Alfred E. Neuman of Mad Magazine fame is often depicted with his freckled face scrunched up and posing his question-like riddle, “What, me worry?” Alfred caricaturizes something we all do occasionally—worry—allowing our minds to excessively dwell on difficulties or troubles.
Left unresolved, our worries can become like pesky mosquitos buzzing around our heads. Faced with a swarm, we can either allow the pests to continue irritating us, or we can swat them away. But unlike mosquitos, how do we swat away worries when we can’t physically touch them?
Usually when I’m worried, I’m stuck in my head. I’m trying to solve life’s problems on my own, intellectually. It’s like I give God a shove and tell him, “Out of the way. I’ve got this one.”
And eventually when the swarm of anxious thoughts fails to go away, I hear a gentle nudge from God prompting, “How’s that working out for you?” “Not very well,” I admit as God reminds me, “I’m here for you. I want to guide and love you.” In those moments, I realize how to get rid of those pesky worries is turn to the Creator and ask for his wisdom and guidance.
Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. Wisdom differs from intellect. Intellect relies solely upon thinking—mind power. Wisdom encompasses mind power, but it goes beyond the mind, tapping into our hearts and souls with Divine Insight. John of the Cross calls wisdom “infused knowledge.”
Wisdom is a gift from God. It’s not something we can earn or grasp. But it’s something we can ask for and seek.
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God for it, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
In the Christian tradition, wisdom is said to come from the Holy Spirit. It’s the indwelling presence of Divine Knowledge that God has placed within our hearts and souls. We tap into that source of Divine Inspiration by pausing, becoming quiet, and listening with our hearts.
The other day, I was filled with worry—concerns about my imperfections and how I always feel like I have to be fighting something or someone, especially myself. An anxious swarm of judgment and self-doubt circled my thoughts for several days.
As I sat in quiet reflection one morning, it dawned on me—I was stuck in my head again. I’d done another shove to God and let my inner critic take over. I wasn’t asking, listening, or hearing what God had to say. So, I paused and said to God, “What are you trying to teach me? How are you inviting me to grow in the midst of this pesky battle going on inside my head?”
What silently rose up in my heart was this response. “I love you. You’re fine just the way you are. Can you accept your imperfections and stop fighting yourself? Can you relax and be patient with yourself and the world?”
The buzzing in my head stopped. My mind became quiet, sinking into my heart. I realized, I’m safe. I’m good. I need not fight myself and the world. I simply need to let God love me so I can love others.
Mary, the Blessed Mother, provides an example on how we’re invited to seek God’s wisdom as a response to worry. When she discovered she was a pregnant teenager, she asked God, “How can this be?” She then listened, pondered all these things in her heart, and agreed to let God guide her.
Now, we’re the rest of the story. Like Mary, we’ve been gifted with the innate ability to seek Divine Knowledge in our hearts and let the Creator’s natural wisdom calm us.
The next time you notice worries buzzing around your head, pause for a moment, take some deep breaths, and ask for Wisdom. Ask the Creator for Divine Insight and Understanding so together you might resolve your worry.
Maybe the answer to Alfred’s riddle, “What, me worry?” is simply this— “Nope. I’ve discovered the antidote for worry—Seeking Wisdom.”
—brian j plachta