I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole nature versus nurture debate. Are we really born with certain innate traits, or do we develop them based on environment and experience? As our oldest daughter applies to law school, our middle daughter applies to college, and our youngest deals with the trials and tribulations of being in high school, I can’t help but wonder how they all three inherited, or perhaps learned, their father’s penchant for worrying, doubting, second guessing, and obsessing over the what ifs. Contrast that with my own attitude of let go, let live, and let God, and I think, where did I fail to instill in them a belief that worrying is a total waste of time?
I recently read an article that claimed that there is a great “connection between anxiety and a stronger imagination.” The article went on to say that “Worry is the mother of invention.” That’s funny; I thought it was necessity. Oh, and it also said that “Cheerful, happy-go-lucky people by definition do not brood about problems and so must be at a disadvantage when problem-solving compared to a more neurotic person.” Um no, when my girls have a problem, they come to me. When Ken has a problem, he comes to me. My totally neurotic family aren’t able to see the forest for the trees. I, on the other hand, can see the light on the other side of the forest. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m certainly not trying to blow my own horn. I just haven’t been able to reconcile, in my own mind, how and why worriers are the way they are and the rest of us aren’t. If it were really as simple as “Overthinking Worriers Are Probably Creative Geniuses,” as the title of the article suggests, then why does Ken not have a creative side while I write fiction?
I was at an impasse trying to figure this out until this past Monday, and then the light through the trees became even brighter as understanding dawned on me. I was in a meeting with a wonderful group of women whom I am so lucky to be able to call my friends. Many of us have been meeting every other Monday for the past twelve years. We pray, discuss, read, and learn, and some of my greatest revelations have come from those Monday morning meetings. We were watching a short video in which we heard, over and over, people saying that they always worried, were never content, and were constantly searching for happiness and the meaning to their lives until they realized that they could only find true joy in God. When they learned to let Him guide them, take away their cares, and be the light at the end of their tunnels, their entire lives changed. And that’s when it hit me. It’s not about being creative versus neurotic or being intelligent versus imaginative. It’s about knowing that there are many things in this world that are simply beyond our control. We can only do so much and have to have faith that the rest will turn out okay.
This past weekend, I helped chaperone a group of high school students on our school’s annual trip to New York City. We arrived back home after midnight on Saturday, and on Sunday, I chaired our Post Prom’s Bingo. I had several friends comment that they couldn’t believe I was able to go away for the two days before our biggest fundraiser. I didn’t see the problem. I had everything ready the night before we left, and I had confidence in the others who were assisting me with the event. While there were things that I would like to tweak for next year (including not holding them the same weekend for my own body’s sake), the event was a success, we made money, and we’re ready to move forward. I could dwell on the fact that turnout wasn’t as high as last year, so we didn’t bring in quite as much as we had hoped, but I can’t change it, and worrying about it won’t make a difference; but analyzing why we had fewer people and planning the next event will. It’s all about keeping perspective. Staying calm, making plans, evaluating results, and moving on are the keys to success.
Do I worry about things? Sure I do. Every. Single. Day. I worry about about the future of our country, but I can only look out for my small part of the world. I voted, and then I had to let it go. I can’t change minds or hearts, but I pray that God can. Do I worry about the safety of my children? Absolutely. The health of my parents, the state of world affairs, the future of our school? I’d be living in a dream world if I didn’t. But do I dwell on them? Not for a minute (okay, last night, for maybe longer than a minute).
What I always do is pray every day that my children will learn to let go, let live, and let God. To worry about the future is futile. To dwell on mistakes of the past is incapacitating. To fear every possible outcome is debilitating. But to have faith that you have done what you could, and let the rest happen, prepared to move forward no matter the outcome, will allow you to walk calmly ahead and deal with the consequences. The next time you find yourself giving into worry, go forward, into the trees, and have confidence that there is light on the other side. Your attitude, and a bit of faith, will make all of the difference.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.