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Worry is a measure of ‘response-ability’

Dear Lucy: I have so many things that I worry about and so many things that I am afraid will happen. My friends try to tell me to stop. My doctor says stop. My pastor says stop.


Dear Lucy: I have so many things that I worry about and so many things that I am afraid will happen. My friends try to tell me to stop. My doctor says stop. My pastor says stop. I have constant heartburn and I can’t sleep. I know that this is silly but I just feel like if I don’t think about these things, then who will? I believe that a sign of being a responsible person is the ability to show concern and to think about the things that others are not willing to face. I want to know what you have to say.

– Mack C.

Dear Mack: At the risk of sounding disrespectful, I will say what Dr. Phil of television fame might say...”and how is that working for you?”  Has this “thinking” or worry changed anything, helped you or anyone else or brought you peace?  Since you didn’t mention any specific worry I can’t talk about specifics.  

Worry is a funny thing. Somewhere along the way we learn that to worry is noble and proves that we care. Then again, some might learn to go to another extreme with a belief that says, “why worry, you can’t change anything anyway?”

I would like to introduce another possibility. We read in the Bible “…and which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to your stature.”  And in another place it says, “take no thought for what you shall wear, eat or drink for your Father in heaven knows what you have need of.” (This one I paraphrased and they are all contained in chapter 6 of Matthew.)

I don’t think either of these verses gives us license to stop thinking, or working or caring. But we do need a working definition of the word worry or anxious. Generally, when we worry, we are spending time thinking about what we don’t want to happen. When we do that, we are also placing all of the power for it happening outside of our own power and even outside of God’s power. Just think about this! If it was pleasant, then it wouldn’t be worry, huh?

The opposite of worry is responsibility. I prefer to spell it response-ability; the ability or capacity to respond. To respond consciously, honestly, considerately, allowing for the infinite possibilities of Grace.  Response-ability means that we are fully engaged and awake to our own greatness. We give ourselves credit for being able to reason, to pay attention and to act with self-respect.

The opposite of response-ability is reacting. When we react, we harbor a belief in helplessness. We wait for environmental circumstances to push us into movement, decisions or re-actions. If you spend all of your time thinking about what you don’t want to happen, when could you possibly have time to bring about all of the wonderful things that you desire? There is simply no power in worry. Unless you count the power to give you heartburn, ulcers, heart attacks, insomnia, and the list goes on.

Here is one of my favorite verses, Psalms 127:2:

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

God has given us the precious gift of sleep as a respite from anxiety. We can choose it or not. Before falling asleep tonight, try taking just one of those things you worry about. Using your wonderful gift of imaging, create a marvelous movie of how you would really like for this situation to be. Make yourself the star in your movie. Turn this vision over to the Lord in prayer and go to sleep. During the day, when you catch yourself in worry, practice immediately creating a picture of what you really want. You cannot stop worrying by telling yourself not to worry!  Instead, begin to make new streets for your thoughts to walk upon.  

Be Not Anxious,


(Check out Lucy Shaw’s website at http://www.heartworks4u.com. You may send your questions to her by U.S. mail to: Heartworks4U, LLC; 4646 Poplar Ave. Ste 201, Memphis, TN 38117 or by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy’s new book, “BE NOT ANXIOUS.” Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)


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