Some years back, grocery stores used to have coin sorting machines. You could dump all your loose coins into a receptacle. The coins would drop and be funneled into separate slots and, within minutes, you would have stacks of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that you could remove and roll.
I thought of that machine the other day, while I was sitting, thinking, worrying. About …
… a friend’s father who recently passed away after a difficult hospital stay and the effects on her family
… the tiny error in an otherwise lovely annual report produced through months of hard work
… my parents, after a longish visit with my sister’s family, might have trouble resuming condo life
… another friend’s myriad health problems
… whether I will have enough money to live on when I retire
… whether I’ll be able to afford to retire at all
… my new sofa, hoping it would not get stained or worn unevenly – still waiting for my spare cushion due to a misunderstanding of my order
… another friend’s adult children and their issues and challenges
… when we would be able to leave for our summer getaway at a friend’s cottage
… whether the weather will be hot, warm, cool, wet – and what I should pack
… another friend’s daughter’s broken engagement and her own employment woes
… whether I should try harder to lose weight or splurge on a couple of new outfits to transition from summer to fall
… what to focus on in my writing – another anonymous mill article, a fictionalized version of my life story, a standup comedy routine for the next Open Mike night, a better blog post than this one
… whether my boisterous new neighbour will have people over tonight or whether I could have a nice quiet dinner on my balcony
And so it goes, my mind like a blender, cares and concerns whirling round and round. I pause for a few deep cleansing breaths, stretch my body – it always makes me feel better. And remind myself that God is in control, while clinging to the promise of Romans 8:28. Soon, the puree of problems resumes and I think of that coin sorter. What if I had something like that for my stress-mess? What if I could organize and compartmentalize my cares and concerns?
I could create categories of cares and concerns and focus on a different one each day: work; family – parents, siblings, aunts/uncles/cousins; friends; home; finances; health; present challenges; the future; the world; miscellaneous. Or I could simply let my thoughts plot their own course and see which worry pushes to the forefront. Alternatively, I could pick one item from each category and worry about it for, say, five minutes every day.
Hmm. Somehow, that does not sound like it would solve any problems, just reorganize them. Which changes nothing. Really, what I need to do is recalibrate my thinking. To repent. To simply let go. Of past failures and future fears. Of other peoples’ problems. Of things that are not my responsibility, and things I can’t do anything about. I have tasted that freedom before; and it’s good. I want it again.
Focus. That’s the key. Accept what is, deal with whatever I need to deal with as it comes up, and let the rest go. There is a season to every purpose under heaven. And as Jesus said, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Wise words and advice I plan to start taking right now…