Do you need to lighten up?
And I’m not talking about weight here.
I’m talking about attitude.
This is a recurrent theme in my life.
I try hard.
To get things right.
And sometimes I overdo it.
I lose perspective.
I miss what’s really important.
Recently I was remembering one particular time when my earnestness billowed up comically.
When my husband and I were awaiting the birth of our first child, I took seriously the advice that I interview pediatricians. I was convinced the doctor-patient relationship may prove significant in the years ahead.
And so, one very cold, windy December day about a month before my son arrived, I rolled my round self through the doors of a doctor’s office.
I was a vision, to be sure. Breathless from having climbed two flights of stairs, my shoulder-length blond hair was whipped around my head, and I struggled to free myself from my coat – a cherry-red, ankle-length woolen shroud that had once been my mother’s. Back in Philadelphia circa 1988 it had been striking, chic, and regal. On me – 8 months pregnant in 2002 – minus Mom’s 3-inch heels, manicured nails, and expertly coiffed hair – it was somewhat less fantastic. I resembled a squat strawberry past its peak.
Looks aside, I was on a mission.
I had my notes and my questions ready.
I was going to make sure my baby would have the best provider I could find.
When the doctor entered the room, I was slightly surprised that he was no more than 5 years older than me. But no matter. I proceeded through my questions about diet, weekly and monthly visits, developmental expectations, office hours, etc. and he answered dutifully, thoroughly, and patiently until I finally thought, “Good grief. He’s the professional. And I’m exhausted.”
Having crossed just about everything off my list, I looked up at him and asked, ”How am I doing?”
“Fine,” he said. “There are really just a few things we want to make sure all new parents know about.”
“Ok,” I said.
“First, is that we believe in immunizations.”
I felt my eyebrows shoot up and my body start to tremble.
“Umm…” he stammered, “There is a debate right now. And for some people this is an issue.”
I covered my mouth and then burst out laughing.
“Hahaha! I know! I know! Oh gosh! I’m so sorry! I was so uptight about this. About meeting you… I…I…forgot to ask about the most basic, essential things! You don’t have to convince me of this. I’m fine with immunizations.”
He looked relieved.
“Oh. Ok, great!”
“Another thing,” he continued, “Do you have a car seat?”
I laughed harder.
“For real!?! Yes!”
“Make sure it’s installed properly. Seriously. Do that and you’re golden. Everything else we’ll take as it comes.”
I beamed at him.
I deeply appreciated that doctor that day, and every day we’ve visited him since, because he has consistently focused on the NOW. Today’s right thing.
So here’s the rub…
Do you catastrophize?
Do you envision all the ways the future could go wrong before the next hour has even happened?
If so, lighten up.
Our biggest burdens are often the ones we put on ourselves. So toss your heaviest loads aside, look UP for guidance, and trust that you have – and will be given – the appropriate wisdom and strength required to handle whatever comes next.
All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.
(2 Chronicles 9:23)