This image came across social media today. It hit a chord with me, so I shared it as well. Even more than the quote, though, what struck me was the responses it received. Multiple people shared that they needed this encouragement, that they ought to make this their mantra.
Worry holds us all hostage at times. Worry plagues us with potentials fit only for horror films. Worry handcuffs us to the worst of all possible outcomes even though those tragedies will likely never see the light of day. Worry's not productive, except that it produces more of itself. Worry just inspires more worry. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy of despair.
So why do we give in to it so often? Our overactive imaginations can serve such greater purposes than worry. The church needs our imaginations. The world needs our imaginations. Our neighbors need our imaginations. Jesus tells us not to worry, for today's responsibilities need our attention.
Think about it this way. We're so often dumbfounded by the needs that face the world and seem to have no idea how to creatively engage the problems in ways that might be productive. Solutions seem to escape us at every turn. Yet, somehow we imagine unfathomably improbable ways that our lives might fall apart. Our imaginations, that creative part of us that might serve to solve the problems that face our world, instead dwells on ways that things fall apart.
I recently watched the movie Tomorrowland. While the film wasn't a universal success (50% from critics and audiences alike on Rotten Tomatoes), the premise kept me enthralled throughout. If the best of us, the dreamers from every walk of life, focus on the good, then our future is not just bright, it's fantastic. However, if we presume death and destruction, then that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that doesn't just occupy our minds,but our vocations, our creativity, our innovation, everything that should produce good instead spirals toward death.
In other words, worry is a misuse of imagination. In Christian parlance, if we're focused on hell rather than heaven, if we're bent upon destruction rather than God's coming kingdom, then we've not only missed the point, but we've also distorted our God-given creative gifts and turned them toward death rather than life. Of course, we can't help our reactions to bad news, but we can direct our time, energy, and focus. Do we focus on the worry, or the solution, to the problem that we're facing?
Be creative, friends. Be imaginative. Don't let worry cloud your hope, but instead, give yourself permission to innovate toward life. That sounds a lot like resurrection to me.
I've had every intent to blog over the past month, but as happens to all of us, I found myself overwhelmed by other responsibilities.
This led to what I'm calling an accidental Sabbath from writing. The month that passed gave me some time to reflect on writing in this fashion. What's the purpose of this blog? What do I hope to accomplish? Who do I hope to reach?
A sense is growing within myself that this blog serves as a place for me to communicate with others, not as a leader, but as a peer. I've things to share, as do others in the church. This blog serves as a piece of conversation with others in the Body of Christ. I don't hope to develop a "following," but instead to contribute to a conversation amongst others committed to the spread of God's goodness in the world.
To that end, I'm planning to change format a bit. My plan is to intentionally engage people and pieces that appear across the internet. Some, like my first posting in this new season, will engage memes and other digital art. Other times I'll introduce articles or blogs that caught my attention. I also plan to engage the work of friends who serve God through their various vocations in the world.
I guess what I mean to say is, at it's best, this blog has always been about more than just me. The most interesting content doesn't stand alone, doesn't flash into being within a vacuum, but exists within a greater chorus of voices. The more I focus on others, the better this will be for me as a writer and for those of you who've chosen to read.
I also hope this inspires you to write as well, whether just a Facebook comment or tweet in reply or through your now blogs and posts. The best would be more personal conversation, so feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As we talked about today in our community, we're at our best as a church when we live life together. Whether that stays located in the digital realm or we meet in person one day, this is true for all of us. We're at our best when we do life together, living not just for ourselves but for the best of others.
Here's to hoping this is part of a conversation that points to the abundant life we see in and receive from Jesus.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.