by Eric Vorhies
I have a mother that worries. But I guess everyone has a mother that worries. The difference is that my mother’s worry has in many ways robbed her more often than it has protected her. It has taken moments that should have been enjoyable and given her stress. Since observing this while growing up, I knew that there had to be a better way. I just didn’t know it was going to come from the Dalai Lama in the Brad Pitt movie “Seven Years in Tibet.”
“If you have a problem and can fix it, then why worry about it. If you have a problem and can’t fix it, then why worry about it.”
My mind was blown. That articulated why there was no reason to worry…and that might worry some of you right now.
This week’s fruit is peace. I wrestled with how I divided peace and joy because they seem to be so similar and overlap greatly. I landed on the difference being timing. Joy is the ability to be happy despite our present circumstances. Peace is the absence of conflict and, which in many ways, is the opposite of worry – the feeling of uncertainty about how a situation will eventually play out.
Here’s an example from my life to better illustrate – I live in Florida. To me, it’s like living in an over-developed swamp. It always hot and muggy, and everything here, from gators to mosquitoes, is trying to kill you. Now, have I enjoyed Florida? Most definitely. I have met so many great people and have had the best jobs ever here. But I have not always had peace about living here. Though the plan has always been to be here for a period and then move, I worried that it might not happen, or not happen soon enough. Despite finding much joy here, I had this internal conflict for a long time. Though both joy and peace are closely related to our given situation, I think joy is focused more on the present and peace is concerned with the future.
Let’s be clear about something. The peace that God offers is not an outward one. It’s not a peace that will protect you and your family from harm. It’s not even a peace that guarantees that you have the right to bear arms, read your Bible, go to college, and not be picked on. The peace that God offers is an internal one. One that says, “Eric, even though you live in a swamp, it’s ok, and it will be ok if you never really leave.” It’s a peace that overcomes conflict within a person. It overcomes fear and inadequacy.
Now, let me lean in a little bit…
Are you lacking peace?
Not sure? Well, are you easily offended? Do you rant on social media? Are you the Angry Aaron or the Nervous Nelly in your group? Do you think of all the ways that something can go wrong before you consider that it doesn’t really matter? What worry is robbing you of your time and energy?
Is it how you will be paying for Christmas? Maybe it is something much deeper, like a sense of failure or shame. Fear and regret?
Philippians 4:6-9 – Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — If there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Look, external conflict is unavoidable, and sometimes you will need to take action against it. But internal conflict, the unseen battle that people wage war with, that is unnecessary. If we can fix it, then don’t worry. If we can’t, don’t worry. You don’t have to stew on how things are wrong in the world….You can think about how things are right in the world. Yes, the glass is half empty of water. But it is half full of water and half full of air, and man I know some people who could use that air and take a breather. Am I right?
I can say all of this because my worries will be taken care of…and taken care of by God. I don’t have the time and energy to put toward worrying. I have an amazing wife, three young boys, and, praise God, I’m busy packing to move out of Florida. I will not give fear and worry power, because, my God, who willingly bears that burden for me, IS WAYYYY more powerful. And that right there….that gives me PEACE.
Don’t be like my mom in this way. Don’t let worry rob you of the peace that God wants you to have.
PS – My mom has other characteristics that everyone should have, but that’s a different blog