Word of the Week

Letting Go

How much time do you spending worrying on any given day? Though such would not be a statistic that any of us would boast about, I know it is something we all do. And all the time.

We worry about what we will eat for dinner when we come home. We worry if our children will finally eat tonight what we put in front of them.

We worry about what traffic will be like on the way to work. We worry about the fastest routes to take.

We worry that we aren't where we'd like to be in our lives by whatever age we find ourselves in. We worry what is next and how we get there.

We worry about a friend's reaction to this and that and how it might cost us a beloved friendship.  We worry about being lonely.

We worry our parents are getting older with declining health. We worry about how we will have the means to take care of them when the worst news comes.

We worry that we won't make it to the movie on time and the show will be sold out.  We worry then, what will we do for fun on a Friday night without our preferred means of entertainment.

We worry that our best laid plans will all go awry without a plan B automatically in place. We how we will cope when all feels lost around us.

We worry. Worry creeps into our every moment faster than we might ever recognize-- both in the minor details of our lives and the big stuff too.

But, when we do what resources of our faith tradition and practices are we deigning help from? How might we be robbing our constant worried filled lives with some of the best resources for calmer waters? 

In the Christian tradition, Jesus had a lot to say about worrying. The most famous of sayings on this topic came from his Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 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 clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Such as always been one of my favorite and least favorite scriptures. It a comfort for Jesus to have acknowledged and cared about that which most of us do all the time, but annoying too. It is always easier to worry than it is to surrender, isn't it? I recently heard a member of my congregation say as we were having a discussion on this topic, "What would I do with myself and my time if I didn't worry?" Good question. It seems that the whole "non-anxious" presence is not a state of being that comes naturally or enjoyably to us. We might just have to re-think our dispositions in the world if space in our brain was opened up from letting go of worries.

A hymn-- a great hymn of the Christian tradition that often comes with baggage for many is "I Surrender All." Such is certainly the case for me. Only until recently did I allow it on the "songs we are allowed to sing in church" list during worship planning. "I Surrender All" draws to mind images of emotional manipulation, long "alter calls" at revivals, and on the type of Christian worship that makes me want to pull my hair out in disgust. But, even with such a history, it's a hymn whose words are a powerful testimony of what God asks us to do in our all-consuming problems. And this is: let go of them.

All to Jesus I surrender;
all to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
in his presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
all to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

2. All to Jesus I surrender;
humbly at his feet I bow,
worldly pleasures all forsaken;
take me, Jesus, take me now.

3. All to Jesus I surrender;
make me, Savior, wholly thine;
fill me with thy love and power;
truly know that thou art mine.

(See aren't the lyrics not as bad as you might have remembered?) What powerful words!

Surrendering everything is one giant leap from the worry world in which most of us live all the time. But what if we began with just one worry? What if we said for a day, "I will not worry about ____ today. I will leave it in God's hands. I will trust God to be present to me and provide for all of my needs."

Because in the end, just as Corrie Ten Boom said in her book, Clippings from my Notebook: "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength" we've all got a lot of holy encounters waiting for us in life. And we truly don't want worry keeping us from them. Do we? So, for me, for today, I am choosing to let go and mean the words when I say them, "I Surrender All." What about you?