The Rust Upon The Blade

August 1, 2010

“It is not work that kills men; it is worry. Worry is the rust upon the blade.” Henry Ward Beecher

How much time do you spend worrying? I know I spend a lot of time worrying about all kinds of things. Some days, it seems like there is no irritation too minor, and no problem too big, for me to worry about. In the past, I have told myself that thinking about issues helps me be prepared. I have come to realize that thinking about issues, in the sense of preparing a plan of action to address a situation, is a far cry from worrying about an issue, and what I have been doing is nothing more than worrying. “What if…” “What will I do…” What can I do…” Thoughts that start with these and similar phrases are nothing more than fear manifesting itself. These thoughts are the beginning of a downward slide from concern to a conviction of total disaster waiting around the corner. Basically, worry is fear stealing our time and our present, reflecting our feelings of powerlessness.
“I have spent most of my life worrying about things that never happened.” Mark Twain
I realize that, in the past, I have convinced myself that, by worrying about something, I somehow prevented it from happening. It’s far more likely that I simply wasted the moments I spent worrying, and missed opportunities for joy, enlightenment, or success. How do we handle worry? It’s easy to say just stop worrying. I think it’s better to face the issue, and think or write it out: “What’s the problem or concern?” ” What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen related to that problem?”  “What would you do if it happened?” and finally “Can you live with it?” I am far from being an expert at this technique, but I have found that, in situations when I have calmed down and actually applied this method, it helped me to put my problem, concern, or choice into perspective, and helped me realize that I can handle things, and I don’t have to fear them. It is certainly much more effective to spend a few minutes or an hour looking at the matter objectively, than to spend hours or days stewing in futility, wasting time that could be better spent so many other ways.  Just as rust dulls the edge of a knife, worry dulls our mental capacity to think clearly and to solve problems.  It is up to us to bring ourselves back to clear thinking and positive action.

“Worry often gives small things a big shadow.” Swedish Proverb


2 Responses to “The Rust Upon The Blade”

  1. Lynne Keane said

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I too can spend too much time with worry, and Sunday night is very much one of those times; what will happen tomorrow or this week?

    Sunday is a day to glorify God, rest and prepare for the week ahead; not a day to start fretting of the “what ifs”. Your timing is perfect.

    Thank you,

  2. Ed said

    I should start receiving your site update notices.

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