Saturday/Second Week of Advent

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about our body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Worry, and its first cousins, anxiety and stress, are familiar companions in our 21st Century world. But worry isn’t a new phenomena; it’s been around for centuries upon centuries as the above reading reminds us. And of course, at this time of year particularly, we get a double dose. If not from our own life, from the traffic, the crowds, the rush to get everything done on top of everything else.

But worry is a habit. And habits can be changed. We all know that. But in order to change the worry habit, we have to notice what’s going on in our heads and most of the time it’s so familiar, we don’t notice at all. And we wear the same tracks over and over into our brains and reinforce the worry until we have a our own personal Grand Canyon traveling with us everywhere, ready to jump right in with more worry at precisely the moment we need it most.

Advent, the beginning of the new church year, is a perfect time to begin a new practice. It’s a practice I’ve taught for years, but I can only teach it, each person has to put it into practice, over and over and over in order to learn to change worry.

I use the word “trust.” It’s a word I use a lot, not just to stop myself worrying. I use it in my preaching, my classroom teaching, in every day conversation. And students always want to know “trust what?”

It’s not a matter of trusting anything – not a person or a job or a teaching or anything else, it’s simply (and here’s the hard part) trusting your journey to take you where you need to go. “But where do I need to go?” you might ask. “I need direction!” you might say.

The thing is, you’re already on it. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be here. Now, you might not like the journey you’re on but you’re still on it. Learning what you need to learn from where you are right now will allow you to make a different choice when it’s time to change paths.

It takes a clear head to see the crossroad and make a choice. It takes courage. Clear your head.

When you hear your mind chattering, tell it to trust! Try it now: take a breath and out loud, tell your mind “Trust.” Notice what your body does. Notice if your shoulders drop. Now. Keep practicing.

The road to Bethlehem has many challenges, but worry is something you’ve packed yourself. You might want to leave it alongside the road and lighten your pack.

More thoughts below on “Rest” and giving yourself a time out this holiday season.

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