I’m really, really great at worrying. It’s actually one of the things that I do the best. On any given day, my worries range from the small (I’m worried I’m not going to make this train in time for my appointment) to the existential (I’m worried I’m not on the right life path). If the greatest opportunity in the world were to come my way tomorrow, you bet I’d worry it about first. It’s exhausting.
One of the things that always strikes me about my anxiety is that when it’s at its worst, God always seems to send me a perfectly-timed reminder to chill out. I remember sitting in the pew at mass one weekend two years ago while I was unemployed, exhausted from a fruitless job hunt, broke, frustrated with New York City, and concerned over the health of a few family members. My mind was everywhere but in the present moment, until the Gospel began. “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?” And then later, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself.” Chill out, Jen, and trust a little.
As Holy Week begins, I’m recognizing just how much of my time this Lent has been spent worrying. Job transitions, a new relationship, big events in friends’ lives… all objectively good things, yet all things that send my nervous mind into a tizzy. So, yesterday’s Lenten challenges hit my hard. “Fast from worrying today,” and “pray for those who are worried or stressed.” A well-timed reminder that my worry might be better served channeled into faith and gratitude. As the time for the greatest renewal approaches, I hope that this fast is one I can keep going all year long.