Monday, March 23, 2020

Don't Hurry Worry

"Do not be anxious about anything;
but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Philippians 4: 6
       If worry were chocolate, I'd weigh—it's none of your business. Let's just say I'm a professional worrier, and have been since my feet dangled from a chair.
God will take care of everything.
know that. But giving up worry is as easy as giving up coffee . . . cheesecake with cherries . . . biscuits drowning in sausage gravy. 
It's not that I don't trust God. But I figure He has to be swamped, what with problems in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East . . . Certainly He doesn't need to be bothered by a bevy of everyday concerns rising up from Overland Park, Kansas. Worries about Emily's history, Carson's math, and Laurel's spelling tests; my husband's fatigue from dealing with 700 phone calls at work before noon; or my penchant for impatience because I'm not a best-selling author—yet.
So what if I handle a few things on my own? Is that so bad?
But I'm an independent woman! I can install a light fixture without shocking myself, I can mow the lawn with only one five-minute nap behind the azalea bush, and I can whip up homemade treats for Girl Scouts with ten minute's notice (take the Chips Ahoy cookies out of the package and place them in a Tupperware container). Surely God likes independent people.
I discovered this truth when the ravioli boiled over.
It was the end of a soap-opera day. Not the typical soap opera where my long-lost sister appears on my doorstep, a nympho-schizo who ran away with my fourth husband once removed while my evil neighbor plots to torch my house because my clothes are whiter than hers (surely, you jest). That, I could have handled.
It was a day when the cat piddled in the philodendron. We were out of milk and bread and eggs, forcing us to eat Doritos and orange juice for breakfast. Somehow, the kids managed to find a matching pair of shoes, and most of their homework. One off to school. Two. Three.
I had just scooped up Pepper with all intentions of having a serious discussion detailing the differences between potting soil and kitty litter when Laurel called from school. She'd forgotten her library book—which was already two days overdue. She couldn't check out Little House on the Prairie until she returned Little House in the Big Woods. And her book report was due in three days. Grabbing the book and my car keys, I wondered if any modern family was as organized as Pa and Ma Ingalls. The world could be so... trying.
After returning the book, I stopped at the school door. The sky had turned from blue to blanched—accompanied by a torrent of wet stuff. Never fear, my umbrella was . . . in the car. I made a run for it, stifling the urge to rotate slowly in the rain, saving my clothes a trip through the washer at some later date.
While I was in a library sort of mood, I headed for the main branch. I needed to research the effects of oleander for the mystery I was writing. As the weather progressed from raining cats and dogs to dumping an entire pet store on my car, the windshield wipers chose to deviate from their normal 4/4 rhythm. They tried a quick waltz . . . before giving up out of rhythmic frustration.
Brake lights! Oh, no! Whew . . . a near miss. I collected my scattered wits and pulled into a gas station to replace the wiper blades. Unfortunately, they cost more than the seventy-three cents I dug out of the glove compartment. My checkbook was at home. Charge it.
The library, groceries, lunch, laundry, writing.
Finally, a hot bath. I was just sinking into the steaming water, having discovered a way to get my knees and torso warm at the same time, when the phone rang.
It was a neighbor near my son's school. Carson fell off his bike. His arm was broken.
I wrung out my hair, pulled on some clothes, and raced out the door. I found Carson sitting on the curb, his right arm held gently with his left hand. A few brave tears escaped. His, and mine.
Off to the hospital where he got x-rayed, delayed and okayed—and became the proud owner of a fluorescent green cast.
I zoomed home, planted Carson on the couch armed with the remote control. I considered making him chicken soup (feed a cold, starve . . . an arm?) I wondered how he would do homework with his right hand encased in its glow-in-the-dark prison.
I headed for the kitchen to start dinner. I tossed a rock of frozen hamburger into the microwave and punched enough buttons to launch the space shuttle. Nothing happened.
"No! You can't do this to me!" I yelled, punching the sequence again in case I wasn't speaking coherent micro-ese during my first attempt. Zippo, no zappo.
Oldest daughter Emily bopped through the kitchen on her way to work at the local ice cream store. "See ya at eight," she said.
"Don't you want some dinner?"
"I'll eat something at work."
Chalk up one serving from the dairy, fat, and sugar food groups.
The clock said Mark would be home in fifteen minutes. I hoped he wouldn't mind ravioli with meat sauce a' la iceberg. I leaned against the counter and closed my eyes.
"Whatcha doing, Mom?" asked Laurel.
"I'm trying to remember how I cooked hamburger before the invention of the microwave."
"How 'bout the stove?" she suggested.
Cocky kid.
I pulled myself out of my catatonia and followed her suggestion, browning the frozen hamburger in one pan while water boiled for the ravioli in another.
The doorbell rang. Another lawn service wanted to take care of us. Was that a hint?
That's when it happened. That's when the ravioli boiled over.
And that's when I realized this particular independent woman couldn't do it alone.
I removed the pan from the burner and shut off every appliance in the kitchen hoping to prevent further mutiny. I escaped. To the bathroom. I locked myself in. Voluntary exile.
"Mom?" Laurel said, tapping on the door. "Are you all right?"
I took a deep breath and held back a primal scream.
"I will be," I said.
She left me alone. But I wasn't alone.
It's not a noble position, sitting on the toilet seat next to a sink that needs scrubbing, a mirror that needs shining, and a used Kleenex next to, but not in, the waste basket nearby. But God didn't mind since He finally had me where He wanted me—ready to listen.
"God, it's too much!"
I didn't hear a celestial voice echoing off the faucet. I didn't experience a flash of light as God granted me His revelation. God's voice came from within and was as comforting as a hug.
"It's about time you came to Me," He said.
That's when I gave my worries to God. I relinquished the pesky cat and the freshly fertilized philodendron. I gave Him Laurel's forgetfulness, Carson's arm, and Emily's junk food dinner. I asked Him to take care of the weedy lawn and the pasta-encrusted stove. And I asked if He had any good ideas for dinner—now late and getting later.
And He answered. Not with words but with feelings. Serenity. Peace. Everything would be all right.
I transferred the Kleenex from the floor to the waste basket, re-entered the world, and pulled out a phone book. I ordered pizza—with extra cheese.
God approves of pepperoni.

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