My Next Disease

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“SO—WHAT IS SARCOMA?” I asked the doc. “Well, let’s just say that if you were walking in to shop for a disease off the shelf, this isn’t one you’d probably want to pick,” he replied.

Thus began a nearly four-year journey through surgeries, chemo, radiation, and other assorted medical adventures.

Eight years of clean scans have passed, and I’ve now found on the shelf the disease I really do want to pick and take to the checkstand. Frankly, I’d like to contract a terminal case of it.

What I want is ataraxia. It’s from the Greek word ατάρακτος (ataraktos)—and carries such meanings as “peace of mind,” “freedom from worry,” “emotionally undisturbed,” and “tranquil.”

To be sure I come down with a roaring good case of ataraxia, I have found that daily injections of Matthew 6:31–34 work better than just about anything else:

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”—NKJV.

As a former Black Belt in worry, I can tell you a few things I’ve learned on the subject:

  • Worry never works. If I worry about the past, that doesn’t change what’s happened—so worry is a waste of time and energy. If I worry about the future, it never affects the outcome. What does affect the outcome is focusing not on the problem but on possible solutions. Action is worry’s worst enemy.
  • Worry paralyzes. The one thing nearly any problem needs is action. But the action needed is impossible when immobilized with worry. Worry is a set of spinning wheels. Action is traction.
  • Worry is a choice. So is not worrying. No one forces you to worry—you choose it.
  • Worry is the child of fear. Ataraxia—or peace of mind—is the child of trust. And trust grows when certain truths of the Word become internal: Psalm 55:22; 86:7, Isaiah 41:10, Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 4:19, and 1 John 5:14 are just a few of the words that feed trust.
  • Worry is a hand shadow. A child’s tiny hand held in the light can create huge shadows on the wall—even some scary ones. But most worries about the future really are just shadows. They aren’t real, and few of them ever happen. And even that one time out of a hundred that worry steps up to bat and gets a hit, it’s usually a weak, pathetic little infield grounder.

When I was a little kid, I worried myself silly when the lights went out. I just knew there were bears under my bed—big, angry ones with long fangs, ready to have them a little-boy supper. Now in adulthood, I know there never were any bears. So why do I now too often worry about the bears in my future?

You see now why I want to come down with a permanent, incurable case of ataraxia?

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