“Most people spend their lives running away from something that isn’t after them.”—Unknown
Whenever we were upset about the possibility of something bad happening, before it actually happened, Mom would smile and say, “Don’t borrow trouble. That hasn’t happened yet. If it does, we’ll figure out what to do then. Worrying about it today isn’t going to help.” This kind of conversation was usually preceded by the phrase “What if…”: “What if I don’t get accepted by the college I want to go to?” “What if I don’t get a date for the school prom?” “What if I don’t get the part I want in the play?”
Now, this is the same mother who was sick with worry if we were late getting home from our dates, but that was worry for a real event happening in the present. She didn’t waste energy being concerned about our being late days before the actual event.
Worry is a negative affirmation. When you worry, you focus all your attention on the negative, scaring yourself with pictures of disaster and failure. Worry is different from contingency planning. Certainly, you want to have a backup plan in place in case your first effort fails. Mom had us apply to several colleges instead of just one, plan something fun to do if we didn’t go to the prom, audition for other parts in other plays. Contingency planning enables you to await outcomes with equanimity. As a successful woman business owner once said, “Plan A is always the ideal picture. But it is usually a dream bearing no relation to reality. By the time I get to Plan F, I’ve got a plan that has some chance of actually succeeding.”
I make my plans, put my dreams and goals onto paper and send out my ships. I hope they will come in. But I know I am never in charge of when they come in—or which ships come in. I am only in charge of sending them out. At that point, the winds of destiny and the hand of God take over. Worrying about those ships won’t see them safely past the rocks and the waves. I trust that some of the ships will reach my harbor safely. God will choose which ones. And even if, at first glance, they look like leaky rowboats, they will turn out to be the right ships for me—golden galleons in disguise.