Sunday, July 27, 2014

What If . . .

There isn’t enough room
in your mind
for worry and faith.
You must decide
which will live there.

Tortured - MHopkins - Trim Castle, Ireland © 2014
I passed a neighborhood church with a sign that read:  “Worry is the dark room where negatives develop.”  Something in its message resonated to my core, not because I’m a worrier by nature but because, when I do, the train of “what if’s” can carry me to a dark and fearful place in a flash.  It’s not logical.

Like one of my students who, after nearly making herself sick with worry, suffering from insomnia and a whole host of physical symptoms that mirrored her chaotic mental state, confessed that she was worried that if she didn’t do well on the LSAT she would never be able to buy her own home.  What?  Let’s unravel that thought process; break it down for me.  I insisted.  She explained that if she didn’t rock the LSAT then she wouldn’t get into law school.  If she didn’t make it to law school she would never realize her dream of being a lawyer.  If not a lawyer, she wouldn’t make enough money to support a mortgage payment.  In a world full of homeowners who are not lawyers, it was easy to see the fault in her logic.  But it wasn’t logic that cast such a dark shadow on her thoughts. 

It reminds me of the parable about the young business man traveling along an unfamiliar road in rural America when he was stopped by a flat tire.  He couldn’t find a jack in his rental car, and it was impossible to change a tire without a jack, so he set off on foot for the closest home or business where he might ask to borrow a jack or at least a phone to call for help since his cell phone didn't have service.  As he walked, he imagined his conversation with the homeowner ending in rejection.  “No I don’t have a jack.”  “No you can’t use my phone.” And so on.  At one point, he even had an argument with the man he had yet to meet who had yet to refuse him help.  By the time he arrived at the nearest house and knocked on the door, he was so bent with anger and frustration that when the homeowner opened the door he screamed, “Never mind!” and walked away in search of someone who would help.

Worry, at best, is a misuse of the imagination!  At worst, it is the shackle that keeps us trapped in self-doubt and defeat.  Either you have some control over the situation or you don’t.  If you don’t, all the worrying in the world won’t make it so.  So next time you find yourself chasing that parade of horribles, ponder this:  What if all went pleasingly well?  What if you realized your greatest success? What if most of the things you’re worrying about never happen? 

What if…

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