Written by Dene Nidiffer
I hope that you will not consider me lazy by simply sharing this writing from my husband…Yes, this is a blog for women and typically written by women, but I identified with this particular devotion and as it turns out, so did a lot of other women and men! I felt it needed to be shared and asked his permission to share it with you. I have adapted it ever so slightly to make it more relevant to women with his blessing… that doesn’t change the authenticity of the message.
Imagine this…play this song in your mind…Don’t Worry, Be Happy.
- This song won a prize when it came out (September 1988)
- It was also on a soundtrack from the movie Cocktail
Wouldn’t it be nice if that’s all it took? A catchy tune, easy lyrics, Robin Williams dancing in your video? Here’s reality (at least for me) it takes a whole lot more!
I am what you might call a fretter. I stew, I play mental gymnastics, I can’t leave work at work, I get worked up, I hold things in, I get pent up, I am anxious.
I worry, a lot.
I worry about things I can control, but mostly I worry about things I cannot. I have pressures that are real, but often out of my hands. However, I am the top-dog, chief-cook-and-bottle-washer, the buck-stops-here, all that.
But seriously, if things don’t go a certain way, the long-term future of the business [insert job, marriage, life] is bleak. So here is a scary and only slightly facetious glimpse of my mental cycle when my mind races regarding my business concerns:
- We don’t get a specific grant/loan that we need
- We have a solution, but we can’t get help
- The bank is “thinking” about the solution
- If nothing works…
- We cannot pay employees or we are deeper in debt
- My partner “un-partners” me
- Or worse, the business closes
- All our clients hate me
- All employees lose their job, they (and their families hate me)
- I would disappoint my husband and daughter
- Of course I will never find another job
- We will have to move out of our neighborhood
- We’ll be forced to short-sell our house
- Our credit rating will be ruined
- My husband leaves me
- My daughter never wants to see me again
- I try to tell the story to [insert Pastor name], using a few choice words regarding the bank, Pastor excommunicates me from church in front of the congregation (NOTE: I have never actually seen an excommunication ceremony at our church, but I assume it looks something like the Hunger Games and that they happen at the service times I don’t attend)
- I live in a van down by the river [Saturday Night Live version] – or – I am homeless, penniless, unmarried and alone
While this may sound silly now, in the often sleepless hours of 11pm-3am it seems amazingly plausible.
Notice something missing….
God? Jesus? Prayer? None of it, nada, which starts another interesting cycle:
- Why don’t you just pray? You know you should!
- God won’t help me, why should He, I don’t deserve His Grace; besides, I got me into this, why will He get me out?
- Man, I am a horrible Christian, aren’t I?
- I try to tell the story to [Pastor], he excommunicates me!!!
- I live in a van down by the river…you get the rest of the story!
Even when dear friends or family ask me “How’s it going?”
I think: I cannot let them see me; I cannot let them know I am failing right now, that I am not praying enough. If the business fails, what they would think of me? Would that disappoint them?
Then I would start another list, we all know where those end.
How do you break this crazy cycle? Well you can do my age-old, tried and true method of hiding it inside and laugh outside so nobody really knows.
This kind of anxiety has come and gone over my entire life, but this has been building for a while and seems greater than those times in the past. Maybe being anxious about what part I got in the middle school play or whether I made the Glee Club has less impact than now when there are so many things at stake.
A few weeks ago, at her (ok God’s) prompting I had coffee with a Christian friend that I admire a lot. After a few moments of pleasantries in a very crowded local coffee establishment, it was clear to me that she struggles with this, too! Granted, I am sure she is not as neurotic about it as I am, but there was comfort just knowing there were others. She also encouraged me to pray a simple, but very powerful prayer.
Period. Stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
I had forgotten that I used to pray this all the time, but with a minor revision (and usually on an airplane right before takeoff).
“God, I am truly indifferent to what you hold in store for me, I will obey your will, however, if you wouldn’t mind letting the plane take-off and land safely, that would be okay, too!”
Recently, even a slightly different version:
“God, I am truly indifferent to what you hold in store for me, I will obey your will, but if the business closes, don’t let all those people hate me and let me find another job.”
I really don’t think God works that way. Many scriptures tell us that God does not want us to live in fear, dread or worry (John 14:27, 1 Peter 5:6-7, Isaiah 26:3-4, Philippians 4:6-7 and the granddaddy of them all Matthew 6:24-34).
It has to start with us, with our time with God, with our knowledge of scripture and if we don’t know – find out however we can. I don’t have a job or personality that I can leave at work when I head home or on weekends. I have to find prayer time (I mean how long does it take to say “God, I am truly indifferent to what you hold in store for me, I will obey your will.”) – Now before you call [Pastor] and start the excommunication ceremony process, I am not saying that is all you should pray, but for me it was a place to start every time I prayed.
I believe that God has called me to my work, and while it is a secular business, I look for the spiritual, I know it is a mission field. If His will is for that to change, then I will listen. We spent an incredible week in Mexico this past summer on our first mission trip. When we told folks we went, many people asked, “Weren’t you worried?” I look back on that week and honestly answer, no. Maybe there is a business to run in Mexico…Bottom Line:
Do I still get anxious? Yes.
Do I still worry about stuff I cannot control? Yes.
Will I be more transparent to the people that care? Yes.
Am I praying more to let God help me find His peace and grace? Yes.
Do I still worry about [Pastor] and excommunication ceremonies? Not nearly as often.
Don’t Worry, Just Pray.
You can read more about Dene here.