You keep my eyelids from closing; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, and remember the years of long ago. I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit: Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has the Lord's steadfast love ceased forever? - Psalm 77:4-8
A few years ago, a youth group I traveled with played a version of "Would you rather?"
"Would you rather be a bald eagle or a grizzly bear?" "Would you rather eat only broccoli or only liver?" "Would you rather listen only to babies crying or only to the music of Justin Bieber?" Each question brought laughter and eager answers.
Then, "Would you rather regret the past or worry about the future?"
The whole car groaned. People who had cheerfully, if hypothetically, chosen a lifetime of liver or baby cries refused to choose either regret or worry. We moved on to the next question.
In real life it feels as if I don't choose either worry or regret—too often, alas, as with the psalmist, in the middle of the night they choose me. When regretful, I am also "troubled," thoughts spinning back over years, lamenting the actions never taken, the words hastily spoken. With worry, I also spin out, but this time over what is to come, what is unseen and unknown.
Regret and worry seem to choose me at first, but how do I respond? Invariably, I choose them back.
Like the psalmist, I let my mind circle around whatever unresolvable thing worry or regret has placed before me.
Maybe it's time to try something different. Maybe like the kids in the car, I can moan once, and then move on to the next question. Maybe then I will find that God's love hasn't ceased at all. Maybe then I will see the steadfastness of God's presence with me the whole time.
You are God, and I am not. To you be all the glory.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.