“Look what I made today in Sunday School Mommy!”
My daughter excitedly ran towards me as we stood in the church lobby. She stretched out her little hand to reveal to me her latest creation and said, “It’s a ‘worry jar’ and I want you to have it.”
I peered down at the tiny jar with the tissue paper glued all over it and did all of the appropriate ‘ooohhhing’ and ‘ahhhhhing’ before replying, “thank you so much sweetie, I just love it!”
As I turned to show it off to the rest of the family I thought, “I think I’m going to need a bigger ‘worry jar’ than this!”
You see, for most of my life worrying has been akin to breathing. My husband used to say that if I could get paid to worry we would be millionaires!
When we got home from church my sweet girl went right into our room and placed the ‘worry jar’ on my nightstand. “So you’ll see it every day Mommy”, she said.
And I did.
I saw it every day.
For the first few days I couldn’t stop myself from feeling that it was almost mocking me. Reminding me that all of my worries, my fears and my concerns would never be able to fit within it’s small space.
What about my deep, almost paralyzing, fear that something will happen to my husband or my children?
That’s WAY too big for such a tiny jar!
What about that fractured relationship that seems so far beyond repair?
It needs 20 jars!
What about those moments when I’m almost certain that I am falling short in my role as a mom?
That needs an entire ‘worry room’ not just a jar!
One day I noticed that the ‘worry jar’ had been filled with some of the rose petals my daughter had collected off the ground while on our walk. Can you tell that my girl is a giver? She loves nothing more than to give gifts to practically everyone with whom she comes in contact.
I said loudly, “Now, I wonder how on earth these rose petals got here!” And she came into the room grinning from ear to ear. “I thought your jar needed filling up Mommy”, she said.
But, I knew the truth. My jar was already filled up. In fact, it was overflowing with worry.
Worry had become my way of thinking that somehow I had control over everything in my life.
And this false sense of control meant that I didn’t need to turn to the One who really is in control.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.”
As my daughter left the room I noticed that she had turned the jar around. You see, that tissue paper was only glued to one side.
The other side had a little scrap of paper, lovingly cut out by little 6 year old fingers.
And I read the words written on that scrap of paper, intended to be part of a Sunday school lesson for 1st graders, as though I was reading them for the very first time.
In that moment, I realized the truth about my ‘worry jar’.
It doesn’t need to be any bigger.
In fact, I don’t need one at all!
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27
And, the answer is NO! No, I can’t add an hour to my life by worrying. No, I can’t protect my family from everything that is bad in the world. No, I can’t fix that fractured relationship all on my own. No, I can’t let my fear that I’m not being the best mom in the whole world paralyze me in my parenting.
But what I CAN do is put my trust and my hope in the One who not only made the heavens and the earth but also knows the number of hairs on my head.
Does putting my trust in Him mean that nothing bad will ever happen or that all of my relationships will be perfect or that I will win the mother of the year award? Of course not.
What it does mean is that He will always be with me. He’ll be with me in the glorious mountain-top moments and He’ll be with me in the painful valley moments.
And what about my ‘worry jar’? Well, just because I realized I don’t really NEED it doesn’t mean I won’t keep it. After all, it was given to me by my most favorite girl in the whole world.
I even still keep it on my nightstand.
But now I see a jar with no lid. No lid to hold in those worries while they swirl and simmer.
Now, I see freedom.