Do You Have a Graduate Degree from the University of Anxiety?

November 20, 2023

As Thanksgiving fast approaches have you begun to worry. You may be thinking, “I have a graduate degree from the University of Anxiety. Will there be enough food? Will the turkey be dry? Will everyone get along with each other? Where will everyone sit? Who graduates to the adult table? Who must sit at the kids table?” Worriers of the world unite at the holidays over such questions, and everything usually works out just fine.

Regarding the things about which we fret 40% never happen, 30% regard unchangeable deeds of the past, 12% focus on the opinions of others that cannot be controlled, 10% center on personal health, which only worsens as we worry about it, 8% concern real problems that we can influence (taken from Jesus, Lord of Your Personality by Bob Russell, p. 41). This means 92% of our worries we can do nothing about.

It is a common problem we all face. Some may think they are not worriers, but that is only in comparison to others who seem to worry all the time, and, of course, feel the need to tell everyone about their worries. Jesus speaks to this common problem in Matthew 6:31-32, “Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’…your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I wish I could simply tell you not to worry because Jesus says not to, but even the most devout believers will continue to worry about their lives. I think this is because, like all the other creatures on the earth, we are limited by space, time and our bodies. We seek security and survival in a world that can be as brutal and threatening as it is beautiful.

Yet we are also created completely unique from the other creatures because we have wonderful minds that can dream and imagine. Through our minds, we can push the limits of our bodies. Though we are bound by the limits of our bodies, we can think beyond our limits. A perfect example is the fact that we are created without wings. But that no longer keeps us from flying.

I used to think that I didn’t worry much. I was comparing myself to professional worriers. The fact is, we all worry about something. We need to spend time examining our lives, so we know what things cause us to worry. For example, I have learned that I worry about looking good in public. It can change the way I do things. It can even cause me to forget about God and God’s desire to protect me.

Our minds can imagine a life without limits, but cannot take away those limits our bodies place on us, so we become anxious and worry. Sometimes we use that anxious energy constructively to improve our lives, like through jets, gliders, and “bungee” cords. More commonly we turn the worries of life into destructive energy. For example, worrying that the Thanksgiving feast may not be perfect (horror of horrors).

So how can Jesus command us not to worry when God has created us in a way that makes it easy to worry? The answer lies next to the command. We are to learn to trust in God, who feeds the birds and clothes the lilies. We are to stop seeking security, and worrying about the limits that we cannot change. We are to seek first the Kingdom of God. Seek what God is doing in the world, and listen for God’s will for our lives.

I can think of no other Christian discipline that can help us let go of our worries better than prayer. People speak of lifting their cares to Jesus, and to some this may sound trite, but once you have prayed, “I can’t handle this one alone. I am putting it in your hands, God,” there is no way to explain the release.

What do you worry about? Don’t think you are immune. Even if it is only a few things, everyone has their weak points of worry. Have you ever let go of those worries and turned them over to God? If so, what were the results? Are there any of those worries you just can’t let go of? If it sounds like it just won’t work then talk to someone who has a strong faith, and ask them if they have ever turned something over to God rather than worry. Chances are they will tell you they do so all the time. There is a good reason they have a strong faith! (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see,