Lately worry has been worrying me. Relentlessly. Like a pit bull with a t-bone.
There's Rosie, who has worried me since the day she was born. You have expectations of a child when they're born, whether you want to or not. Especially of the same-sex child. I had visions of Rosie and I cuddled on the couch, doing girl things, an island of estrogen in a sea of testosterone.
Rosie, though, came out screaming and hasn't much let up since. She has severe reflux that burns her esophagus and causes projectile vomiting and severe pain if she's not on daily medication. She got the dreaded RSV at Christmas and when the doctors were checking her for that, they discovered a strange rhythm in her heart and sent us to a cardiologist. Turns out, Rosie has a minor heart condition as well--a partial fusing of one of the valves of her heart. Then, just this week, we went in for her 6-month checkup and found another problem: the muscles of her torso are far weaker than they should be, and we've been referred to a physical therapist at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Weak muscles, or low muscle tone, can mean lots of things--some minor, some major. I know this, because I looked it up on the Internet. If you are a new parent, let me give you some advice: NEVER look up vague diagnoses of childhood illnesses on the Internet. Invariably the vague diagnoses always seems to be a symptom to the big three: cancer, Down's Syndrome, or autism. No matter what your child's symptom, someone will claim it is a symptom of one of these three things. Or all of them. And you will start to worry your head off over the huge "IFs" floating around, horrible possibilities you never even thought to consider until someone put it in your head to worry about it.
Worry, worry, worry.
Jesus says in Matthew 6 (The Message):
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
I read this, I believe it. At least sometimes I believe it. When I'm not worried, when it isn't my kids, or my security at risk. When it's something small and easy to lose, I can be as saintly and worry-free as Jesus himself. But when it's something that matters, something that would hurt to lose, something that affects my comfort, my peace, the things I have decided I need to be happy in this world, I get worried. And it gnaws at me with very sharp teeth--and why do I think this is preferable to trusting God to keep His promises?
There is an old Indian fable that speaks of a group of blind intellectuals coming together to examine an elephant. Each of the men touches one specific part of the elephant and then decides that the sum of what they have touched is, in fact, the whole. I think that is what I become in times like these, a blind intellectual--or maybe I am like Chicken Little, screaming that the sky is falling when an acorn lands on my head.
What is required is a change in perspective--a step back, an awareness that what I perceive may not be the whole story. The bigger question is, what is God-reality, God-initiative, God-perspective? Is my attention focused on what God is doing right now, or on the "IFs" that right now are merely "ifs", and not truths? Do I really dare to believe in a God that keeps promises, a God that loves me, a God that is vast enough to create galaxies yet professes an awareness of when a tiny bird falls from its nest?
Here is where real belief, real Christianity is formed and tested. The question is, do I believe what I say I believe?
What is God doing right now? Today, I will try and place my attention there, within that question. And, as Rilke suggested, I will try to love that question, to savor it and head down the path it leads me. Anything has to be better than lying here, flayed to the marrow by worry.