Look up the word "worry" and you will find the first definition is the condition of tormenting YOURSELF. In other words, worry is not something another "inflicts" on you, it is something your own mind brings you! It may come as no surprise to you the twenty plus words which carry some similar meaning to "worry": anguish, apprehension, concern, doubt, fear, headache, misery, misgiving, pain, problem, uncertainty, uneasiness, woe, annoyance, care, disquiet, distress, disturbance, heartache, irritation, nagging, perplexity, pester, plague, torment, torture, vexation, and trial. Wow! Just look at all these words and then begin to evaluate just how many of these describe a condition of heart or mind which WE bring on ourselves and maintain by our own rehearsal of the thoughts!
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. (Proverbs 12:25 NLT)
No wonder we end up feeling totally and completely "weighed down"! It is quite a load we are carrying, indeed! If you have ever stopped to consider the physical symptoms of worry, it might do you good to recognize just a few of them:
- Heart palpitations / heart beating hard and fast. At first, this may not seem like much, but experience this frequently enough and you will eventually "stress" your heart! These can even sometimes lead to sharp pains in the chest, often confused with having a heart attack. In reality, you are having a "heart attack" - your mind is in overdrive and it is attacking the "peace" of your body!
- Sweating or perspiring to some degree which is not related to a workout or increased exercise. Moist palms are sometimes a clear indication of feeling a little worried about the moment. What I don't get is how sweaty your body gets and your mouth gets so dry! It seems like you could spit cotton! What's up with that?
- Trembling or shaking of the hands may be one of the most visible outward signs of worry or anxiety. People who are fearful of something will often develop an outward "show" of their anxiety.
- Shortness of breath not associated with exercise. It isn't because you are "working out" per se, but you sure are "working out" your body to continue to deal with all this "weight" caused by the worry!
- Abdominal pain, stomach pain, and even the dreaded diarrhea all present their own challenges during times of extreme worry. I've even known people to get so "worked up" with their worry they find themselves tossing their cookies!
- Probably the worst thing to deal with is the intensity of fear and the sensation of being out of control. It can manifest in things like the inability to sleep (insomnia), severe muscle tension, and even something as personal as problems in bed.
Okay, so realizing how worry "acts" or causes us to act is helpful, but how do we get out from under this "load" we are carrying? Well, according to our passage, it sometimes is "offloaded" when we can actually talk about it! I think one of the worst things we can do is just shovel it all in and then try to hold onto it. Our bodies are obviously not made to handle this kind of burden for long - it will stress them to the point of breaking!
When we begin to recognize worry is something we do to ourselves, this is the first step in learning to deal with the "load" we are heaping upon ourselves. Worry can come when we take things into our lives which really belong to another - such as when you step in to rescue somebody from something they were meant to take care of themselves. We all do this from time to time, but making a steady habit of always taking on somebody else's issues will only created unbearable issues for us!
The very next verse from this proverb tells us: The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray. (NLT) There is something helpful in taking the time to share with another our worries - not because we want them to carry them for us, but because of what happens when we get them out in the open. A word of caution here - not everyone will understand your worries! Find a close friend, one who will not judge you. Then open up.
The most important person to share our worries with is Jesus. He is the one who actually welcomes us to "cast our burdens" upon him. Our other friends make good "sounding blocks", but they are not meant to carry our burden for us! He is! Our friends might actually help us sort through things, bring them into perspective, etc. Jesus actually takes them so they don't warp our perspective! Just sayin!