Worry and Planning.

Teddy isn't worried. Nor is the little boy snoozing on the couch behind him.

Two things I need to do a lot less of: WORRY and PLANNING.

I am a planner. I feel the need to have plans in my mind for every eventuality. Is that a nice way of saying I’m a control freak? In my head, I want to know what I will do if A, B, or C happens. I end up with an endless flow chart in my mind, showing me that I will be prepared to handle every situation that could possibly arise. This mental flow chart becomes impossible to handle when foster care enters into the situation. I’m sure it’s the same feeling of overload when any serious situation arises in life; the mental computer malfunctions because there are just too many possible outcomes to be controlled and dealt with. All this before they have even happened. Talk about frying the brain.

On top of the normal “mommy worries,” I worry about how we will handle Midge’s visitations this summer. I worry about what will happen at her 18 month hearing next month. I worry about whether they will add more visitation hours. I worry about whether the social worker will see the whole picture as I and the other longer term workers have seen it. I don’t dare worry about how we would handle it if Midge reunifies with her parents, because I simply cannot go there in my mind. But there are a lot of other scenarios constantly playing out in my head, and I’m busy dealing with each of them as I think of them.

I have gotten better at this since we started fostering, but I still need a major worry overhaul. I just can’t handle all of these problems and figure out a way to manage them so that my family doesn’t suffer. I am busy coming up with solutions to problems that don’t yet exist. But they might. And then, after an hour of tossing and turning at midnight and handling imaginary conversations with various workers in my head, I stop. What am I doing? Why am I thinking of the best way to respond to this accusation or that change of case plan? It is the middle of the night and everyone else is sleeping! Nobody is changing anything at this exact moment! Everybody else is sleeping comfortably while I’m mentally reorganizing my carpooling schedule for months from now to accomadate problems that might never actually take place. I am completely insane. Please tell me I am not the only one. Maybe there are others out there who spent too many years of life feeling upset because they didn’t say the right thing at the right time, and now, two hours after the conversation, they know just what they should have said. It seems to me that if I plan an answer for every situation, I will be prepared when a conversation important to Midge’s future arises.

Control. It’s a myth. Most of the things I have so carefully “prepared” for, haven’t actually happened. Instead, other stuff that I never even could have thought of comes up and throws me off guard. To think! After all those middle of the night fake conversations, I’m still not ahead.

Worry doesn’t get me anywhere. Today our pastor reminded the christians who’ve been walking the path for a while that it’s easy to think we’ve got it down because maybe we’ve conquered what are considered the most obvious sins. But what is the sin in your life that you just don’t call sin? Mine is worry. I remembered a newsletter Keri Wyatt Kent sent out about this.

She and her kids were on an outing and ended up with serious car trouble. Instead of letting the worry rob her of the joy of the moment, she chose not to worry. I love how she calls trust a spiritual discipline.

“I decided to obey Jesus’ command to not worry. Not with a blind optimism, but with a quiet trust. We were okay, and would continue to be okay. I chose to believe that and live in it. Christian faith seeks to obey Jesus’ command: “Do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25) Jesus calls us to trust him, and to let go of having to control the outcome of every situation. When we do that, we will have joy, even in challenging circumstances. To do so requires a certain emotional detachment, a conscious letting go of needing to control the outcome of every situation. Trust is a choice, the alternative to worry. People may even think we are crazy or irresponsible, when really, we are simply turning over our lives, one moment at a time, to God’s excellent and dependable provision. Trust is a spiritual practice. Unlike other practices like prayer, study, solitude and so forth, the practice of trust is not something we can schedule. We kind of have to wait for situations that would cause us to worry or fear, and in the midst of that situation, choose to believe that we are safe in the arms of God. We have to sail along and wait for a rogue wave or a sudden wind shift, and trust we will not capsize.” -Keri Wyatt Kent Connecting eNewsletter

Ha! God certainly has put us into situations that would cause us to worry or fear! This is the spiritual discipline that I want to work on this month. (year? lifetime?) And planning. Which doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Except when you remember that guy in the parable in the bible who was planning his whole future and God told him that his soul would be required of him tonight! Oops. No need to plan ahead there.

The last time I asked Aunt Krissy to plan to babysit, she put it in her planner and said she’d be here, “Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise!” I love that. I’ll continue preparing for the future as best I can, but I need to let go of any permanent long term plans and recognize that the future needs to be held loosely.

The sin of worry and the spiritual discipline of trust are really two sides of the same coin. So when the worry strikes, I want to work on this. I will pray that the worry will trigger in my mind a new activity to replace the perseverating on unseen (or even seen!) problems that can’t be solved that way. I don’t know what that new activity is yet, but it will probably involve prayer or bible verses to recite. And when I start to plan too far ahead, I will remember to add at the end of all my planning, “Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise!” and remind myself that although we can make our plans, it is the Lord who determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9


4 thoughts on “Worry and Planning.

  1. Oh yeah. I so completely hear you; I could have written this myself! My husband basically confronted me about this right before we went to trial for Grover’s case. It didn’t stop my obsessive worrying, but it helped me to be more conscious of it.

    I’ve also been working on this discipline this year. I want to be like the birds of the air, the lilies of the field… Even if just for a few minutes at a time. I will hope and pray the same for you. Thank you so much for the reminder this morning.

  2. Oh, Linny! You couldn’t have written this at a better time….for me! 🙂 I struggle with planning and control every day, every minute! Maybe its a Hilts thing? 🙂

    I get into controlling ruts where the hamster wheel in my brain won’t stop! I’m in one of those ruts at this very moment. I try my best to remember and rely on my ‘higher power’ (that could be different for you and me). I have to rely on my faith that I cannot control everything that happens in life. I can control my reactions and actions but that’s about it. One friend helped me visualize it a certain way: pink bubbles! Envision your concern or problem in a pink bubble then hold it out in in your hand and blow it away! The universe will take your concern and will do with it what it will….without any control from us! (This is the reason I have pink bubble tattoos!) Control is a mirage! When I truly let go, it feels as if I’ve thrown myself off a cliff! Flailing about….and falling, falling, falling. But I KNOW that I’ll be OK. I’ve been given the tools to ensure that I’ll be OK in the end. My higher power would NEVER put me in a situation that I’m not able to handle. It might be extremely difficult, but I can handle it.

    One last tid-bit I’d like to share with you. I practice this mantra throughout the days when my hamster wheel gets outta control: ‘Where are your feet right now’? This is the only moment that is guaranteed. I would hate to miss out on this moment because I’m trying to plan or control something that may never come to be.

    I absolutely understand where you are coming from, Linny. I hope some of my insights help to relieve the stress and control. You have helped me with your post. Thank you, cousin!

  3. I like the thought you added, Karen, that you would hate to miss out on this moment because you are thinking of something else.

  4. Like Sarah, I could have written this post. Thank you so much for sharing. Just last night I was awake much later than I should have been perfecting a beautiful speech that I may (never) have to give yet another new person who is entering the drama that my children call their lives. There is so much I want to say, might need to say, so much that other people need to know and need to hear. Or is there really? I just have to say that lately I’ve been taking this to heart more. I’ve been waiting on God more. I had a specific incident that I ran through my head a million times, and I actually even wrote a letter to the judge – but never mailed it, and never said anything. And now I know why. God has been working, and I most certainly would have made things worse by speaking up as I was thinking of doing. This has given me more courage to just go to sleep and not worry about tomorrow. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the bible text you quoted (Prov. 16:9), it has to be one of my absolute favorites. This one also came to mind: “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

    So basically I need to see all my plans as dispensable, and just concern myself with doing what I know to be good.

    Anyway, thank you so much for bringing this to my attention in such a beautiful way. I’m going to go to sleep tonight and not worry about tomorrow – it has enough of it’s own troubles, and they can wait.

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