When Worry Wrecks Us: Having the Courage to Let Control Go

By Bethany McDonald

God's Brave Women - Bethany's Story


When I think of bravery and myself, I don’t really come up with much.


The last time I had to kill a gigantic cockroach while my husband was at work, maybe? The time something curled up and died in our splash pad and it came down to me to remove the smelly carcass? Gross, yes. Brave, no.


Bravery, to me, especially in light of the recent 20th anniversary of 9/11, sounds like the heroes of Flight 93, or the first responders, firemen, and policemen who risked their lives to save others. Not Bethany, a stay at home mom in southeastern Virginia, just trying to make it to bed time without losing her mind.


The opposite of bravery—fear—is what I feel most of the time. Not to brag, but I’m really great at worrying. It’s what I do. I justify it by saying that it helps me be prepared for every situation, that I feel better when I just have a plan.


A prime example of this took place last week, the night before my oldest was to attend her first day of kindergarten. I was sitting on the edge of the bed, my body cold and clammy, the literal embodiment of the words “nervous wreck.” I was regaling my husband with all the reasons I was anxious for our daughter to start public school in the midst of a global pandemic. After a pause in my tirade, I hit him with the classic, “What are you thinking about?” With concern edging his voice, he replied, “I’m thinking about how you’re so stressed and afraid.”


Record scratch.


My poisonous worries had spread from me and had started to infect my husband. If left unchecked, who else would they spread to? I realized that I had to make a choice: fear or bravery.


 

"My poisonous worries had spread from me and had started to infect my husband. If left unchecked, who else would they spread to? I realized that I had to make a choice: fear or bravery."

 

“Why is this happening, Lord?” No answer.

“When will this end?” No answer.

“I am so, so tired, Lord.” No answer.

“Is it because I’ve done something wrong?” No answer.


There have been countless times in my life when I have inundated God’s ears with these questions. I’ve whispered them while I’m doing the dishes. I’ve screamed them internally when I’m lying in bed. I’ve yelled them out loud when I’m alone in the car. Finally, when I am angry, bitter, and hurt, exhausted from trying to figure out “the plan” or from trying to force square pegs into round holes, I say to God—the Lord of everything, the One who made me and the One who understands me better than I understand myself—“Fine. If you won’t talk to me, I won’t talk to you. I’ll do this myself.”


Isn’t that what the world often tells us is bravery? Relying on ourselves? Being that strong, capable woman who doesn’t need anyone else?


 

"Isn’t that what the world often tells us is bravery? Relying on ourselves? Being that strong, capable woman who doesn’t need anyone else?"

 

“I’m doing this on my OWN,” I declare, happily careening down the crooked path I have told myself will not lead to disaster. “Me, myself, and I! I am strong, I am brave, and I am CAPABLE. Square peg? Get ready to fit in that round hole, honey. I feel great. Let’s listen to the Wonder Woman soundtrack.”


And maybe at first, it works. But, inevitably, I end up where I was the night before the start of kindergarten—a sweaty lump of anxiety, trying to control a situation I am hopelessly incapable of controlling, instead of trusting the only One who is completely trustworthy, the One who is in control of everything.


So I peeled my sweaty self off the bed. I went and brushed my teeth. I moisturized. I walked back into our bedroom. I said a silent prayer. And I chose bravery. “You know what,” I said slowly to my husband. He lifted his eyebrows expectantly. “I’m okay. She has the Holy Spirit with and within her. And that’s even better than if I were to go to school and hold her hand all day long.”


I am not being brave when I give God the silent treatment or when I do life on my own. Bravery is when I prayerfully accept where I am, right now, no matter how stressful or frustrating or monotonous.


It’s trusting that God hasn’t forgotten me, that I am not alone, even though I’m going through a time of “no answer.”


 

"I am not being brave when I give God the silent treatment or when I do life on my own. Bravery is when I prayerfully accept where I am, right now, no matter how stressful or frustrating or monotonous. It’s trusting that God hasn’t forgotten me, that I am not alone, even though I’m going through a time of “no answer.”

 

It’s letting go when I don’t know what is going to happen—with myself, with my spouse, with my children, with this pandemic, with this school year. It’s saying to Jesus along with that father in the Gospel of Mark, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!


If I am in it, he has asked me to be in it. If he has asked me to be in it, he will give me what is required. And when I remember the pain and suffering that Jesus went through because of his love for me, how can I not do what he asks?


 

"If I am in it, he has asked me to be in it. If he has asked me to be in it, he will give me what is required. And when I remember the pain and suffering that Jesus went through because of his love for me, how can I not do what he asks?

 

God will not withhold bravery from me. It is mine for the asking. It might not be a deluge—it might just be a trickle. But it will be enough. Enough to keep me there, by his side, trusting in him for more.


 

Have you entered the Brave Women Series Giveaway yet? You could win over $450 in gift cards and prizes!


If you're new to the Brave Women Series, WELCOME! Every week I pray God uses these stories to touch the women whose spirits need to read them. I have been hosting this series for almost three years (to the date), and no story has ever been the same. Each women's journey toward courage with God is beautifully different, and I am honored to be able to share a space for them to highlight God's faithfulness in their lives.


So we want to celebrate! Enter the Brave Women Series Giveaway today for a chance to win 1 of two incredible prizes:


Winner 1: $225 Gift card of your choice (yep, you read that right!)


Winner 2: Brave Women Bundle valued at $250+ including:


* Brave Mug from Becky Beresford’s Brave Women Boutique

* Hello Fall Candle by Sweet Water Decor

* The Hard Good by Lisa Whittle

* Gentle and Lowly by Dane C. Ortlund

* Walk Run Soar by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young

* Refreshed by Becky Baxter

* Matters of the Heart by Carlie Kercheval

* Made for Hope by Sara Ward

* Sweeter Than Honey by Patsy Burnette

* My Heart's Garden by Charity Rios

* Desert Song by Brittnie Blackburn

* Shaping the Soul by Jennie Denney

* The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner + Bonus Postcard Set

* Earrings by Sew Texan Goods

* Handmade Leather Wrap Bracelet by YGLINE

* Office Accessories Goodie Bag (including: heart tote, office accessory kit, rainbow stickers, floral notebook, magnetic list pad, cute pencils & more)

* $20 Target Card


We will be doing a giveaway every month until the end of the year, but this month's giveaway ends Friday night! Enter today, BRAVE friends! We can't wait to bless you.


 

About Bethany


Bethany McDonald was born and raised in Kentucky, but has made her home in and around Virginia Beach since marrying her husband, Seth, 11 years ago. She is a stay at home mom to two daughters, the eldest of which just had a great first week of kindergarten. She’s been writing for a long time, but only recently started showing it to people. Her writing and thoughts on marriage and motherhood have been featured on Love What Matters and the Confident Conversations with Homemakers podcast. In her nonexistent free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and running.


Connect with Bethany on Instagram or Facebook.