The Ear-Worm Of Worry

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a song playing over and over in your head? Or perhaps throughout the day you hear yourself humming the same song continually. Yeah. Those little gems are called “ear-worms.” Those are the songs with melodies or riffs that do NOT leave your brain.

They first present themselves as “catchy little tunes” and you find yourself believing these innocent songs are really good. Good rhythm? Check. Good melody? Well, it is catchy so, check. Good lyrics? Not necessarily but check. By the 100th time its repeated itself you find yourself surrendering. It will eventually fade. You’ll eventually forget “One kiss is all it takes — Fallin’ in love with me — Possibilities — I look like all you need” or, “Hey, I just met you and this is crazy — But here’s my number, so call me maybe.” There…you are welcome ?. But when you wake up in the middle of the night and the songs have played like theme music to your dreams its all you can do to maintain sanity. There is no pause button. There is no mute. There is no forward button because forwarding to the end only makes it play again. You are caught in an ear-worm which simply needs to fade out over time or be replaced…with another ear worm.

I find worry is a lot like an ear-worm. In fact, I propose it IS an ear-worm. At first, we have a concern and it may be a valid one. And we ponder it, pray about it and think about solutions. It could be a situation of conflict with a friend that went south and we replay the scene over and over in order to figure out where exactly it all went wrong. It could be the loss of a job. Applying to a new job. It could be wanting to ask someone out on a date. There are positive ear-worms as well, like holding your baby for the first time or your first kiss. It could be words of encouragement. But I find its the worries riddled with anxiety that really stick the most. Those are the ones that haunt my dreams and wake me up. Those don’t give me energy they consume my energy. Then I begin to worry and that only amps up the power and enlarges what initially were simply concerns.

I begin to create a story board about where these concerns will lead. I think of the best and worst case scenario but, if I’m honest, the ones that take the lead lines are the ones with the worst endings. Will everything be ok? Will I be enough? Am I showing my strain to others and if so, how do I explain it without sharing what I am thinking about and going through? What do we do with these ear-worms of worry? How do we stop them from consuming us? I have found a couple of solutions:

First, actually talk them through out loud with another person you trust — one who will listen and not try to fix. One who understands these concerns don’t define you and are willing to simply take them as concerns. Then, if the sharing goes well, they can give feedback.

In fact, the second aspect is actually getting feedback. Play out the best and worst case scenarios with your confidante. When we bring our worries out into the light we often find them to be much smaller than we built up in our mind or even non-existent. Silly even.

Third, continue to bring them to Jesus in prayer…but then LEAVE THEM with Jesus in your prayer. In fact, here is where inserting another ear-worm could and should come into play. THIS ear-worm is actually helpful and gives hope. THIS ear-worm replaces the other with words of affirmation, care and clarity. Jesus said…

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Several aspects are interesting and this reflection is certainly not exhaustive of the text. First, Jesus offers you a rest. You can come to him and have a moment to exhale. Breath. Find your feet again. Take a moment. But then, he asks you to take HIS yoke upon you. WHAT? I want to offload weight not take more on! Look at what he offers. Your yoke was heavy laden and draining…Jesus’s yoke provides learning from him on how to balance the weight in a gentle way that won’t crush you and you’ll actually find rest for your soul in the midst of carrying on. His yoke is easy. Why is that? How can that be? It’s because we think we are in control and when we are not in control we begin to worry and carry around the weight of results knowing we can’t influence or change what will be. But Jesus is the Lord of the universe. He knows and wants what is best for you and HIS yoke is one of trust. Believe in Jesus that he will provide rest for your soul by being the one in control and giving you all you need for the future. His burden is light because his power + his love = only our good. Even in the middle of a storm we might leave damaged he will work that to our good. He has done that for me several times and I know he can and will do that for you as well…because he loves you.

I know its hard to imagine. You may be in the middle of something huge and life-changing at this very moment. Still Jesus calls out asking you to come to him for rest. He is trustworthy. He is mighty. And he cares for you. I don’t know HOW he will take your burden but his promise is clear. Not if but when. When you bring it to him to take care of. So before you is a choice: you can worry about things you cannot control and have this ear-worm of worry haunt you without mercy. OR, you can come to the one who offers mercy and rest and he can take control for you. He’ll give you rest. He’ll lighten your load. I pray you’ll release your burden to King Jesus and experience his peace today.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. – Colossians 1:15-20