For Those Who Worry
I used to have a hard time calling myself a sinner. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in sin. Conceptually, I’m on board. Sin is everything that separates me from God, from Love, from good and free relationships with self, creation, and other human beings. I see sin’s effects on a global level: every day when I scroll through the New York Times headlines. I see sin on a mundane and local level: every day when Penny asks William to stop making noises and he persists and she yells and he persists and she yells again, every day when William asks Penny to stop reading out loud and she persists and he yells and she persists and he yells again. . .
Our kids are pretty good at admitting that they got mad, that they responded badly, that they need to ask for forgiveness. Me, not so much.
As a type-A, perfectionistic, enneagram 1 personality, I have a hard time seeing my own sin (and probably, truth be told, an even harder time admitting it). Peter and I once got in an argument and he said, “It’s just hard to be married to someone who is always right.” I know what he means. It’s hard to see myself as a sinner when I’m always right. (Now, by “right,” I mean that I do things in a way that is correct and proper, but not necessarily in a way that is loving or gracious or good. Just in a way that is almost impossible to criticize or name as wrong.)
The other thing that goes with not being able to see myself as a sinner is that it’s hard to receive forgiveness. It’s hard, therefore, to know myself as loved for who I am, not how I perform, and hard to love others that way too.
But recently I’ve noticed two things. One, worry is a sin. Worry might even be one of the very worst sins–the thing that keeps me most distanced from God. I’ve quoted before the guy who said that worry is a prayer I pray to myself, and I’ve noticed the multiple admonitions in the Bible to not worry and instead trust in God. But I’ve only recently put two and two together and realized that the opposite of worry is faith. The opposite of anxiety is trust.
The other thing I’ve noticed lately is that I worry a lot. I worry about getting things done. I worry about each one of our kids and their friendships and learning and socialization. I worry about what people think of me. I worry about how I look. I worry about spending too much money. I worry about being too serious. I worry about eating crappy food. I worry a lot. All of which is to say, I sin a lot. I don’t trust in God, a lot.
Here’s the beauty of recognizing that worry is a sin at the same time that I recognize that I worry a lot: I can confess it. I can turn away from it. I can ask for forgiveness and replace the worry with trust, with humble confidence in God’s goodness and provision and protection for me. And I can rejoice in the promise that God’s mercies are new every morning, because somehow my worries seem to be new every morning as well.