I can tell you beforehand that after ten years’ study—if so long were necessary—you will fail to find one good thing in favor of worry, and that every item you will enumerate will be against it. Hence, why worry? Quit it!
Worry, like all evils, feeds on itself, and grows greater by its own exercise. Did it decline when exercised, diminish when allowed a free course, one might let it alone, even encourage it, in order that it might the sooner be dead. But, unfortunately, it works the other way. The more one worries the more he continues to worry. The more he yields to it the greater becomes its power. It is a species of hypnotism: once allow it to control, each new exercise diminishes the victim’s power of resistance.
Never was monster more cruel, more relentless, more certain to hang on to the bitter end than worry. He shows no mercy, has not the slightest spark of relenting or yielding. And his power is all the greater because it is so subtle. He wants you to be “careful”—taking good care, however, not to let you know that he means to make you full of care. He pleads “love” as the cause for his existence. He would have you love your child, hence “worry” about him. He thus trades on your affection to blind you to your child’s best interests by “worrying” about him. For when worry besets you, is harassing you on every hand, how can you possibly devote your wisdom, your highest intelligence to safeguarding the welfare of the one you love.
Never was a slave in the South, though in the hands of a Legree, more to be pitied than the slave of worry. He dogs every footstep, is vigilant every moment. He never sleeps, never tires, never relaxes, never releases his hold so long as it is possible for him to retain it. When you seek to awaken people to the terror, the danger, the hourly harm their slavery to worry is bringing to them, they are so completely in worry’s power that they weakly respond: “But I can’t help it.” And they verily believe they can’t; that their bondage is a natural thing; a state “ordained from the foundation of the world,” altogether ignoring the frightful reflection such a belief is upon the goodness of God and his fatherly care for his children. Natural! It is the most unnatural thing in existence. Do the birds worry? The beasts of the field? The clouds? The winds? The sun, moon, stars, and comets? The trees? The flowers? The rain-drops? How Bryant rebukes the worrier in his wonderful poem “To a Water Fowl,” and Celia Thaxter in her “Sandpiper.” The former sings of the fowl winging its solitary way where “rocking billows rise and sink on the chafed ocean-side,” yet though “lone wandering” it is not lost. And from its protection he deduces the lesson:
He who, from zone
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone
Will lead my steps aright.