Forever, hula hooping and worry will be linked in my mind. The genesis of both happened on the same day, born within minutes of each other…. TWINS. I was maybe eight or nine years old. My entire family was spending Memorial Day weekend at my grandparents’ home on Lake Sinclair. Aunts, uncles, cousins were all there. It was my favorite way to spend a long weekend.
In middle Georgia, it was already hot and buggy by the start of June. So, we’d get up early to fish, go out in the boat to ski and ride around during the hottest part of the day. My grandmother always had a basket of fried cornbread pancakes and deep friend chicken and cornmeal crusted bacon for us to grab on the go throughout the day. Then, we’d sit out on the dock late into the night to fish again and I’d get to listen to the adults cutting up telling stories.
Not a worry on the world is how I’d describe these trips – completely carefree. One afternoon, my Aunt Mary decided to teach my cousin Marjorie and me how to hula-hoop. It was the 70s and Mary always dressed like a hippie. She had on her cut off jeans and halter top and was showing us how to swing our hips in just the right motion so that the hula hoop wouldn’t fall. It took me while, but eureka! I got it!
I ran inside to tell whomever I could find about my exciting new talent. There, in the family room, sat my great Aunt Jane all by herself. I exclaimed, “Aunt Jane, Aunt Jane, come out side. You’ve got to see me hula hoop.” In her south Georgia accent, she sweetly replied, “Honey, I can’t right now. I’m worrying.” And, immediately, hula hooping’s twin, Worry, was born.
In the years to come, I discovered that worry wasn’t simply an emotional state. It was more of an activity, a sport of sort. One in which nearly all the women (and some of the men) in my family, participated, regularly. It was as if they worried enough, they could worry the problem away. Even though worrying was time consuming, exhausting and frustrating, the people I love most allowed worry to worm its way into the fabric of their lives.
Now, as an adult, I work hard to not worry. I’m not saying that I never worry. I have 3 teen/young adult children, so worrying comes with the territory. But when I find myself obsessively fretting over a situation, I remind myself that repeatedly the Bible says “Do not fear,” “Do not be anxious.” I believe God is telling us that our fears and anxieties rob us of time, of possibility, of hope, of joy.
God created us with vast ability and resilience. Instead of worrying, ask, “Is this worth worrying about?” Sometimes, we fret over the most trivial matters. If it is a true concern, try putting the worry energy into action. Pray for God to help find a solution. If no solution exists, then find a way to make peace with it. Remember, the difficult times in life are sacred, precious and transformative. For me, when life overwhelms, I remind myself that God never said it will be easy. Instead, God promises it will be worth it.
Reverend Mace Hall