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A cartoonist by the name of J.R. Williams invested a character names Worry Wart for his Out Our Way With the Worry Wart cartoon. [1]  From this cartoon, we derive the term worrywart, which means “a person who is inclined to worry unduly.” [2]

In reality, worry is a whole lot more problematic that a wart.  It’s a pernicious pattern of negative thinking that takes a stranglehold on your life and can lead to serious and debilitating anxiety disorders, which are likely worry on steroids.  Before we go much further, let’s see what the secular definitions are for worry and anxiety from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

  • Worry – 1: a: mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated; anxiety; b: an instance or occurrence of such distress or agitation. [3]
  • Anxiety – 1: a: painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill; b: fearful concern or interest; c: a cause of anxiety; 2: an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it. [4]

Let’s take a look at worry first, since I believe it is the seed from which anxiety grows.  Worry, it seems, can literally grab you by the throat.  I heard of a woman who found herself in this very predicament; she was worrying herself to death.  She lived a stressful life, with a great deal to worry about.  She found it harder and harder to catch her breath.  Naturally, she went to the doctor, believing she was suffering from a physical condition.  His conclusion, however, was unexpected.  Her physical reaction to the stresses and worries in her life were being played out in the muscles around her throat, which were constricting tighter and tighter over time.  The doctor explained she was slowly suffocating herself due to her stressful life.  I have known many people who felt that way, metaphorically. 

It makes sense, though, doesn’t it?  Worries literally choke us off from living a full and happy life.  Jesus uses this analogy Himself during the parable of the seeds found in Matthew 13.  It’s the story of a farmer who goes out to plant seeds.  Some of the seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds quickly died for lack of water.  Other seed fell among thorns, where it started to grow but got choked out.  The rest of the seed was planted in good soil, where it produced a bountiful harvest. 

Jesus had just finished telling this story to the crowds when the disciples came up and asked Him about it.  He said that the seed is the Word of God in our lives.  This is a great story with multiple applications, but I want to focus on the third kind of seed, the seed that fell and started to grow among the thorns.  Jesus said:

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.  – Matthew 13:22

Worries become like thorns around you, ever growing, crowding out the good things in your life, including God’s Word.  Worries consume your energy and resources, only to entangle your very life, thoughts, and hopes.  Like being caught up among thorns, you need to find a way out. 

If you are struggling with worry, anxiety and fear, The Center is here to help.  Contact our admissions department at 1-888-771-5166 to have a confidential conversation with a specialist, and determine a plan to live your life with joy, hope and happiness. 

[1] The Word Detective, “Worry Wart,” August 2007, http://www.word-detective.com/2007/07/31/worry-wart/ (accessed September 19, 2008).

[2] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., s.v. “worrywart.”

[3] Ibid., s.v. “worry.”

[4] Ibid., s.v. “anxiety.”