In the last two weeks, two of my closest family members have faced health crises that have sent me into an emotional tailspin. I’ve defaulted to my specialty – worry – and it has not served me well. Can you relate?
I wake up again and again in the night, my mind a dark labyrinth of thoughts spinning and clashing out of control. Fear lurks like a thick fog over my bed. Each time, I pray: for a positive outcome to whatever medical procedure looms next, for complete healing of mind and body, for confidence and courage. Then I find soft comfort as I drift back to sleep, only to wake again a short time later, my mind in overdrive once more.
Those who know me well would concede that I have a vivid imagination and if that isn’t enough, there’s the matter of a career spent exposed to crime and cruelty. Defaulting to the worst case scenario in my head is either a function of all that – or it’s just a habit I’ve let myself fall into.
A few nights ago when I woke up, I asked God to sanctify my imagination and give me a helpful image I could focus on. Something that would remind me of truth in a way I could hold on to and free me from this exhausting cycle.
In that liminal state between sleeping and waking, I pictured myself in a transit station of some kind. Bus, train, hard to say. I was sitting uncomfortably in one of those molded plastic chairs with the metal legs and I was holding a package – addressed to me – in my lap.
And I was so embarrassed. Not only was the package heavy and dirty, it was leaking some kind of sticky liquid and giving off an offensive odor.
Then Jesus came and sat down in the chair next to me. Yes, Jesus. I can’t tell you how I recognized Him; I just knew it was Him.
He didn’t seem offended by the foul-smelling package. In fact, He asked if He could have it. I was mortified and said, “Oh no, this is something I ordered. It’s damaged and disgusting, but I still need to keep it.”
He didn’t try to take it from me. He just gently asked, “What’s in it?”
“My worries,” I said, my face hot with shame. “I worry about the future, I worry about my loved ones, and I worry that my prayers won’t be answered because I don’t have enough faith. Tonight I’m worried about what’s going to happen tomorrow: What if I lose this person I love so much? So I’m praying and worrying, but mostly worrying. And this box keeps getting heavier.
“I’ve tried to put it down but it leaks even more when I do, so I pick it back up and try to contain it. Nothing I do seems to work.” I knew I sounded ridiculous.
That’s when I looked down at my lap and noticed the original label had been overlaid with a yellow sticker; on it, a forwarding address that simply said, “Jesus”.
Confused, I looked at Him and He kindly said. “I’ll take it for you, if you like. I’ve already paid for it; you don’t have to keep carrying it around.”
I slid the box – the leaky, smelly, burdensome box – off my lap and on to His, then leaned against his shoulder and fell peacefully asleep.
What would be inside the box for you?
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