Worry-Free Living in a Worried World
Is it even possible to live worry-free in a worried world?
I am here to testify, yes.
If you have been here for a while, you might be shocked to learn, it has been four years. Four-years, since our beloved John-John, our second oldest child, our firstborn son, boarded a bus for Marine Bootcamp.
The boy is back in town.
He finished his commitment with the USMC and is headed this way with his wife. I actually won’t see him for a couple more days, but I am curious. Is it just me? How does time fly by so quickly?
Four years, I thought would be the end of me, and just like that, it is over. When I stop to consider this, who I was four years ago, I am undone by what four years can do. Merely days after he boarded that bus, already drunk on worry and fear, I did the next hard thing and buckled a baby girl into her car seat one last time. She had been our daughter for nearly two years. As a foster family, at the time, there was always the worry that she would go. The surreal moment of her departure was worse than the worry that led to its conception.
A week later I turned in my second manuscript, Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, a testimony of motherhood at its best… and absolute worst. Before it even hit its first round of edits, we left our home of 25 years and moved to Houston, i.e., I lost my mind and we ran away from home.
Worry driving the U-haul trailer.
Since then, I have launched three books, turned in a fourth to be released in November of 2021. Book five is in proposal form and out and about, doing its thing. I morphed into a professional, published artist, my pieces can be found in major retailers. And just like that, everything is different. I am not a hysterical, broken, shell of a woman and John-John is back in town.
What do worry and strife gain us?
Perhaps they are emotions that simply keep us certain, we are alive and breathing.
I categorically recall the moment I gave up worry and turned the tables on terror. In spite of the fact that it was a hard road to maneuver, I wouldn’t trade a moment of the ride for the freedom of having arrived.
And not arrived as in success, but arrived in having challenges that morphed me into a “roll with it” kind of human.
On the other side of worry is harmony.
Harmony is the resulting state when different things come together without clashing or disagreement. I fully believe, no matter what our beliefs, we were created for harmony.
Humans are unique in their ability to polarize on issues and then, set up camp in their one familiar corner and maintain a stance of “us against them.” I propose these camps make us feel safe. We are not worried surrounded by an imaginary field of protection around what we are sure of. Four years ago I was known for my tell it like it is snark, I know I believed harsh words were my safe place. And while this gained me a few million reads and afforded me a couple of book deals, I am just not that girl anymore.
My humor is not gone, neither is my folly or my ability to tell a self-deprecating truth now and again, but I crave harmony. The first time I realized how much harmony I require was when a brawl broke out on my Facebook page between two readers with very different political beliefs. I had seen the two women interact peacefully on my page before. In this instance, they were out to entirely destroy the other with verbal assaults, character assassinations, a few jabs at each other’s mothers. The discourse left me rattled.
Their commonalities challenged me.
Both women homeschooled their large brood of children, both lived on lucrative farms in the midwest, both were educated, articulate, and advocates of foster care and adoption. I neither agreed nor disagreed with their argument. And I found myself in a completely neutral state of opinion. So, I was forced to ask myself, am I lukewarm? Am I just a bump on a log in a world of raging opinions? What is happening to me?
Furthermore, If something I had said had caused such turbulence, what if everything I said created harmony? At first, I remember thinking, “talk about un-fun Jami, are you just going to write words about peace, love, and a war on plastics?” About two seconds later, when some jerk in a monster truck with a sawed-off muffler and naked lady mud flaps, cut me off, nearly running me off the road, I thought, “Nope.”
I am not going to lose my whit, snark, or frustration with the world and toxic masculinity. Seriously are we not more advanced than naked lady mud flaps? But I am going to be a safe landing. A place where there is an opportunity to look at the flip side, and believe in a sunny side, embrace that sunny side and offer love. Even when fear and worry are the norms.
What we resist persists, what we practice we perfect.
So with 4 years in my rearview mirror, I have resisted less, practiced much, and changed my mind about changing other people’s minds through harsh words. Yes, words are powerful.
And sticks and stones may break my bones… and I don’t care how the saying goes, words can hurt me. Which means, they can hurt you too.
If words couldn’t move us, there would be nothing to say and no reason to say it.
Sure, there are some who are wired to be tough as nails, you go girls. However, I am not one of those girls. I don’t like confrontation and I don’t want to be attacked. And for years I thought this was a character flaw, the shoulds and shouldn’ts, woulds and wouldn’ts were the things that busied my mind and sent my fight or flight hormones soaring. In a brain space where the subconscious is continually reminding you, “you’re doing it wrong,” in what capacity are we ever able to move forward?
Stuck in a replay mode of all that is wrong and the worry that comes from believing so, this is where I know I was mostly paralyzed.
So I changed the words, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, and words CAN hurt me.”
I sat with this for a long time. This is part of my wiring. I am sensitive, not hypersensitive, or diagnosably sensitive to confrontational or hateful words.
So much so, that after hundreds of emails telling me off, telling me I was horrible, or dooming me to hell, I would physically jump, in a startled fashion when my phone would alert me to a new email. I would check my email through trembling fingers and delight in relief upon seeing, it was just the cable bill.
Which also alerted me to the fact, I am paying too much for cable.
Still, it was in the space of acceptance of how I roll, I found harmony for myself. I came to terms with this: I was not created to live in fear and worry. Just like succumbing to an illness, putting on some pajamas, and giving in to the need to rest and recover, I stopped berating myself for not having a thicker skin, and instead acknowledge the tender underbelly of my affliction for “bad” words.
A few weeks later, I got an email alert, and I panicked.
But I stopped and took a deep breath and consciously created and new thought. “I bet this is good news from my agent.” And then I opened the email fully expecting good words. It was another cable bill. And I am still paying too much. However, I made this a regular practice. Instead of worrying the worst was coming, I started training my mind, to expect better. I started being conscious of negative thoughts, and deliberately creating harmonious, worry-free, peaceful thoughts.
Whenever the thought came to mind, “you should be tougher,” I would banter back, I don’t need to be tougher, I need to be Jami.” A few weeks later a post I wrote five years ago for an online magazine began circulating again. Back then the post had caused me much grief, I got a lot of hate. What I sent out into the world harshly, returned to me in the same fashion. I was completely caught off guard by the first email attacking my existence, however by the fourth, I was resolved to harmony.
I wrote out an email response that said, “Thank you for sharing your opinion with me. As a writer, it is nice to know my words are being read and that they are thought-provoking. I appreciate you taking the time to reach out to me.” And I signed it with my trademark signature, Jesus be all over you. Love, J
Honestly, if there was a hint of ugliness in an email, I didn’t bother reading the whole thing.
I would just copy and paste the form letter into a response and move along with my life. And that is when I realized, I had changed. I want to be read. Not everyone is going to agree with me and… I didn’t HAVE to be hurt by an attack. Greater, I didn’t have to have preemptive worry about an impending attack… that hadn’t even really happened. I just had to practice the emotion I did want to feel instead of the one I didn’t want to feel. And I wanted the feelings of harmony.
Sticks and stones may break my bones and I only am hurt when I let my mind run me over with what someone says.
Words could hurt me, but only if I let them.
The bottom line is worry-free living and harmony starts with me. Scrolling through our phones or lounging in our Lazy-boys we live in a constant state of being chased by a lion. Our bodies don’t know we are not in the throes of a physical threat. Harmony with words is essential because we are inundated with 24-hour bad news, rants, raves, disagreements, and raging opinions. Before iPhones and on-demand interaction, the chemical stress of a confrontation with someone that disagreed with our core beliefs in our safe place or offended us was a chance encounter, not a persistent existence.
There is not one offensive post, email, or reported catastrophe that can break your bones, but those words can definitively upset your mind space. There are real threats to our well-being, but what goes on in our heads, our heads believe to be real.
Worry-Free living begins with recognizing worry as a lion and then turning that lion into a lamb.
Some of the things I worried about four years ago did happen. And, some of them did not. But I neither advance or was destroyed by what I worried about. None of the horrors that I imagined were stopped or delayed because I circulated them over and over in my mind. This is the essence of worry. A mind game of what-if wickedness, worry, and dread.
In Luke 12:25-26, Jesus says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” And we have memorized these life-giving words and then worry about how we do not embody them. The most powerful good words were meant to set us free, not hold us captive.
So I end my four-year stint as a Marine mom with a post that may have just been word vomit and of no consequence. But I am not worried about that. The world keeps spinning. I can choose to worry about what will happen next or expect the best, think on what is good, pure, and holy, and advance ahead another four years, doing just fine.
Jesus be all over you. Love, J
Welcome home John-John, thank you for your service. Semper-fi Boo.
Visit changeyourmindchangeeverything.org to learn more about my new e-course, Socialwised U. In a world that is more cyber than real it is time to PREPARE, EMPOWER and PROTECT our families online!