I’ve been really worried lately. You name it, I’ve been worried about it. Health, work, family, even sleep – which, ironically, stops me from sleeping. I’ve been worried about it all. And I’ve made an important discovery: worry gets me absolutely nowhere.
It’s tricky, isn’t it? I know that God is in control. I know I can trust Him with my circumstances. I know God is all-powerful and all-knowing. And yet, I find myself worrying about my daily troubles.
When I was single, I worried incessantly about money. I think it had something to do with the fact that I was living from pay to pay. I remember regularly looking up my bank balance on the last day of the pay cycle, trying to work out whether I had enough cash to buy lunch that day.
In those days, money was an anxious preoccupation. I didn’t want to live that way though. I really really wanted to trust God instead. I truly wanted to be dependent on Him for all my needs. I wanted the faith walk, the real deal, not some fake I-believe-God-could-help-me-but-He-probably-won’t kind of faith.
But it did not come easily. It was hard to believe God would provide when I crashed my car the day before payday. It was hard to trust in God’s provision when I was eating rice for dinner – again. It was hard to find faith in God when I couldn’t afford medical treatment and therefore lived with daily, ever-increasing pain.
I became so affected at the time by poverty-stricken singledom that I decided to write a poem about it. Writing has always been cathartic for me. Here is a parody version of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” that I wrote:
The Bank Balance is my Shepherd
The bank balance is my shepherd,
I shall not save.
It makes me into a cheapskate;
It leads me beside troubled waters;
It re-ignites my anxiety.
Even though I walk in the promise
Of the provision of the Lord,
I will fear bills.
My mortgage and my car loan,
They haunt me.
I prepare a scant table
In the absence of pantry items,
To make meals last longer.
I anoint my head with worries;
My debt runs over.
Surely taxation and vexation will follow me,
All the days of my life,
And I will dwell in miserly misery forever.
(c) 2009 Steph Penny.
This poem is a picture of misery not just because I was single and poor back then but because I became flooded with anxiety. Being in a difficult financial position was trial enough, but worry seemed to make the suffering worse.
Today I took action with my recent worries: I started a worry bank. I created a word document and put all my worries in there. I saved the document so I can go back and read them anytime, but effectively it transported the worries out of my own head into a corner of cyberspace. It has lightened my mental load.
I think of it like a term deposit: once the worries go in, I can’t touch them. They are safely tucked away, I haven’t lost them, but I also can’t access them. It doesn’t replace my need for God’s peace; rather, it helps me on the journey toward it.
A “worry bank” is just one idea. What do you do with your worries?