We’re told not to worry, but what about the big stuff?
If I had more closet space, I’d probably fill it with my anxieties. Maybe I’m just expressing my inner Woody Allen, or feeling the plight of single motherhood. But sometimes I wish I had someone to help me with the really big stuff in life. The weight of responsibilities can press against me until I begin to feel like a 90 year-old woman in an Osteoporosis prevention ad. Take your calcium…or you too will hunch over and spend your life looking at your feet.
I brought Max into the hospital…again. He’s seen this oral surgeon before, as well as several others locally. But when it comes time to go forward with the surgery, I always back out. I’m sure he doesn’t actually need his wisdom teeth removed, and the small extra bonus teeth he grew are just signs of an overachiever. Those are practically trophies. I realize that a lot of people have their wisdom teeth removed successfully. And afterward they eat snow cones, watch a couple of movies, feel sore and swollen and call it a day. But they don’t have autism.
And they don’t have me for a mother.
I worry. I fret. I Google. I think of every possible thing that can go wrong, and try to come up with a solution for each of those imaginary problems. And then I try to envision how I will live with the guilt of having been the one that said yes in the first place, the one who started the whole ball of problems rolling by driving my beautiful son to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning for surgery. It’s hard work being me. After several rounds of this emotional aerobics I finally settle comfortably into denial and say, “maybe we will do it next year…maybe.”
But this time we are going forward. We have a surgery date in July.
When I started writing this blog, I wanted to tell you that it is perfectly okay to be scared, and worry, and fret, and micromanage, and still trust God. Because some situations really are bigger and scarier and more fret-worthy. My son will undergo general anesthesia. He will have several teeth removed that he might need later in life if he wanted to, say, chew. He could have a very difficult recovery and there might only be enough drugs for one of us. Many times Scripture tells not to worry, but this is not my category of worry; everyone knows that worry does not count when it is applied to a situation involving your child. A mother’s worry is part of the perpetuation and protection of the human race. It is as necessary as oxygen.
I knew others would agree. So I sat at my computer and Googled, because genuinely, I need someone to help me with the big stuff in life. First, I came across Benjamin Franklin. He was holding a key and a kite, but it was about to storm so I knew he had plenty of time to talk with me. “Ben, what do you think about my strategy?” I asked aloud as I searched his quotes. “Shouldn’t I have solutions for all the unknowns, for the problems to come, just to be ready?
“Do not anticipate trouble,” Ben said, “or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”
“Sunlight?” I said with my eyes wide as saucers. “Ben, it’s about to storm! And you’d better put that key down or somebody’s gonna get hurt. I’m a mom, I know this stuff.”
Let’s type in Joyce Meyer; she might be available. I’ll just throw her a question while I watch her on YouTube. “Joyce,” I said as I stared into my big shiny computer. “Help me. I know you’ve battled worry. And you’re a mom – you get it. Making back-up plans is just how we roll with autism. We’re not supposed to fly without a net, are we?”
And I heard Joyce say, “Worry is another way of saying I don’t trust God fully. I want to have a back up plan here in case He doesn’t come through.”
I stared at my glossy computer screen wishing we were on Skype, or having tea, or braiding each other’s hair. Then I could tell Joyce that her words are filled with wisdom, but they can’tpossibly apply to my situation – a time when my child is going into surgery. There must be a special dispensation for such circumstances, a piece of gold-stamped stationary with a hand written excuse. Max has never been through anything like this before. There are risks. And I’m scared.
I closed my eyes as if to block out the sound of it, the thought of it. I will do everything I can to insure Max has the best doctor, the best care. I will ask questions. I will bring in extra help. But to think I shouldn’t worry about something as big as this?
That isn’t a reasonable request.
I opened my eyes to the blur of papers cluttering my desk. Something caught my eye, a postcard standing out from the white pages like a patch of blue sky. And I read aloud the blocky hope-filled letters imprinted across the front,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. God will be with you and will never forsake you.” From Joshua 1:9
I breathed and sighed and looked up. A little bit of weight began to slip from my shoulders. God is with us; He promises not to leave us. And remarkably, His loving arms are outstretched as if he’s offering to hold the whole messy ball of wax, my anxieties and needs and fears and cactus-like spikes of perfectionism. He’s willing to keep it for me, to put it in His coat-check room so that I don’t have to carry it around.
One by one, I begin to pry my fingers loose. I start to get it. Asking me to let go of worry, even in the really big stuff of life, isn’t a reasonable request. Maybe, instead, it is a remarkably gracious offer.