Do Not Fret
Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers, for they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. … Commit your way to God, trust in God who will act. – Psalm 37:1-2 & 5 (NRSV)
A wise friend said to me, “A person who has a ‘good side’ for you to be on doesn’t really have a good side.”
Go ahead and read that again. I have to keep repeating it, myself.
As the survivor of two too many abusive relationships, my default approach in relating to others is a wary one. I’m hyper-aware of people’s motives, the ways people run hot and cold, their requirements (implicit and explicit) for treating me with kindness and reciprocity, their tools of manipulation, the triggers that spark their tantrums or their secrecy or their jealousy. By habit, I walk on eggshells to stay on someone’s good side.
I fret—not so much over the vague “wicked” who are distant from me—but over those nearby who could topple me in their storms. And as I fret, I jealously obsess over how much energy they require from me (or more accurately, how much energy I give to them) to maintain a delicate relationship with their good side.
To my friend’s point: Why?
Why pour time and energy and egg-shell-walking circus tricks onto blades of grass just to appease them until they fade? Why pace and fret and worry and tiptoe through life over those who will storm regardless of anyone’s pacing and fretting and worrying and tiptoeing? Why nurture the “good side” of herbs that are bitter?
Instead, nurture your way by setting it within God’s ways. Pour energy and time into a peace-full trust of God’s refuge. Guard your life, especially if you are in survival mode. Wait with delight on God, rather than waiting with anxiety on weeds.
Guard my time, O Love, that it might benefit your glory. Guard my energy, O Joy, that it might multiply your peace. Guard my faith, O Wisdom, that it might delight in your ways.
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and the co-author of Denial Is My Spiritual Practice, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.