MONDAY MEDITATION: The Slavery of "What if…." (February 3, 2020)

“Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? If you can’t do such a small thing, why worry about the rest?” –Luke 12:25-26

Just as we can be enslaved by seeking the conditional love of others, so can we enslave ourselves by our self-chosen problems and projects.

I have a great deal of difficulty setting aside a problem. Whatever it is, great or small, health-wise or home-wise, it doesn’t matter. I’ll go to bed with it on my mind, then wake up and discover it hasn’t moved.

It’s as if by grabbing it and not letting go, I can magically discern all the unknowns and be prepared.

The engine driving this obsession is “What if…” What if this or that happens? Then what? And, omg, what if the very worst case scenario happens? Then what???

And Jesus says, “Lighten up. You’re not God. A little humility goes a long way. You can’t foresee every what-if. So do your best then have the grace to stop and turn your attention to something else. Like ravens and lilies.”

It’s not a coincidence that in his teaching about not worrying, he threw in the images of birds and flowers (Luke 12:22-31). It’s his subtle way of telling us to expand our field of vision. Move from near-sighted anxiety to far-sighted wonder at the world around you. Birds. Flowers. And, especially, people who, like you, are of more value than anything else in the universe.

If I accept the grace to expand my vision, then my mind will relax. The night hours will be better, and the daytime, better yet.

We want to reach up, but our hands are handcuffed.

Jesus reminds us, though, that we hold the keys.



At the beginning of each month, I note a book that I’ve found interesting and helpful. February’s selection is Fr. Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey. You can read more about it here.

2 thoughts on “MONDAY MEDITATION: The Slavery of "What if…." (February 3, 2020)”

  1. I surely know that worry about “what if” is not healthy, but to change the worry habit is very hard for me to break. I’ll continue to pray to rid myself of this habit. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. I am a worrier. I try to think about Matthew 6:34, “ Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

    I also like this quote, which may be a Chinese proverb, but it’s a good one. “That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.”


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