Fret Not

I appreciate people caring to know about my life, yet I find it difficult to answer, “How are you?” It seems like such a big question. How do I know what someone is really asking? Is the question really an extended form of a greeting? Is it their go-to question when talking with others, and that is why they ask? Is it a good time for a four-letter response like “fine,” “okay,” or “good?” May I draw again and see if I get a different question? Or is it an invitation to drop a bucket into the well of my soul, draw to the surface what comes from its depths, and share that with another?

When someone asks me a question, I feel I have been given a dear gift. It is an honor to be asked. Asking and answering questions is one of my love languages. It should be added to the official list! So I want to be a good steward of the questions others care to ask me.

I appreciate this question: “What has God been doing in your life lately?” How good to have a reason to shuffle through the accumulated clutter heaped on my heart and look for signs of God at work. When this happens, I often notice things going on in my life that are covered with the fingerprints of God.

What God has been doing in my life lately is addressing my tendency to fret. Fretting is a synonym for worrying. I believe I am not supposed to worry, so I worry about worrying. I can’t bring myself to call a case of distracting, consuming, wearing, or agonizing ruminations “worry.” So I fret.

Sometimes I see fretting as a form of caring. I wouldn’t fret about something that didn’t matter to me, would I?

Yet I have never known fretting to improve a situation, solve a problem, or restore a relationship.

When I fret, something eats away at me. (Interestingly, the root meaning of “fret” refers to eating, especially to the gnawing of small animals.) Lately, God has interrupted my fretting.

God is making it clear to me that He responds to my prayers… not to my fretting. So I might as well pray instead.

What a difference this makes! Here’s what happens: I notice rumbling and mumbling in the background of my thoughts, and suddenly I realize I am fretting. I stop. I name the concern before God—trusting that He already knows and truly cares. I remember that He has the wisdom to know what needs doing, and He has the means to do it. I entrust the concern to Him.

My focus has shifted to God. This smaller thing, this fret, was so close to me that it eclipsed the goodness, faithfulness, nearness, beauty, and truth of God. Now it has moved over, and God shines in me, on me. I move from fretting to praying to trusting to… peace.

This process is nothing new. Paul instructed the Philippians: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

What a great trade! Through prayer, I give Him my fretting and He gives me his peace. Praise Him.

What has God been doing in your life lately? Do you fret? Will you pray?

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