Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Work, Not Worry

Sometime in the early or mid '80's, I painted a sign with red paint and hung it above my desk in my room that said,

"-cuts stress by 85%"

It hung there for years, and now having moved 7 times since, I still have it around here somewhere. I was a mechanical engineering student at the University of Utah. I had learned the feelings of hope and confidence, and the relaxation that come when you just get to work and bypass the mental review of the hopelessness of your situation.

We all know the feeling that comes when we finally get started on a dreaded and procrastinated task.

In later years, a friend was being married (sealed) in the Washington D.C. temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which I am also a member. He had asked me to serve as a witness to the sealing. We had some kind of trouble to slow us down, I do not remember what, that typically plague a trip to the temple. I remember thinking I should not worry, simply do all I could to get there and keep my mind on him whose name is on the church I mentioned, and everything would work out fine. - Because after all, it was his house, his program and we were needed there, so they would probably wait for us. Well, we got there in good time and I never forgot the experience or the principle it taught me as applied to trips to the temple and the obstacles encountered with that.

Not too long ago, I began to think perhaps the principles behind the laws stated in the scriptures such as that of tithing that have no ambiguity about when and whether they should be followed, nor question about whether their blessings will come, might extend beyond just the law as stated. In other words, one might be blessed that much more if one gave beyond 10% of one's increase to bless others. Or in the case of thinking of the Savior while in a tight spot, trusting that through him everything will work out fine might be just as reliable when applied to things other than trips to the temple or other church activities.

All this learning not to worry is built on the foundation my own mother laid for me. She met every day on her knees, lingering there with the hesitation to get up that made me impatient and of the sort teenagers in love have when they are on the phone. Then to every threat to her or her family members' peace, she would say, "Everything will be alright." This is the faith spoken of in regard to the mothers of the Stripling Warriors in the Book of Mormon (see Book of Mormon, Book of Alma, Chs. 56 & 57).

And President Henry B. Eyring said about one of his own worrisome experiences, "As I prayed in these last few nights, those and other memories flooded back with an assurance something like this: “Haven’t I always looked after you? Think of the times I have led you beside the still waters. Remember the times I have set a table before you in the presence of your enemies. Remember, and fear no evil.” (See Psalm 23).

"Fear no evil." I liked that because sometimes I get a little paranoid.

So I have learned not to worry, generally. But I caught myself this morning doing it a little and had the lesson reinforced that even a little is not necessary or useful. In fact, it decimates our blocks of faith - that which brings winning power into our lives. I had a situation over the last several days that has occupied my mind as the priority concern. All in regard to it has seemed to go well and have the Lord's hand in it. Still, I am somewhat anxious about it and its outcome will determine the direction of my subsequent magnitude.

So I have been prayerful, calm and patient, but this morning, I began to consider a negative possibility in connection with it that I had not thought of before. The natural response to such a thought is to mull over it as if one owed it to oneself to so do. But being on my game, I blocked it all out just like I can block the dog from coming in by shutting the door. Because I was remembering the things of which I write. I knew that by blocking it off, and leaving such possibilities to the Lord, knowing that the considerations would have no possible actions available, I would preserve the power of my faith.

After holding the door shut for about a minute, it faded off into the forgotten bin.

There is no need even for nervousness in these situations, much less fear. We can rejoice before the votes are tallied, we can sigh in relief before the contest starts. We can perform with a flair. We can relax and enjoy the show even when we are the show. But only if we remember Jesus, pray, focus and act.

Wow. Without even being aware, I just wrote on the ever-popular subject of faith and works.