Trust Muscle perked up a little more.
It doesn’t end there.
As the priest delivered his homily (the Catholic word for a sermon), he spoke about how, of course, we need food and clothing and other things in our lives. But those things cannot be the objects of our focus. When those things take over, we lose sight of what truly is important. Although Father Dominic spoke about focusing on money and addictions, I silently put worry in that category.
I also believe The Judge uses the Worry Muscle to weaken us. To weaken our Trust Muscle so that hoping and having faith seem pointless. To isolate us from the Witnesses who will be there to coach our Trust Muscle into believing in possiblities rather than lamenting in problems.
So, to strengthen my Trust Muscle, I am going to return to how I began last week. I am going to return to Grandma Crisp but with a memory this time. She has a favorite quote from the Bible, which I have also adopted as a favorite and a support when I am worried. I even had it printed on a pillow as a Christmas gift. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
It’s not the “quick-fix” training plan that the Worry Muscle boasts. In fact, it’s downright difficult. However, the results are worth it. My prayer for you is that you find what you need to strengthen your Trust Muscle too.