I gave up worrying for Lent as my personal form of sacred resistance. This is much more difficult for me than choosing to forego cheese or wine or Trader Joe’s Sriracha Potato Chips. Worrying feels like an addiction, a reflex, and a habit that I carry to the detriment of my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
As I considered my potential Lenten practice, I realized that I was not honoring God within myself by weighing down my body, mind and spirit with worry. So instead of focusing on an external pleasure of which to deprive myself, I selected an internal pain of which to rid myself.
Jesus worried. His time in the Garden at Gethsemane clearly shows us that. This is only fitting, considering his human nature. He was anticipating betrayal, torture, and death. I can’t imagine anyone accepting this fate blithely, and indeed he asks God multiple times to change up the plan. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42 NRSV)
It’s been challenging for me to see God’s will in the world lately so it’s been easy to give in to worry. There’s the shortsighted cruelty of the proposed federal budget, and the long-term malice of dismantling environmental regulations. There’s my child’s educational development, work deadlines, and just how I am going to find one more hour in the day to craft a healthy meal for my family.
Plenty of reasons to worry – check. Now how do I resist the temptation sacredly? The first step is acknowledging the worry instead of rolling along with it unthinkingly. Dan Siegel’s admonition to “name it to tame it” really applies here. Once I honor my feeling and recognize what I’m dealing with, the second step is to breathe deeply for a few moments, calming the flood. Third, I decide if there is anything I can do to mitigate the area of worry. If so, I proceed with that action. If not, I go to step four.
Step four brings me back to the present, to engage in what is important in my life right now. Is it cuddling up on the couch and reading to my daughter? Is it finding that extra time for walking the labyrinth in singular meditation? Is it calling up a friend who has been on my mind? Is it enjoying a rousing after dinner game of Jenga with the family?
Sometimes the process entails praying or crying, or both, and that’s OK. The most important thing is to remember that God’s got this. Or, to be less colloquial and more biblical: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 NRSV)
So my sacred resistance is not to let worry steal my joy. Nor will I let it diminish my capacity for hope in others or myself. I will strive to follow Jesus’ example of being able to say in the midst of worry, with my whole heart, “yet, not my will but yours be done.”
Today’s Daily Lenten Meditation is by Christine Hartman, a member of the Vestry of All Saints Church. Watch for daily postings from All Saints Church as we take the forty day journey to Easter together.