If you are reading this you know who you are. You are the person who constantly worries about others. Most of the time it’s worry about a loved one, like a son or daughter. The problem is when worry paralyzes you or harms your relationships. Let’s find out why you worry so much about others, and how faith in God can help.
Roots of worry
It helps to know why you worry so much. Part of it is biological as some of us are programmed to be worriers. This might have entered into your personality because your mother was very worried during her pregnancy with you. Perhaps even your grandmother was worried while pregnant with your mother. In this way, excessive worry is a sort of inheritance.
If you lived in an overprotective environment growing up, this could have caused you to be a worrier. The other extreme – living in an environment of neglect – can also leave emotional wounds that cause worry. The unexpected loss of a loved one – especially during your childhood – can be a cause of lifetime worry patterns too.
Who are you really worried about?
In many cases, worry is a self-defense response. You’ve been hurt or suffered loss, so it’s understandable that the threat of future loss scares you. Here it’s helpful to understand the “balance of worry” because over time this can become distorted. By “balance” we mean, who’s really benefiting from your worry? For example:
- Are you really worried about others, or are you more worried about getting hurt?
- Are you more worried that you will look bad (“bad” parent, imperfect family, etc.) and lose what you think is perfect?
- Are you worried because you fear that you’re losing control?
When you ask these questions, think to yourself, “Am I more worried about myself, or am I genuinely worried about the other person?” In pretty much every case, there’s a mix of emotions, but problems arise when the balance is tilted heavily in our favor.
Isolation and overreaction
The evil one looks to paralyze or divide us through fear. When our worry becomes self-serving, we look inward and take a defensive posture. Ironically we can end up hurting the person we are worried about, and this separates us from them. Satan finds great pleasure in generating isolation, division and confusion. But, as always, Christ shows us the way to victory and freedom.
Jesus worried too
In the Book of Luke (19:41-44), Jesus wept for Jerusalem. He wept for them not only for what was happening, but for what was going to happen. Perhaps worry isn’t the exact emotion Jesus felt; he felt concerned instead. He felt sorrow. His focus was upon the other, not himself.
When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, before his crucifixion, he also worried. But even greater than his anguish was his concern for the will of his Father. This is the heavenly balance we should seek. Jesus didn’t look to protect himself, but looked instead to obey and give of himself.
Imitate Jesus and be free
It seems impossible to attempt to imitate Jesus Christ – maybe even almost blasphemous. But this is exactly what his Spirit allows us to do. God’s great love and sacrifice give us the strength to break the chains of our past. The Spirit allows us to re-balance our emotions in a healthy, Christ-like way. We don’t have to have all the answers, but we can begin to trust in the will of our heavenly Father.
Give and accept
When Jesus died on the cross, he did so with open arms. This is the only antidote against Satan’s lies. Instead of closing in, you give of yourself and you give life. Instead of hurting those you love; you accept them, and you accept what God wills for their life. If you feel your worry is selfish, ask God to forgive you. In the forgiveness of the Father you receive great peace.
Jesus’ walk to his crucifixion was made possible only by the Spirit. And later an even greater glory appeared in the resurrection. Find hope in this truth. Trust the Spirit. Ask him, again and again, to help you. Then rise up and carry your cross, like Jesus did – with confidence, courage and strength.
When you rest in God, you bring the best to your life and to those you care for – and no inheritance could be more protective or nurturing.
Image source (modified).