Ann Spangler

Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer and speaker.

What If?

a person walking on a city street casts a very tall shadow

Besides adding joy to one’s life, children can add plenty of anxiety. When you love a person, especially someone as vulnerable as a child, you can begin to feel a lot more fear.

I was voicing my own fears recently when a good friend opened his heart, telling me not to waste my energy. He went on to say that he had spent years worrying about one of his two sons.

“Max,” he said, “was always my greatest concern. When he was five, he tested positive for a rare disorder that could eventually debilitate him. The doctors told my wife and me he would probably start showing symptoms by the time he was a teenager, maybe sooner. I was so afraid for him that I couldn’t sleep at night, worrying about what to do.

“But I never thought twice about Josh. He had always been so healthy. He was smart, well-liked, funny. I knew he was going to be successful in whatever he did. Then, suddenly, his life went into a tailspin during his senior year in high school. We found out that he suffers from bipolar disorder. Sadly my fun-loving, capable kid has vanished. Josh’s case is so severe that he has been in and out of psych wards for the last several years and he can’t hold down a job.

“The odd thing is that all those sleepless nights spent worrying about Max were completely off track. It’s been twenty years since we heard about the likelihood of his developing that disorder, but he hasn’t exhibited a single symptom, and the doctors now say he probably won’t.”

My friend’s point, of course, is that worrying about what might happen is a waste of precious energy because it means we are preparing for eventualities that will probably never materialize. As Mark Twain once quipped, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Or as a Swedish proverb puts it: “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” If your life is overshadowed right now by anxiety, ask God to bring you out of that shadow and into the light of his presence, enabling you to trust him for whatever is troubling you.


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