I am a worrier. I always seem to be able to find something to worry about, even when I’m on holiday! And I want to stress that by this I don’t mean medical anxiety or depression, but rather just the ‘everyday’ worries about big and small things, constantly going round my head. To name a few that get me most: the future, exams, a mounting workload, any kind of performance scenario such as public speaking or a concert, pretty much anything where I’m vaguely going out of my comfort zone or trying something new!
You may have heard the quote ‘Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere’. This is so true! Granted, being concerned about something isn’t always a negative thing, but most of the time worry is utterly pointless. Why then is it such a common feature of life? Having spent a bit of time trying to work out what it is that makes me such a worrier, I think it comes down to a few things:
1. Fear of failure - feeling like I constantly have to succeed.
2. Lack of perspective - being unable to see what really matters and what is less important. Do you ever look back on GCSE exams and wonder what the fuss was all about? Whereas the university exams coming up, they’re the ones which really count, they’re the make or break ones on which everything hangs. Will I think the same 10 years from now?
3. Other people’s opinions of me - this is a big one. Life can sometimes feel like a performance, wanting other people to think well of me, to be seen as strong, capable, clever, funny, attractive - you name it! So any situation in which there’s a risk that I’ll be under-average, that I won’t gain the approval of a given audience - be it a supervisor, team-mates, or close friends - fills me with dread.
Being a Christian doesn’t ‘magic’ worries away. The Bible actually says that we can’t earn God’s approval or love by performing - the standard is perfect and we all fall short. To paraphrase a bible quote: God demonstrates his love for us in this: even though we turned our backs on him, Jesus gave up his life for us. (Romans 5:8)
God’s approval isn’t based on how lovable I am, but on how loving He is. And because that doesn’t change, and I can’t screw it up, a big pressure is lifted from my shoulders. Sometimes I might slip back into caring what others think too much, and worrying again, but in that situation I’ll remember that God has definitively expressed his opinion of me by giving up his life for me. Whether I’m approved of or not by the people around me just doesn’t compare to that.
Jesus lived the perfect life and took my place in the dock - receiving my guilty sentence, letting me walk free with his perfect record. Now God sees and loves me in the same way that he loves his own son! And it doesn’t stop there - Jesus died, but he was raised to life again, beating death! The ultimate fear or worry of humanity - death - is no concern for those who trust Jesus to bring them through death to life beyond.