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I clipped this quote from a church bulletin on what I now see was my twenty-sixth birthday, and I’ve hung on to that scrap of paper for … thirty-seven years now. It’s been thumbtacked to cubicle walls and slipped under glass atop a desk and taped to whatever nearby surface presented itself.
I don’t know what initially captivated me about the quote. Maybe it made me think about my mom’s philosophy of worry. As I remember it, she thought that you could keep bad things from happening by worrying about them obsessively, and correspondingly, if something bad happened because you failed to worry about it, that’s on you. I was the Pooh to her Piglet back then, invested in best-case-scenario thinking.
These days, the quote makes me think of the quandary many conservative folks find ourselves in, concerned about impending disaster and yet not quite able to commit to it. If all the bad things we’re warned of in podcasts and posts and tweets and our favored news media are truly about to crash down on our heads, we should be willing to take extreme action to protect our families and our communities and our country—prepare for civil war, stock up on survival rations, move our investments, boycott corporations that cross us, at the very least get an FJB bumper sticker.
But supposing it didn’t? Suppose it’s all just spin, and getting people riled up to increase viewership and listenership and clicks. Suppose it’s a powerful wind blowing through the leaves, but the trees are strong and solid. Maybe we can just ignore the noise, live our little lives, and believe in the best-case scenario, leaving the worst to just worry about.
Which makes me wish my mom was right about worrying, and we really could change things with the force of our fretting. Maybe prayer, which is kind of a more productive form of worrying, has a shot. It does seem sometimes that only God could sort out the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, and get us out of the woods without a sudden arboreal stop.Published in