I’d seen that face before. The curved up muscles of her smile straightened as her face tightened. The eyes, that only a moment earlier had been bright with joy, now darkened with concern. The relaxed body that was engaged in a comfortable social conversation tensed up a little when she first grasped the situation.
It was the face of my mother. Her expression changed when she got a good look at me. It was many years ago when I was a young adult and had recently moved out of my parent’s home to live with some friends in downtown Calgary. I still attended the same church as Mom and Dad. So sometimes I wouldn’t see or talk to my parents for a few days. Then we’d see each other at church. My Mom was always happy to catch up with me there.
But the day before that Sunday, we had a ball hockey game. During that game I got cross checked with a hockey stick just above my right eye. I could feel the swelling and pain during the rest of the game. By the next morning I had a black and bruised eye and forehead. So when I showed up to church, my Mom was initially glad to see me. But as soon as she glimpsed the eye her expression changed to that face. It was the face of a concerned mother.
She immediately ended her conversation and marched over to find out what happened and where the other guy was so she could take him down. You know how most mothers rise up like a mother bear when one of their cubs has been threatened or wounded. I of course downplayed the incident and pretended to be embarrassed by all this motherly concern. But deep down it meant a lot to know my Mom was looking out for me.
It’s Mother’s Day. Most mothers are naturally concerned about their children. Bible Commentator Michael Wilkins writes “Mothers have special concerns. As they carry their child during pregnancy, they have the concern of the birth itself and then the ongoing care of this fragile little blessing. They’re concerned about the healthy growth and the proper friends and influences; they think about whom their children will marry and whether they, as mothers, can handle all these responsibilities. Then they become concerned about their own failures as a mother, whether they give enough discipline and love, enough guidance and freedom, or appropriate reward and restriction. Of course, fathers are all involved in these same activities, but the special role of a mother often leads to more direct concern about the past and the future in raising their children.
Bible Teacher Warren Wiersbe make this comment during a chapel message: “It is often said that we are continually being crucified between two thieves—the regrets of yesterday and the worries about tomorrow.” When a mother turns her eyes off Jesus, responsible concern often turns to the worry of despair, or fear, or hopelessness.
But mothers are not the only ones who struggle with worry. Men worry about their jobs, position, recognition and families. Adults worry about their aging parents, children and grandchildren. Young people can worry about relationships, body image, pressure, loneliness, relationship with their parents and school. Seniors can worry about health, provision, loneliness and lack of purpose. People worry about public speaking, competitions, job reviews and changes in the economy.
To worry is to be or feel anxious about something unpleasant that may have happened or may happen. Worry is a troubled, unsettled feeling that causes anxiety. We all have the potential to worry or become anxious. If you have ever experienced or lived through stressful times you know this feeling. You may have experienced a pit in your stomach or butterflies. You may have sweated, felt your heart rate increase, struggled with sleep or felt like throwing up. Though many of us worry, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who likes worrying or can’t wait to get back at it.
Is there an alternative to anxiety and worry?