Wait To Worry: Procrastination at Its Best

Don’t ask me how I got this way, but I just don’t struggle with worry. I know it’s a gift and I am eternally grateful for it. I don’t struggle with fear. My mind doesn’t immediately run to the “worst case scenario.”

Maybe it’s because my folks weren’t big worriers. I grew up in a family with a lot of love and a lot of security. (What a gift to give to your kids!) My folks had a great trust-relationship with God and they with each other. I just didn’t learn to worry.

Whenever there was real cause to worry, the worst-case rarely came to pass. In fact, I’m not sure it ever really did. Not the WORST case.

Sadly, there are people in my life for whom worry is their besetting sin—is it a sin? You may struggle with this.

I wish I could take it away for you. Worry is so destructive. It creates all kinds of problems. It wreaks havoc on our health causing headaches, skin rashes, back pain, digestive disorders, insomnia, dental problems, high blood pressure, just to name a few. It also effects relationships, makes people fearful, anxious, and irritable. It effects one’s ability to trust.

As a mom, when my girls go to a place of worry, I do the only thing I know to do. Since I can’t take it from them, I encourage them to “wait to worry.” Just postpone it. This is procrastination at its best.

“Wait to worry” has become one of my own mother’s modus operandi. The implied message is, “You may have very good reason to worry. The worst-case may indeed come to pass. But … not today. Just wait to worry. There’s plenty of time for that. But not right now. Just wait to worry.”

“But Mom, what if I don’t get that job?”
—Wait to worry.
“Mom, what if we can’t pay our electric bill?”
—Wait to worry.
“What if her fever doesn’t go away?”
—Wait to worry.
“What if this medicine doesn’t work?”
“What if he doesn’t ever call me again?”
“What if she won’t listen to me?”
“What if …”
“What if …”

Wait to worry.

Worry tomorrow, but not today.

Question: Have you ever been glad you waited to worry?

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42 Responses to “Wait To Worry: Procrastination at Its Best”

  1. I was thinking about it today and realized that I tell myself, or someone else, “wait to worry,” almost single everyday. It’s one of the most helpful tools I’ve ever found. Love it!

  2. was up i am 13 and read it. It was good.

    • Great. Glad you liked it.

      I just re-read it for myself. I know, I wrote it, but that was a long time ago. I was just scrolling through my old posts and stopped at this one. I think it’s pretty good.

      And, guess what? I needed to hear my own message. There are some things that are bothering me and I’m starting to worry about them. But … I’ve decided that I won’t worry today. I’ll save it for tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow. I might need to worry, but I think I’ll wait to worry for now.

      Hope you’re waiting to worry, too.

  3. Love this my friend. When worry attempts to creep up in my life, I look at it square in the face and decide whether or not I can do anything about it that day. If I can’t. I let it go and move on… and choose to deal with it on the day I need to.

    Taking my recent cancer scare as an example… I received news my cancer may have returned, but I knew I would not know anything more until the docs ran more tests. There was nothing that day (or for 5 days) I could do about it… so, I chose not to worry. Here I am 2.5 weeks later, just finding out I had a false positive on my scan. (YAY!) Had I chosen to worry, I would have robbed myself of the joy that came out of that 2.5 weeks!

    I choose to live daily because it is too overwhelming for me to live in the future!

  4. It’s been a week since I read your post, and I have thought about it off and on all week. I generally don’t worry a lot, but like everyone else, I can use encouragement in that area. Thank you for being you and for sharing from your heart. I appreciate it!

  5. Sandi,
    How kind of you to share these memories with me. I can hardly see through the tears welling up in my eyes right now. How I miss my mom and dad. And how I treasure the memories of them.

    But the memories seem to get fainter over time. That’s why this comment of yours is such a gift to me. It’s like zooming into that fading memory, pulling it in closer and clearer until I too can hear that great laugh and see her grin. I can picture my dad’s sweet smile and see his gentle eyes. I can even feel the softness of his skin as I would put my hand in his.

    I rarely talk with anyone who knew my mom and dad. And I see way too little of my brothers and their families to reminisce. Thank you for connecting with me and reminding me how blessed I was … and am. May I be found faithful love and trust as well as they.

  6. Gail, the day your brother married my sister in 1966, I was in awe of him — the only person I’d ever met as a teenager who had no apparent hangups, worries, or insecurities like the rest of us. He liked himself. (What’s there NOT to like, I thought to myself as he stood tall & handsome in his AF Academy uniform! :))

    But it was an anomaly to me. Until, that is, I got to know his (your) parents. Last week I ran across another letter your mom had written me over 35 years ago. They were getting ready for a big move, responsibilities loomed with their ministry, and she quipped about getting older– but I could picture her grin and hear that great laugh of hers through the penned words, refusing to worry as she expressed thankfulness for all the blessings of ministry and life — like releasing beautiful butterflies one by one from the page.

    Yep, they were one amazing pair, your mom and dad. Your post brings tears to my eyes because I miss them… and a smile to my heart, because I see them living on through you, their only daughter, who points us all upward as they did. They’d like that. Thanks, Gail

  7. I love this post Gail!
    And I thank God for you!

  8. I love hearing how others deal with worry. Some great ideas here. One thing’s clear if we’re worried about the future we’re not present to what’s happening right now. And that’s the only place we can meet God.

  9. Thanks Stretch Mark Mama! I will keep that in mind. My friends tell me that I live mostly in “my head” and well, I am an only child with aging parents so I am going to use your tools to help me chart this course I call life! Thanks again!

  10. karen – What a great story! Thank you so much for sharing it. Thanks be to God for those 11 years. I’ll bet you have learned so much about living in the present moment. That’s wonderful.

  11. Thank you for your great column. It touched a chord in my heart. I was a worrier – not out loud – but in my heart of hearts. Life was never as bad as my worries.

    And when the worse than my worries happened – leukemia with 25% chance to make it to 5 years – I found God’s grace was right there to smoothe the path.

    But the lesson was not learned at once – each time I went for a check-up afterwards I would worry about would I have enough grace if I relapsed – finally after 7 or 8 years – I realized that the grace I received when I got the original diagnosis would be there if I replapsed.

    It has been over 11 years now since I had leukemia. I still go for twice yearly checkups but I don’t carry the weight of the world and the fear of relapse with me as I wait for the results of the latest blood test. And of course, the lesson learned has carried to other areas of my life.

  12. One way of looking at worry that has been helpful to me is to see worry as a common way of dealing with anxiety. Because anxiety is an emotion no one likes, we naturally try to find a way to get rid of it.

    Worry is like taking a tranquilizer for anxiety. When I worry, it wrongly makes me think I have control over the future, which reduces uncertainty, decreases anxiety, and helps me feel better.

    It seems like the more I think I can control the future by worrying, the more I worry. When I remember that I do not have control over the future, no matter how much I worry, continuing to worry makes much less sense.

    Saying, “Thank you Lord that you have control over my future and that your plan for my life is good,” not only helps me to worry less but to trust God more. When I trust God more, I experience more peace of mind.

    For a more thorough look at worry, check out http://www.lovefocused.com/eb.pdf.

  13. Perhaps He was doing a little extra to get my attention today, which is definitely cool. (Even when it’s a little jab in the ribs, it’s always nice to get a little attention from Him.:))

    We have a “families” group, so in addition to working on our challenges it’s been great to understand our spouses’ fears as well.

    One surprising discovery was that for many of us, worry and fear are much more than [bad] habits. Some of us actually grew up depending on fear as our main source of self-motivation. It turns that giving away your worries and fears is the relatively easy part. But learning to rely on a different source of motivation is surprisingly big (albeit enormously positive) life change.

    Thanks again for your fresh perspective on this age-old topic!

  14. To be honest, with seven children, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to worry. Fortunately, a number of years ago, God gave me a scripture that has helped me a lot. In Isaiah 54:11-17, God is encouraging people who are going through big trials and finding it hard to be comforted. Tucked in the passage are the words that have become music to my ears and my mantra–“And thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (verse 13). No matter what worry rears its head, I quiet it with those words. God is faithful and His love is absolute.

  15. I’m your classic, melancholy worrier.

    Tricks I use to keep myself from dwelling on the dark side include:

    1) listening to music
    2) focusing on some small task that requires enough mental energy to keep my mind busy on that
    3) Avoiding heavy discussions or work after 9:00 PM and choosing to do something happy (TV or pleasure reading)

    So, that’s kinda like what you said, “waiting to worry.” I just keep distracting myself from it. And when I pray, I just pray quickly about the matter and move on. Otherwise I feel like praying incessantly makes me worry even more. :)

  16. Been there. Done that.

    Worry is wasted effort. It wastes the mind, the emotions, and the spirit as well as physical health. Some of the worst things I imagined could happen to my daughter (by hers or another’s choice) did. And we survived.

    I love Scarlett O’Hara.

    “Fiddle-dee-dee! I won’t worry about that today. I’ll worry about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day!”

  17. I mentor young women at my church, and one of my “rules” is the complete and total prohibition of the words “what if.” “What if” is the most useless phrase ever. :)

  18. My Presbyterian minister father once preached a great sermon that said basically that worrying means you’re not trusting God. I’m not much of a worrier either. Like you, grew up in a loving home. That probably helped.

  19. Thanks a bunch Gail. I love when people put into word what I think but can’t communicate. I will be sharing this with my chuch. blessings

  20. OK I have spent all week worrying – Yesterday I finally took the steps I knew to take and gave it to the Lord – Today it looks like the problem is settled. Wasted a lot of time over what appears to be nothing!

  21. Kathy, for some reason I just can’t see you as a worrier. :-)

  22. Brian,
    How cool is that? Has it been a good study? All men? I’ll be it’s been fascinating.

  23. Michael,
    Here’s the deal. Worrying is hard. It takes lots of work. Procrastination is easy. (We all know that, right?) Just wait to worry. Put it off. You can still worry tomorrow, but just not today. That’s my secret.

  24. Gail, you’ve nailed it.

    My wife worries a lot and it’s killing me very often… but I worry, too… we should really work on this together… work on worrying later… you make it sound so easy :-)

    BTW, I posted about this great article both on my blog and on my Twitter:

    http://michaelnozbe.com/friday-readership-on-writing-books-worrying-a

    Keep up this great blog, I’ve just subscribed :-)

  25. Great advice and insight! And because my small group just happens to be finishing the final lesson in the Fearless small group study tonight, the timing of your post seems just a wee bit divine to me ;)

  26. Excellent post, Gail. Unfortunately, I’ve been one of those “what if’s” persons…like my mother and her mother before her. You would think that this far along in my life I would have overcome this but it still rears it’s ugly head. I do NOT want worry or fear to keep me from moving ahead with God!

  27. Sounds like this one has hit a nerve. :-) I love hearing the other takes on this theme. Thanks everyone.

  28. Terrific post….love your wisdom and willingness to share! Thank you.

  29. Great advice. Advice I need. I have been afraid and struggled with worry for as long as I can remember.

    I find myself worrying less and less as I learn to TRUST. But it does not come naturally to me.

  30. Excellent Gail! I have teneded to be paralized by worry/fear in the past. I find today that I do exactly what you recommend and it works for me. I put worry off, pray and give time for God’s plan to work things out… It is a much better way to live. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t automatic. It takes work (action) and faith for me.. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be :-) Thanks for the post, I’ll pass it along!

  31. A very good friend told me last week when I expressed a worry, “Don’t trouble–trouble–until trouble, troubles you!” In other words, “Wait to worry.” Point taken, will add it to my mounting toolbox of how to handle life.

  32. At the age of 16, I proclaimed Proverbs 16:9
    A mans mind plans his way but the Lord directs his steps.
    I pray and then give it to God.He knows best! We all worry now and then,we are only human,but looking to God and resting in him,can give us peace.I agree we should wait to worry!!Great article

  33. I now have it all buttoned up, next time I am about to fly off the handle I shall remember Gail’s remark on dealing with horse manure. You can’t laugh, be angry and worry all at the same time, can you?

  34. I have never met anyone who worries less than Gail does. This is super-helpful to me, since I am a chronic worrier. She is the kind of person who walks into a room full of horse manure, smiles, and says, “Awesome. There must be a pony in here!”

  35. Wow, Gail, are you fortunate in that you don’t worry. Worry is a huge struggle for me as a Christian even though I have read and reread those verses. In addition, I try to meditate on Psalm 139: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties.” I take comfort in the fact that I have wonderful, amazing friends who let me voice my anxieties and show me how so many of them will come to naught; and I also have a wonderful spiritual father helps me in Confession when I bring my cares and anxieties before God and him.

  36. Good words to live by. My mom would tell me “just put it (what ever you were worrying about) on the back burner, you don’t have time to worry about it today”. Although, more often than I would like, I have to be conscience and steer myself away from worry, it is a much lighter way to live.

  37. you’re amazing…such awesome advice….

  38. Gail, you couldn’t have written this at a better moment in time. Just last night, the ladies at my Bible study table sat together and discussed the issue of worrying and waiting and worrying some more, and how God wants us to gather the manna He has for us today, nourish us and then release us to live our lives that very day – not the next day or the next month or the next year. Thanks for adding this. And YES on Fearless.

  39. Great post, Gail. Thank you!

  40. i love this post. I have to say i’m a little like you. I just don’t worry about much and my feathers don’t get ruffled easy. i have friends who worry themselves into the future so much that it drags every bit of life out of them and i hate to see it!

    so thank you for this! wonderful!

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    [...] I read a tweet from @LindseyNobles that said she was “waiting to worry” which is from a post that @GailHyatt had written a bit ago.  So, with loads of prayer and meditating on those verses I [...]

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