In theology today, my professor began class with a question:
"If you went into high school knowing you would get into the college of your choice, what, if anything, would you have done differently?"
This question, and my response to it, has been on my mind since because I know exactly what I would have changed: I would have put less pressure on myself, not always gone the extra mile. Bigger than that, I would not have been anxious and stressed all the time about attaining a perfection that I set out for myself.
Recently, I have felt the urge to live a "worry free life," and I think, if high school had had this caveat of me getting to go to college wherever I wanted, this is the kind of life I would have lived.
Still, this reflection isn't meant to be one that dwells on what was, but meant to inspire a new way of thinking for the present and future, this idea of a worry-free life.
What does it mean to be worry-free?
I think not worrying is often so hard because it assumes a certain trust in the unknown. Often times, we may feel this need to worry, compelled to do so because "stress is good." Before tests, I've become anxious when I'm NOT feeling anxious about it, thinking that my confidence in the material must be some sign that everything will go terribly wrong. But where is the logic in that?
A lack of worrying assumes a trust in the unknown because when we make the conscious choice to stay calm and collected in troubling situations, we are surrendering ourselves to the course of life.
When we choose not to worry, we simultaneously allow whatever will be, to be.
I use the word choice here intentionally because not worrying is a choice we make for ourselves. Our lives are in our hands: we can choose to not trust ourselves, not trust God or whomever, nor let life take its course, and be anxious about the outcomes of situations, or we can choose to surrender ourselves, by trusting that we are doing the very best we can, and let whatever will happen, happen. Not worrying is a letting go of that need for perfection.
Surrendering and trusting do not mean that if we want something, we shouldn't take action to get it, just that the backdrop of anxiousness and stress about the outcome disappears.
I have a book by Max Lucado called Live Loved: Experiencing God's Presence in Everyday Life. In this daily devotional, there is a section called "Worry Doesn't Work." In it, Lucado reminds us how:
Fret won't fill a bird's belly with food or a flower's petal with color... you can dedicate a decade of anxious thoughts to the brevity of life and not extend it by one minute."
"Worry accomplishes nothing."
Think about it: Does worry bring anything to your life? Does it add joy and insight, love or learning? For me, I'd say the answer to all of these is no.
This does not mean that we should not be ignorant about the world's issues and problems surrounding us, but that with a worry free mindset, we will be able to approach them with greater insight.
Since coming to college, I've found myself doing less work, and spending more time with the people around me. Of course, I still worry about things. However, now more than ever, I want this to shift. Worry simply has no purpose in my life.
Life is infinitely important and full of meaning, yet at the same time, the little things aren't meant to be taken so seriously.
So, the next time you find yourself anxious or stressed, worried about that test, that relationship, that job you applied for, take a step back and ask yourself: Is this mentality serving me? Just that act of recognition may be enough to shift your mindset into one that is full of less worry and more trust and faith.
Let's all strive to live our lives worry free,