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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The problem with worry

Friday, October 29, 2010

The phone call came around 7:20 a.m., just as I opened my classroom door. Jeff, our oldest son, wanted to know why Andy, our youngest, was in a hospital in Mexico. Not surprisingly, I didn't even know Andy was in Mexico, much less a hospital. My policeman son had done little investigative work before making this call. Jeff filled in what little he knew. "I just got a text with a picture of him hooked up to an I.V. in a hospital there." My mind took off like the Discovery space shuttle:

Mexico? Andy was supposed to be playing baseball in Venezuela. Are the two countries so close that he rowed from one to the other and got ambushed by ocean pirates? I thought they were only in Africa. Is Africa close to Mexico? Why didn't I pay better attention in fifth-grade geography?

"I'm calling your dad."

Just as I reached for my cell phone, it rang. Adam, my middle son, was calling.

"Why is Andy in the hospital?"

Not wanting to be an alarmist, I refused to say what I was thinking: "He wandered into the wrong part of Mexico, got mixed up with a drug cartel, and was beaten up."

"I have no idea, Adam, but I'm calling your dad."

"But Dad's in Mexico. How would he know?"

"I have no idea who knows what. Perhaps your dad and brother are together. Maybe the drug lords got both of them.


"Never mind. I'll call you just as soon as I find out something."

While I was trying to figure out how to make an international call, Dave sent me a text, telling me to get on my computer. Sure enough, there was a picture of Andy in a hospital room, with an IV in his arm.

There were no bruises and his head was still in tact. This was good news.

My heart rate started to deselate. It was now around 450.

As it turned out, Andy was not in Mexico; he was in Venezuela, and he had a bad case of food poisoning. We had been through this with him before. If you remember my article from May 15, 2009, it was about my reaction to Andy being alone in Florida with a bad case of salmonella. I wrote then of my worry and how useless it was.

The problem with worry is that it is totally nonproductive, not to mention it is the opposite of trust, a behavior that Proverbs 3:5,6 suggests: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. "Notice it doesn't say "unless you have a friend to call" or "except when it involves your children who are 1,500 miles away." It says "in ALL your ways."

Here I was, two years later, and little had improved in my spiritual journey with trust. Same song, different verse. My worrying did nothing to improve the situation. It never does. Author Dr. E. Stanley Jones knows that; he wrote that worry is "sand in the machinery of life." And he's right. If you are like me and find yourself on the worry side of the trust pendulum, perhaps it's time we get out our shovels and start a little de-sanding.

When I finally heard from Andy later that day, his explanation did little to comfort me. "I just didn't want you to worry, Mom, so I didn't call you. I know how you are."

Well, that's just lovely now, isn't it? Obviously my son has no confidence in my emotional stability.

Actually, maybe it's not a shovel I need. Maybe it's more like a backhoe.

Patty LaRoche
Patty LaRoche: Face to Face