The following story is condensed from an article that appeared in Today’s Christian, “Not My Job” (July/August edition 2008).
A mother became concerned about her daughter who was in college. The daughter had changed drastically since going off to school. She seemed to consistently need more money sent to her – she no longer took pride in her appearance; she was losing weight, and consistently displayed a “who cares” attitude.
One weekend, the daughter came home and the mother could sense something was amiss. There was something about her eyes and her inability to focus that concerned the mother.
The mother asked her if she wanted to sit down and talk like they used to. But the daughter grunted something unintelligible and went upstairs to shower.
The daughter’s purse was lying on the floor – opened – and the mother couldn’t help but notice … THE PIPE! She felt her heart sink! She knew the purpose of that kind of pipe!
When her daughter came back downstairs after taking a shower, the mother once more asked the daughter if she would like to sit down and talk for a moment.
However, again, the daughter refused, saying she was really tired and just wanted to take a nap.
Finally, mom confronted her with the pipe. The daughter responded with, “It’s no big deal, mom – chill!”
The mother started to protest, but never got the chance before her daughter stormed from the house, grabbing her things on the way out, saying she was going back to the college!
The mother felt she knew how to handle this situation! She would abandon everything else in her life and immediately begin to worry – to take full control FULL-TIME … and FIX this situation!
As time went on, the daughter refused all help from her mother, and even quit college! Mom worried all the more with every passing week. What if she overdoses, what if never stops using drugs, what if she never wants to see me again, what if she goes to jail?
The mother knew that if she stopped worrying – even for one moment, or even started to take a little time to enjoy the company of her husband – she knew something bad would happen to her daughter.
Eventually, the situation began to take a toll on the mother. All that worrying and all those sleepless, restless nights began to have a physical effect on HER! She actually began to look worse than her daughter – she began to look like SHE was the one with a drug problem!
She eventually called a friend she knew in a similar situation, who had a son with a drug addiction … who had in fact, served time in prison. They agreed to get together the next day for coffee.
The next day over coffee, she told her friend, “You can’t imagine what I have been going through!”
However, she was stunned to hear what her friend immediately said to her; she would never forget those words: “YOU need help!”
The mother corrected her friend, “I don’t need help, I’m fine; it’s my daughter who is the one with the addiction and needs help!”
However, her friend responded, “But YOU are ADDICTED to worry and control. I have been where you are. Look, you cannot control your daughter; the only one YOU can control is YOU!”
The friend continued, “It took years for me to figure it out – I’m not in control, God is, and by worrying, you’re telling God that he can’t be trusted to handle things!”
Her friend convinced her to attend a Nar-Anon group meeting, a support group for people dealing with loved ones in addiction. At the first meeting she heard testimony, “My husband (or) my wife (or) my son (or) my daughter is addicted to (fill in the blank) and I worried myself sick.”
The addictions may have been different, but they all testified that the solution was the same: “My peace only came to me when I let go and let God take control!”
Two years later, her daughter got help and even returned to school. But she did so – on her own – without mom’s interference!
One afternoon over coffee, the daughter confided to her mother that she eventually knew she needed to change. The daughter recognized what drugs were doing to her – physically and mentally! It was then that she decided – ON HER OWN – to get the help she knew she needed.
This is a common circumstance that we, in ministry, hear and see too often! Addictions are becoming more and more common in families throughout our community. Much of my counseling as a minister is with people seeking help dealing with loved ones in addiction and they all have one thing in common – WORRY!
Why do we worry? What leads us to believe that we can change anything by worrying? Has worrying about something ever changed an outcome? Has a health condition ever gotten better because we worried about it? Has a relationship or a job situation ever gotten better because we worried about it?
Probably not; in fact, if we are honest, we can most likely testify that the situation actually got worse!
Like the mother in this story, we have to realize, we cannot change anything by worrying! You cannot WORRY someone out of addiction! Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:27 (NIV): “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
“Worry” is a faith killer – it is a destroyer of health and an enemy to our peace and joy! So, what can we do?
The apostle Paul gave us great instruction for dealing with “worry” in Philippians 4:4-6 (NIV): “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (5) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Pray – with thanksgiving – and remember, THE LORD IS NEAR! And recite this verse often:(Psalms 23:4 KJV) “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
The Lord is near – as we walk in our “valley of the shadow of death,” we should “fear not,” because the Lord is with us!