A recent race proved to be a character building opportunity for my daughter. A rower, she knows what it feels like to be in pain. Rowing (also known as “Crew”) requires nearly every large muscle group, and a good coach requires tough daily practices in anticipation of victory at a regatta (the rowing event at which several schools or clubs compete).
On the very day she had two races, my daughter was unwell and in pain. The racecourse was cold, the waves choppy, and she was scheduled to be in the top novice boat. She worried that she would get sicker out on the water, and then let her teammates down. “Push through the pain,” her coach and I told her. “We know you can do it--it may actually make you feel better.”
Sound callous? Not really: her coach and I both know what she is capable of, and we were speaking truth (the demands of rowing would supersede the pain of the ailment). Many times our worrying about a negative result is simply that: a worry, not a result. Pushing through, despite our worry or anxiety, will reap the data that enables us to overcome the next seemingly insurmountable hurdle: “Hey, that wasn’t so bad!” “That did not turn out the way I expected at all!” “I accomplished much more than I thought possible.”
Gavin de Becker, in his excellent (and a bit unnerving) book, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence, makes a distinction between situations that cause real fear and the worry that stems from imagination. True fear, which is connected to our intuition, causes action; worry, on the other hand, “stems from a root [word] that means ‘to choke,’ and that is just what it does to us.”
“Our imaginations can be the fertile soil in which worry and anxiety grow from seeds to weeds, but when we assume the imagined outcome is a sure thing, we are in conflict with what Proust called an inexorable law: ‘Only that which is absent can be imagined.’ In other words, what you imagine...is not happening’” (de Becker, p. 292).
Worrying is the enemy of action and “pushing through.” It consumes our imagination--and we make that imagined outcome the reality instead of pushing through to the real outcome! We sink our own boat, if you will, before even leaving the dock.
My daughter pushed through and realized the reality that her body did not fail her, and she actually felt better after the two races! How about you? What anxiety about your imagined lack of ability or courage is stopping you from taking action? Pray for strength and push through (as Joyce Meyer famously said, “Do it afraid!”). You can do much more in reality than you can even imagine.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Ephesians 3:20-21.
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27.