Immediately, all the justifications, rationalizations, reasons (excuses?) come to mind. But I don't say them, because he is right. Instead, I say, "Okay, so how should I think about you? If I shouldn't worry, what is the opposite of worry?"
He didn't know, and I wasn't sure, either. Like fear not being the opposite of courage, worry is not an easy term to label, define. I told him I would work on it.
My well-worn Thesaurus and Webster's Dictionary and Strong's Concordance sit on the shelf next to my desk, an easy arm reach away. I love words, thinking about them, wondering, playing with meanings, attempting to use them in intelligent, meaningful ways. I pull out the Thesaurus and skim down the long list for synonyms of worry.
The image of waves comes to mind. Powerful waves pounding on the shore, the spray wetting everything within reach, the rocks worn smooth from the daily impact, the crashes resonating through the sand and air. Beaches re-configured day after day as the waves wear away at the shore. Tides changing, every day different. Anxious, uneasy, concern, dismay, grief, anguish, difficulty, agitation.
I skim down to the antonyms. Certainty, assurance, security, trust, calm, serenity, quiet, peace...The image I see here is water, perfectly reflecting the mountains, the trees, the sky above it. Not a ripple, still, smooth, even, glassy, reflecting. Steady.
Another image, of hands, the Lord's hands, holding, calm and steady, this crazy reeling world of ours. The song, "He's got the whole world in His hands..," murmurs in my head. It doesn't feel like it, these last few days, but He does hold the world, firm and certain.
A theologian was asked to give a brief statement of his beliefs. His surprising answer came in familiar words, simple, steady, not complex or hard to understand, another image, another song:
"Jesus loves me, this I know,Perhaps the reason these water images come to my mind is from a series of recurring dreams. I take the kids to the beach, the same scene each dream, not a known place, except in my repeated dreams. We park about a block away and walk, lugging chairs and towels and shovels and pails and skim boards. During low tide, a tall brick wall separates the sand and ocean from the town. At high tide, the waves crash against the wall, the only sand available when the waves are drawn out. In my dreams, we manage to arrive at high tide each time, and we are swimming in the waves. Not little, fun waves, but twenty and thirty footers that roll in one on top of the other, smashing against the wall. I keep myself and little heads afloat, struggling, attempting to not be terrified. Really, it is a beautiful scene. The water is crystal turquoise, clear and smooth. The waves don't ever seem to actually crash, we just float over the huge swells, trying to get to the shore, which isn't even there. I wake up. Dreams are hard to describe, and I imagine some psychologist or whoever studies dreams could come up with implications. Over the past few years, I have had this same dream many times.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so."
Perhaps this dream is a way of working out my worries for our children. They are not little now. Two of the three guys still at home are taller than I am, the third quickly catching up. In my dream the other night, the youngest had his arms around my neck, and I was working hard to keep both of us afloat.
Swimming in waves is not my favorite thing. I will sit on the shore and watch the waves all day long - from a safe distance. The Southern California beaches where I grew up had rough waves, and I know the feeling of being churned in the turbulence of a crashing wave and tasting sand. Not my favorite way to enjoy a beach.
Odd, that this idea of worry would be so intertwined with waves and water and a dream.
When my son tells me not to worry, I want to tell him of the crazy world, of his personal challenges, that it is my job to worry. But, no, my job is to trust.
To trust the steady hands, the whole world held, secure.
To trust the strength of quiet love.
To accept what we have, here, today. Grateful.
To lighten up, and travel lighter.
Linking with Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky for