Worry is my love language


Brain things / Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Good thoughts yesterday. Thank you. I had already written and scheduled this follow-up post, and decided not to alter it based on your comments, even though some of you went the same direction I did, and some did not. Grin.


You can forget about words of affirmation and acts of service. It may be unconventional, but it’s true: If I love you, I will worry about you.

I worry about my children and my man, my foster children and their birth families, my dog, my church people, my siblings, my parents, the elderly, the sick, the lonely, and random people I meet on the street.

I never considered myself a fearful person, but with growing responsibility has come growing anxiety. Surely if I worry enough about things, it will help somehow. If I foresee the problems, they can’t be quite as bad. Can they? If my dog is lost out there in the darkness and I worry, won’t she find a guiding light to bring her home? If a friend is sick and my heart is heavy on her behalf, I’m lifting her burden. Aren’t I?

I know I’m supposed to trust God, so here’s how I solve that problem: I figure if I worry and pray simultaneously, I’m good.

In church last Sunday, my husband Ryan talked about fear. (I hate when his sermons convict me; I avoid it as often as I can.) He said that fearless is not necessarily the goal. Anyone who has attempted to follow a “fearless leader” can testify to the wisdom of a little caution. There is danger out there, but the leader refuses to acknowledge its presence. Full steam ahead, comrades. What’s a little blood?

Believe it or not, I saw this shirt in Walmart today.

Ryan also said that fearful is not the goal. No one wants to live – is intended to live – bound up in fears, unable to live freely and fully. Peering over our shoulders. Dodging bullets in peacetime.

So what is the goal? The middle road is courage, he said, and my heart relaxed.

Courage is not being unafraid. Courage is persisting in doing what you were called to do.

Sometimes as a Christian I am uncomfortable with negative emotions. I idealize a life free of anger, free of sadness, free of fear. But God gave those emotions as gifts – gifts! – for a reason. Without anger, how do we see the injustices of the world? Without sadness, what is joy? Without fear, what fence keeps us off the edge of the cliff? We may not enjoy these emotions, and they’re not a healthy place to settle permanently, but they shape us in indispensable ways.

And fear? The truth is that the world is full of danger. Choosing X path may very well lead to Y and Z calamities; trusting God does not guarantee safety. All kinds of bad things, both imagined and unimaginable, will befall me; my child may die on that surgical table. There’s danger.

There’s no cowardice in naming the enemy, in feeling the fear, in seeing all the things that could go wrong on this path. But if it is the right path, I will choose to walk it. And, harder still, I will let the people I love walk the paths that could lead them to harm – because there is no path that could not.

So let me worry a little. And let me admit it when I do.

15 Replies to “Worry is my love language”

  1. I’m going to get my husband to read this post! He used to interpret my worries for him on the job as mistrust, until I explained that I worry because I LOVE him. Then he thought it was sweet. 😉

  2. Thank you Shari. This is what I really needed today. As an update to my comment yesterday about my husband’s heart he had a cardioversion yesterday and now his heart is at a normal heart rate. I’m praising God for that but I still worry about him.

  3. I certainly do not know you as a person who is paralyzed nor controlled by fear or worry. I see you facing hard, hard situations with appropriate worry, but moving on with bravery and courage because of your ultimate trust in Jesus.

  4. God has been teaching me lessons in trust this summer. He is SO good, SO kind, SO BIG! Life is not about me, it is about Him. It’s when I cling to my perceived rights that I worry or fear. But when I recognize that God is in absolute control working His perfect plan through whatever happens, though it be painful or disappointing to me, I need not worry or fear—I can walk in confidence, peace, joy no matter what, knowing that my Father ALWAYS gives good gifts…it’s just that sometimes the packaging is a little rough.

    Worry…trust. It is so natural to worry. It is so unnatural to trust. Might that be where the cross comes in? Do we not have the ability—the will–to choose? Will we choose to obey? Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commandments [obey]…Let not your heart be troubled” (Jn 14). Will we obey? Do we love Him, or do our choices prove we don’t?

    1. Good thoughts, and I love how your heart is turned to the Father.

      We may need to define our terms so we understand each other – I think what we are saying is more similar underneath than it appears on top.

      My word “worry” may sound too much like “living in fear and staying there and enjoying it.” Grin. When worry becomes an obsession to protect/ to control/ to prevent anything unpleasant happening to me or anyone else I love, I’m in trouble. You’re right – this is not a life of faith or trust.

      Worry as I was defining it is a feeling. An out-of-control, I-can’t-predict-the-outcome, this-could-end-very-badly feeling. I don’t believe the feeling is a sin; in fact, I think it may be a necessary byproduct of a life of faith. If I am keeping myself so comfortable that I never feel concerned or out of control, what kind of a life am I living? Trust, on the other hand, is an action, and compatible with feelings of fear.

      Maybe God wants my undoneness, my inadequacy, my panic at times, so that all the strength rests on Him. I can choose, as you said, to obey, though I may be shaking in my shoes. What does it mean to trust Him if I’m never afraid?

      1. I agree with what you say here. We ARE going to face times of fear, panic, concern…we can’t avoid that as humans! But may those feelings always drive us to the Father–and I think we can all grow in choosing to turn to Him sooner. “What time I am afraid, I WILL TRUST in Thee.” And as we obey Phil 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” verse 7 will be true for us too… “The peace of God…will keep your hearts and minds…”

        Keep writing, Shari! Your down-to-earth, honest sharing blesses me.

  5. This post made my husband and me grin, and become thoughtful too. I realize that I, like you, carry in my heart all the things I love—my husband, my family, my friends, the hurting, the lonely, even (sometimes) the birds that come to my feeder. And so they are there and I think over them and wonder about them and care for them. And sometimes it looks kinda like worry to carry all these loved things in my heart, but it is a very different thing than the panicky, fearful sort of worry that I see as an actual lack of trust in God. (Which is sometimes there too. 😕)
    I really like your call to courage—persisting in doing what we are called to do. Yes.

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