(© all rights reserved) Chaplain Joe Molina CDR, UMSC / Chaplain to the Corps of Cadets
“Here’s a little song I wrote
Might want to sing it note for note,
Don’t worry…. Be happy!”
It was a catchy little ditty made popular by Bobby McFerrin in the early 1990’s. A music video was produced featuring the singer casually lounging on his hammock in the tranquil surroundings of his Caribbean island paradise. Well, the song had a definite appeal but it wasn’t always real because worrying, sooner or later, is a very tangible part of our existence. In fact, I find it annoying when people approach me and say those words, “don’t worry.” Doesn’t it bother you? What do they mean by “don’t worry”? After all no one is walking in my shoes. I’m the one paying the bills at the end of the month and I’m responsible for feeding my family.
By the way, can you identify with any of the following olympic record holders on worry? There is the chronic worrier who joined the local chapter of the Don’t Worry Club only to express helplessly: “Now I hold my breath. I’m so afraid I’ll worry that I’m almost worried to death!” How about the patient who goes to his therapist and the counselor says: “Most things you worry about don’t happen.” “I know that,” said the patient,”but then I find myself worrying about why they don’t happen!!” Finally there’s the worried young man whose fortuneteller says to him, “you’ll be poor and unhappy until you are thirty.” “And then what?” he asked. “Then you’ll get used to it,” she said. We may resemble some of these scenarios. They may echo some of our attitudes. We may even laugh at ourselves for unnecessary worrying. But, on closer analysis worrying will debilitate us. Worry will drain us of our energy. To be sure, chronic worrying can induce a serious threat to our health. What does worry do after all? Will worrying eliminate the problems? Will needless worrying place in my hands the key to the solutions? My experience is that worrying doesn’t solve problems – rather it tends to compound the problems.
It is interesting to note that in classical Greek the word “worry” meant, “to divide the mind.” Worrying will do that. It will divide and distort our thinking and “a divided mind is unstable in all ways” (Holy Bible, Epistle of James 1:8) Worrying will divide our energies so that we are drawn away from possible solutions.
Ultimately, worrying becomes irrelevant because it does not change things. It really doesn’t help in effectively coping with problems. Besides burning-up valuable energy it will also not add to our life span and may even limit the days of our life through stress related illnesses.
Freedom from worry does not demand that we negate all materialism and crawl into a cave and live like a hermit. Rather, freedom from worrying calls us to positive action as a lifestyle. We are challenged to free ourselves today from the unnecessary anxiety that comes from not knowing the problems of tomorrow. These unknown problems of the future are for the most part totally out of our control.
Freedom from worry calls us to responsible planning using the resources we have available today. To be sure, reasonable goal setting and planning will eliminate most worrying. By implementing sound planning we will learn the art of living in a day-tight compartment, enjoying the blessings of the present moment with a hopeful and purposeful look towards tomorrow.
A colleague and good friend put it this way in one of his sermons:
“When I work, I work hard.
When I sit, I sit easy.
And when I worry…I go to sleep!”
Or, how about the following notable quotable: “Don’t worry. God has a lot of money!” (Mother Teresa of Calcutta).