One of my favorite devotional books to grab is The Worrywart’s Prayer Book by Allia Zobel Nolan. Now why would I be drawn to such a title? Hmmmmm….
The chapter I read today hit home. Like a blast. Like a shot. A piercing cannonball.
A worrywart always knows what’s best for their loved ones [who, me?]. That’s because we’re vigilant caretakers who are more aware than most that this nasty world is replete with all sorts of evil, sickness, danger, not to mention calories and other hurtful and downright deadly stuff lurking in every corner—reason aplenty for us to get apoplectic just thinking about people we care for adrift in it. If we could, we’d shove them into a protective ziplock bag and carry them around in our pockets all day. We can’t. So we do the next best thing: like Chicken Little, we run around all aflutter, trying to push them out of the way of the falling sky.
She points out that we fuss about their feelings, their trips, health, safety, failures, things that could go wrong unless WE step in and take action. So we micromanage their lives, trying to limit their exposure to what we think is dangerous or unwise. We do this sometimes even by coercing and manipulating…only because we love them…of course.
But, she goes on to ask, is it really love? Or are we afraid? Afraid we can’t bear the pain if they get hurt? The Bible says fear and love can’t coexist. “Perfect love drives out fear.” Rather than controlling, real love seeks to free people to experience a full life, one that will have both ups and downs.
The author encourages us to ask God to help us to “control our controlling selves” and to teach us that we have to let people we love stumble and fall. “In this way, they can get back up, and without any nudging from us, go on to choose the best path into their Father’s arms.”
Nolan closes this chapter with this prayer, one that I need to pray often, if I am to be the me I want to be:
Dearest God, I know I drive people crazy by obsessively worrying about them…Please help me to detach with love from the ones I love, and leave them in your protective care. You know what’s best for them so much more than I do. So, I pray that your will be done, not mine. Help me to love them in a way that will be supportive without stifling, encouraging without overpowering and concerned but not controlling. Lord, I pray you’ll lead them in your ways and keep them safely under your wing.