By: Cheri Fuller
"Worry is like a rocking chair.
It gives you something to do,
but it won’t get you anywhere."
As we rode up the Maine highway, I felt like a fifty-pound weight was on my shoulders. My friend Linda sang along with a Christmas tape as she drove the car, but I was preoccupied with my own worried thoughts. Just then a car passed, loaded with laughing kids and brightly wrapped packages crammed into the back windshield.
It’s getting so close to Christmas, I thought, but there’s no sign of Christmas money at our house this year. I don’t know how I’m going to pay our rent, let alone buy the children any gifts. If we could just skip the holidays. . . The car veered toward the craggy, sharp rocks that jutted out on the right side of the highway. I braced my hands on the dashboard, and my whole body tensed up.
“Relax,” Linda said. “I’ve driven this road a hundred times. Are you always this nervous in the car?”
“No, not until our car wreck last summer,” I answered, staring out the window.
It all came rushing back as the scene flashed on the movie screen of my mind—the curve, the motorcycle racing around the bend, heading directly toward my car. . . Then swerving to try to miss it. In slow-motion horror, the out-of-control motorcycle flew head-on into us, burst into flames, and slid under the van. I was thrown into the dashboard, seat belt broken. Stunned from the impact of the crash, I staggered out of the car and watched helplessly as it burned—knowing insurance wouldn’t be enough to replace it.
That car wreck had become a symbol of every out-of-control thing in my life since our move—my husband’s job being downsized, the piled-up medical bills, our savings account that had withered to nothing. Lately I seemed to be worrying constantly about whether we could pay the rent or our electric bill. The situation I faced was anxiety producing, exaggerated by the holiday season. But financial worries affect everyone in every walk of life: The farm couple who are afraid they’ll lose the land that has been in the family for three generations. The small-business owner unable to make payroll. The single mom who’s been told her house will be repossessed if she can’t make the payment. The college student whose financial aid loans haven’t come through and she doesn’t know how she can make it through the semester.
If you’ve experienced financial worries, you’re not alone. A woman alone raising children has particular stresses related to money. Many women fear that they cannot make it financially on their own if their spouse’s business fails. They have a hard time believing that God really cares for them. What can we do when finances look like they’re falling apart, when we’ve worked hard, paid bills, and tried to save, but the rug gets pulled out from under us? That day on the highway, when I shared with my friend what was really behind my anxiety was a first step. She helped me bring my concerns to God instead of feeling ashamed for having them or discouraged about them. By getting my fears out of my head into the light of day, things didn’t seem so overwhelming. What I realized then is that worry is much like an avalanche. Once the rocks or anxious thoughts start rolling, they are hard to stop, especially if we’re alone with them.
“Friendship divides burdens and multiplies hope,” someone once said. I experienced that kind of hope and encouragement as Linda and I talked and prayed together. And as I continued to turn each fearful thought into a prayer, my own perspective began to be transformed. Prayer reminds us that we’re never alone, that God is always there, ready to help us. While worry keeps us turned inward, wrapped in our own thoughts and burdens, when we turn them over to God, hope floats our heavy hearts.
Although things didn’t turn around overnight in our financial situation, a few days later I felt nudged me to call the International Student Office of a local university to ask if a student who would be alone for the holidays might like to join our family. We didn’t have much, but by sharing Christmas with a girl from Shanghai who was alone and ten thousand miles away from her home, a young woman who had never sung a carol or heard the Christmas story, it became one of the most meaningful, richest holidays we had experienced.
Between the invitation to Zhu Hong and Christmas weekend, a couple back home placed an order for some of my books they wanted to give as gifts, and the money I made provided enough for a gift for each person, including our international guest. . .and a turkey dinner. And I also found part-time work as a substitute teacher in the local schools, which alleviated some of the strain
© 2015 by Back to the Bible.
“From Replacing Worry for Wonder, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.”