Day 35: Not to Worry
Day 35: Do not Worry?
Adapted from Philippians 4:6. 13, 19. Help me to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let me make my requests known to You. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And My God, You shall supply all of my needs according to Your riches in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Athletes are advised not to let anything distract them when they are competing. Twelve Step programs caution against letting anything “live rent-free in your brain.” Fear is what happens when “false evidence appears real.” So, “Why do we worry?” “What are we getting out of imagining the worst thing that could happen?”
Neurologist John Arden explains how worry is “a general intolerance to uncertainty combined with poor problem solving and positive beliefs about worry.” We think worrying will help us when we do not know what else to do. Arden told one client to, “expose herself to uncertainty, instead of trying to reassure herself that each worry should not be a concern,” so that she could “help build her brain's capacity to neutralize her tendency to worry.” Arden believes uncertainty helps us to learn.
Let’s look at one example of how Jesus invited people to reexamine circumstances where they thought they already had certainty. In John’s Gospel Jesus was teaching in the temple when people brought an adulterous woman to him. They were certain the law clearly expected them to stone her to death. However, when Jesus said, ““Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” (John 8.7) they all were just as certain that they needed to walk away. In a way, I think all of Jesus’ instructions were teaching people to be uncertain about the traditional ways. Jesus wanted people to know some of what they were doing was NOT what God wanted practiced on earth as in heaven. When Jesus taught: the last became first; the weak became strong; and the meek inherited. The religious elite was not at all comfortable when Jesus challenged the things they always thought were certain.
Arden helps his clients to train their brains to “appreciate uncertainty.” Paul encourages the Philippians to let Jesus strengthen them so that they can be curious enough to allow the inspiration of God to help them understand how to respond to uncertainty. Arden thinks the desire to do things perfectly is a worry builder. Paul understands that we all are less than perfect “problem solvers” and he wants us to “do all things though Christ who strengthens us.” Jesus warns, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6.34) Can we develop the ability to appreciate uncertainty and to bring those issues of which we are uncertain to God? Can we allow ourselves to be curious enough to discover where the Holy Spirit is leading us? Are willing to embrace that image in us that God wants to shine into the world? (All quotes are from Arden’s, Enacting Brain2Brain Client Change Through the Persuasive Power of Neuroscience.)