“New Year’s Resolutions,” Jan. 2, 2018

I wanted to make a New Year’s resolution. It’s a new year and that’s what we do, right? So what would it be? Exercise? Lose weight? Eat more veggies and less chocolate?

Those are fine goals. I’ve made them all in the past and broken every one of them by February. So this year I decided to raise the bar a bit for an even greater challenge. For 2018, I resolved (drum roll, please) to worry less.

Less than I do now. Which is plenty. I’m a mother and a nana. Worry comes with the job. As a child, if I did something harebrained, as I often did, I’d get a lecture from my mother: “You don’t see danger!” she’d say. “You have to watch for it! If you don’t see it coming, how can you keep it from killing you?”

That didn’t make sense, but it was hard to argue. Turns out, she needn’t have worried. With the arrival of my first child (and surely with my third) I learned to see danger in everything.

I once heard my eldest say to a friend: “If you tell my mom a plan, any plan at all, she’ll see three ways it can kill you.” Not true. I never saw three ways. I saw two at the most. But the boy never saw danger at all. So I saw it for him. And for his brother and sister and everyone and everything I ever loved.

It’s hard, thankless work being a worrier. If you look for danger, it will find you. And it will blind you to joy and laughter and life.

Recently, I sat by a window looking out on Monterey Bay, worrying about my brother. Joe is blind and can barely walk. He lives alone and wants to keep it that way. I don’t know how long he can do it. Or how, if the time comes, I’ll get him to change it.

I was mulling all that over when I noticed across the bay a small white cloud hovering just above the shoreline. It appeared to be growing larger.

What could it be? A fire? An explosion? Some kind of toxic gas? Should I call 911?

I ran to the window for a closer look. Then I laughed. The “cloud” was a smudge on the glass.

Most of what I worry about is like that “cloud.” It exists only in my mind. I make it “real” by dwelling on it. I let it rob me of peace by giving it a power it doesn’t possess. I live in dread of it, rather than letting it go.

I would like to stop worrying about things that aren’t real. Or that, even if they are real, I can’t do anything to change them.

Being a mother taught me to worry, but it also taught me this: There are some things I can fix and a lot of things I can’t. In the time I have left on this earth, I’d like to focus on the fixable and leave the unfixable to God.

How? Here’s my plan:

First, I’ll pray. I’ll give thanks for all my blessings and tell God about the unfixable things I’m counting on him to fix.

Second, I’ll sing. Singing is a great tonic for worry. Most any song will work, but here are my three favorite no-worry songs:

_ A hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (“Tune my heart to sing Thy grace/ Streams of mercy, never ceasing/Call for songs of loudest praise.”)

_ Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” (“Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be alright.”)

_ And William DeVaughan’s R&B classic, “Be Thankful for What You Got” (“Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac/ Gangsta whitewalls/ TV antennas in the back/You may not have a car at all/ But remember brothers and sisters/You can still stand tall/ Just be thankful for what you got.”

Finally, I’ll talk about the worry to a friend who’s good at cleaning smudges off windows and helps me see more clearly.

Pray, sing, talk, worry less and be happy. That’s my resolution.

What’s yours?

Here’s wishing us all our best year yet. May our prayers be answered, our dreams come true, and may all our worries be smudges on a window.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

Comments

  1. Cynthia says:

    I’m afraid worrying is a dominant gene in our family passed on through a multitude of generations. So. although I try not to worry, worry I do still. I like music and songs but I have found a mantra that works better for me…Be still and know that I am God…simple, to the point. Working hard on keeping it in my thoughts every day.
    Have a happy New Year!

  2. I enjoy your articles very much. Enjoy Josh in his new TV show. xxoo Reply

    Reply

  3. Linda White says:

    So often you speak straight to my heart, and today’s column really resonated with me. You mentioned the hymn, “Come Thou Fount” — the second verse especially encourages us to trust God rather than worry: “Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I’ve come….” “Ebenezer” was the name Samuel gave to a stone he set up to remind the Hebrew people that God had never failed them, and could be trusted to carry them through any difficulty (1 Samuel 7:5-12). Thanks so much for your warm and articulate reminder today!

  4. Felicia Hancock says:

    I have decided to echo your resolution although once I give up worry, angst, and anxiety it may be a very empty room! I have another song you can add to your list of those it helps to sing when worrying. Technically, it’s a Psalm so you will have to make up your own melody. Sometimes that’s better anyway. It is Psalm 121. As usual, God always comes up with the best lines. He includes things like, “From where does my help come from? my help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.” Then there is a line about not letting your foot be moved and one about “he who keeps you will not slumber”. That is my favorite. God isn’t grabbing a few winks, taking His hands off the wheel or texting. Hope you like the song.

  5. Wayne Daugherty says:

    Sharon, I love reading your column! You have such a way with words! I just read your most recent article about making a New Years Resolution to worry less! Your first point was to pray to God,thanking him for all your blessings and then ask him to take care of all the things you can’t fix and then sing! I love it! God has blessed you with a special way of telling stories that we all need to hear! I hope that you will continue to tell those stories for many more years to come! God Bless You and Your Family!

  6. Thanks, Sharon. You’ve presented an important and personal lesson for all of us.
    Happy New Year!
    Bruce

  7. Shashi says:

    Happy new year Sharon ! Love to you. And many more wishes to you and family!

  8. Carol Weesner says:

    Love you and yours. Happy New Year.

  9. James W Peterson says:

    Ms. Randall,
    From the beginning of your column to the reference of Robert Nesta Marley’s song, the music was already playing in my brain. Nice to know you appreciate vintage reggae. I always did like hearing about your window’s view towards the Monterey Bay. May every ominous cloud be a window smudge.
    Love yah.
    James

  10. I try not to worry too much because my mommy worries enough for the both of us. But I’m a momma, too, so I have to worry some.

    My resolution is to learn how to listen better.

  11. Beth Heeren says:

    Thanks Sharon!
    I’ll try to pray more Nd worry less too!

  12. Kate Sciacca says:

    I try to live by this quote from Padre Pio: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

    But it’s tough sometimes… I was actually way more relaxed with my kids (heck, I’d have died of worry if I fretted over all eight at the same time!!!) – but find myself worrying over the grandkids. Likely because my kids are as relaxed with their kids as I was with them ?

    May you and your dear family be blessed with a happy, healthy and peace-filled 2018!

  13. Georgie says:

    I seem to come from a long line of worriers, however, for the most part I’ve managed to avoid all but the most catastrophic situations. My dad used to say about my Grandma, “she’d worry if she didn’t have something to worry about!” Happy worry-free New Year to you!! I enjoy your columns so much! Thanks!

  14. Jane says:

    Like the part of leaving the unfixable to God. I agree 100%.

  15. Carol Toothman says:

    I worry all the time. Just cannot stop myself. I think I worry about worrying. I sure wish I could stop..

  16. Jeri Duncan says:

    Bless you for a wonderful New Year’s column!! That’s a great New Year”s resolution ! We all need to worry less! Best New Year ever to you!!

  17. Connye Neal says:

    Happy New Year from Fort Smith Arkansas !! Again and always you speak to my heart .

  18. Cheryl says:

    One of my favorite sayings about worrying is this: “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere”. Happy New Year, Sharon!

  19. Jeannette Buck says:

    Oh, you have done it again. Somehow you manage to express my feelings exactly . Thank you for continuing to share your wonderful column.

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