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Don't get in a flap over what doesn't matter -- be an eagle instead

"From the Pulpit" column sig
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Ticket seller: “Excuse me, ma’am. Your daughter is traveling on a child’s ticket. How old is she?” 

Susie: “She’s 5 years old.”

Ticket seller: “ She looks at least 12 years old to me.” 

Susie: “Can I help it that she worries?”

Indeed, worry takes a toll. It might even age you prematurely. Someone said “Worry is like riding a rocking horse. You go like crazy but don’t get anywhere.”

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Worry is such a counterproductive activity. You just sit and stew in the negative juices, marinating in your mind’s own toxic mix.

There used to be a phrase that someone was a "worry bird." They were always atwitter in their anxieties. To fill your head with woe and worry is not healthy. It could drive you, and those around you, crazy.

However, it’s one thing to know this and quite another to be able to avoid it. Are folks hard-wired regarding their predilection for worry? They're born that way?

That might be. Some come by it very naturally. It might run in the family with a gene pool for high-strung and flighty folks.

It could also be that it is increased by the worriers you travel with. If your gaggle of associates are alarmed about life, that could well color your outlook, too. Birds of a feather flock together?

Whether by nature or nurture, it certainly cannot be argued that there’s nothing to worry about. Au contraire. It’s easy to make a long list of things that could go wrong in life; in matters of health, finances, politics, relationships or crime. There is plenty to unsettle you, seven days a week. Watching the nightly news is pretty much the anxiety hour, right?

Social surveys show that people are highly stressed these days, with mental unhealth and unhappiness spiking up. Folks are troubled; and it could well be contagious. The world has woes, and any of us can get overtaken by mental distress at any time.

What can you do? Little cutesy songs like “Don’t worry; be happy” are fun, but are of minimal help with anxiety. You can take some measures that the experts say assist your mental health: regular exercise, good socializing or relaxing music. And more than enough people self-medicate to plaster over their anxieties, unfortunately.

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You probably know that Scripture has lots of anti-worry prescriptions. Jesus said: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (Matthew 6:34).

St Paul wrote: “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6).

King Solomon shared this wisdom: “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” (Proverbs 12:25).

To translate this advice into action, be on close speaking terms with your Maker, talking things over with Him who made you and loves you and provides for you and promises to never forsake you. There isn’t anything gonna come your way that you and the Lord can’t handle. Don’t cross your fingers; fold your hands! Daily.

There is a bird far better than the worry bird. Soar like an eagle, as the Good Book says: "They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like the eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31)

Don't worry, be hopeful in the Lord. He is great and good.

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Chris Brekke is a retired pastor who served Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rochester for 13 years and Trinity Lutheran in West Concord for 10. He and his wife live in Roseville, Minn., where he keeps busy with volunteering, church and family.

"From the Pulpit" features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, email us at life@postbulletin.com with "From the Pulpit" in the subject line.

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