The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


How not to worry

Accept that things do and will go wrong but know God is with us

In her wonderful book It’s Easier Than You Think (HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), spiritual teacher Sylvia Boorstein calls herself “a recovering worrier.” She admits to being one of those people who is continually making up negative stories about what might happen to her. We can identify with that. We, too, quickly forget Mark Twain’s sage observation that most of the things we worry about will never happen.

We suspect the worry machine chugs along in a lot of other people’s lives as well. We are nervous about being on time, looking good, making a positive impression or being a success. Going on vacation, we wonder whether the weather will be perfect, whether we’ll get sick and whether the place will match our expectations and be worth all the money we’ve spent. Going back to school, we worry about whether we will like our roommate, if we’ll be able to handle our course work and make friends.

Why do we spend so much energy worrying? Spiritual teachers have suggested some reasons: We don’t trust enough in God. We are reluctant to admit that we can’t control everything and make what we want happen. We have trouble accepting the idea that things do go wrong. And, compounding the problem, we have been brainwashed by our culture to believe that nothing good can come out of failure, setbacks, tragedy or messes.

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