Tuesday, March 22, 2016

On Giving Up Worrying (About My Aging Parent) for Lent

Worry.  Specifically over our aging parent.  It robs us of sleep, it saps our energy; it kills our effectiveness.

One year as Lent approached, I asked myself, "Could I give up worry for Lent--one moment at a time?"

After all, one year I'd given up chocolate for Lent.  When I announced my goal, my kids' reaction was disbelief, "You'll never make it.  You're the worst chocoholic ever.  Worse than Ruby."

Ruby, our Hungarian hunting dog, sniffed out chocolate anywhere and everywhere.  She wolfed down an entire chocolate cake one Halloween and a half dozen fundraising chocolate bars on another day. 

But yes, I managed to live without chocolate for 40 days.  But could I live without worry?  This was a pattern ingrained in me, worse as I thought about my dad, who struggled with late-stage Parkinson's. But worry wasn't doing me any good, or anyone else, for that matter.

My strategy was simple.  I tied a rubber band around my left wrist.  Every time I experienced a "worrying" thought, I snapped the rubber band.  Not to punish myself, but to give a gentle reminder that my worries didn't produce anything productive. I also let a couple of people know about my plan so they could hold me accountable.

I'd like to say the rubber band therapy totally cured me of worry.  But it didn't.  It did bring to light the extent of my issue so I could work on it. One thing that helped tremendously was to add a simple prayer, "Help me!" as I found myself in the worry mode.

Easter came.  And the end of rubber band therapy.  Did the worrying end?  Not totally.  I no longer wear a rubber band bracelet.  But the prayer, "Lord, help me!" is still with me, to pull out and use, not just during Lent, but all year long.

Happy Easter!

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