Yes, you read that right. Worry and fear are sisters. Identical twin sisters likely, or fraternal twins that look so much alike even family members can’t always tell them apart. They act similar, make messes together, and sometimes even dress alike to make them even harder to tell apart. There is one distinguishing feature between worry and fear, though: one has a deceitful smile, creeps in quicker to our heart, and stays around longer while the other is a little terror -- loud clamoring dread, and ruining even the greatest of experiences. Both sour our mind, distort our thinking, sap our energy and lead us to dark places and poor decisions. Yet worry is the one we tolerate or consider even noble to hold hands with as mothers. She makes us feel like perhaps we are getting something accomplished. Meanwhile, everything she says is all a lie. She fools us, she traps us, and her unattractive nature is a face only a mother could love... and so often we do!
Of course I'm not talking about any actual little people (don’t be tempted to put your kids’ names in here, lol), but of fear and worry. I’m usually pretty good with identifying fear when it comes up inside me, and over the years I’ve become better at overcoming it. Worry, on the other hand, can get me.
We moved over the summer, which was a significant adjustment, as well as a tax on my marriage, finances, and children. The moving prep time happened to be when preschool enrollment opened throughout the city, and we planned to enroll our twins. I had no energy to put into researching or visiting schools, so I let the search slip to the back burner. We successfully moved, and nobody lost their life (thankfully, although it was close), finances settled down, and my children explored our new home with excitement.
That’s when she got me. She took my hand and held on tight. I began to worry about what we were going to do about preschool. I called and emailed a few places -- anxiously waiting for responses, only to realize after days, most were out for the summer. I reached out to the free public PreK and they were so full, but offered me the waiting list. My boys were CLEARLY ready for a chance to grow, and I was CLEARLY ready for them to go off to preschool. The weeks rolled by, and day after day was filled with consuming thoughts about how we were going to find a school for them. Sure I prayed about it, but I didn’t truly give it over to God. I wouldn’t open my hand to Him, because I was holding the hand of worry. She wouldn't let go, either. School was starting for my older son, and I had found nothing.
Had you asked me if I was fearful about it, I would have said “No, it will be fine... We will find one.” But on the inside, that sinister, ugly worry had a tight grip. Just like twins, wherever worry is, fear is right there, too. Fear and worry come from the same place. Along with the entire family of anxiety, dread, horror, terror, disdain, panic, agitation, and distress... But just like fear, we can overcome worry with love. Do you remember from last month: “Love turns fear out at the door and expels every trace of terror (1 John 4:18)”?
The word worry is a translation of a phrase from the Greek meaning: “to be thoughtful,” considering or striving after. Worrying is thinking over and over something, allowing it to consume every thought. It’s replaying a situation in our minds; it’s feeling dread over tomorrow or that upcoming appointment. As mothers, we often misinterpret worry as caring about someone. “I’m just worried about...” and you fill in the blank. Being full of care is a symptom of worry, which is exactly where I was with the preschool search.
So, let’s get down to it. How then do we overcome, and let go of the pesky hand of worry? SO GLAD YOU ASKED!
The battle in our minds over worry starts with calling it what it is. Worry is fear. Once we come to recognize it for what it is -- an ugly deception of fear -- we can overcome it. Our culture in America says that worry is a good thing. The truth is, worry gets you nowhere! Luke 12:25-26 says it best: “Does worry add anything to your life? Can it add one more year, or even one day? So, if worrying adds nothing, but actually subtracts from your life, why would you worry about God’s care of you?” Worry steals from you. It is not noble or good of you as a mother to obsess about anything. When you hear it in others, and in yourself, recognize it for what it is and call it out!
Once you admit that fear is there, then you can deal with it the right way. Whether you know Jesus as your savior or as a historical man, His recorded words are full of wisdom in this area. Let me share His thoughts here, because this is what jerked the slack out of me and helped me identify and get beyond the fear of not finding a preschool for my twins. Jesus was talking to people, some of which were probably mothers, and just like us, they dealt with everyday worries. I often wonder if there were mothers of multiples there in the crowd...
“This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life, for all that you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing—everything your body needs. Isn’t there more to your life than a meal? Isn’t your body more than clothing? “Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they? So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life? And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these! So if God has clothed the meadow with hay, which is here for such a short time and then dried up and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need—even though you live with such little faith?"
Hang on. I want to pause here a minute in the narrative and say, He is not saying don’t ever think about any of the natural things. We must have clothing, and prepare food... that is life. Sometimes that’s the majority of our lives on the daily! What He is saying is we do not have to be consumed with thinking about and worrying over them. His bigger point is not the things in front of us, it’s what is going on in our mind, and who we are holding hands with -- fear or love. Ok, back to the story...
“So then, forsake your worries! Why would you say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ Doesn’t your heavenly Father already know the things your bodies require? So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”
And there's the kicker at the end! When we refuse to worry, we stop fear in its tracks and kick it out of our minds! I like the word "rebuke", because it’s the opposite of worry. What rebuke means is to “give no thought.” When fear comes into your mind, you can refuse and rebuke it by not paying attention to it. It starts with recognizing the fear in the worry, and then rebuking it by not giving it any of your time and attention. He gave us a practical plan on what to think about instead. In the scriptures above He said, think about His Kingdom and all that proceeds from it. Ladies, that’s where the goodness is at!
To wrap up, we did find a preschool in the ninth hour. Once I relaxed about it, I could clearly see my hands were tied to fear and I was able to let it go. Bye Felicia! You momma, can do the same thing with all that concerns you! Tell those ugly twins of fear and worry that your house and heart are too full of your own multiples to give them any time!
Author: Tonya Flowers is the mother of 3 boys: Lucas who’s a 3rd grader, and 3 year old twin boys, Wyatt and Timothy. She is a nurse part time, a minister at her church, and serves FWMOM as our Chaplain.