Winter came early and brought with it a terrific storm before the tree shed its colorful autumn leaves. I watched the old oak tree in front my home bend its leafy arms to the ground.winter tree

The branches experienced unbelievable weight that threatened to snap them and bring them to the ground. The oak tree had not been prepared for the snow and ice, because it still held onto its autumn leaves. It clung to one season a bit too long, and the next season sneaked up on it with force.

Have you ever felt this way?

Mountains of worries, obligations, and stress pull you down like a winter tree bearing too much ice and snow. For me, that mountain is worry, and it often prevents me from enjoying the season I live in because I am consumed with thinking about the next season.

In fact, “Worrywart” should have been my middle name. Even before the age of ten, my brain was wracked with numerous anxieties. My childhood was defined by weight worries, fitting-in-with-the-crowd worries, and school worries.

At nine I started subscribing to Weight Watchers magazine and exercising to Richard Simmons workout tapes because I couldn’t shake the worry of how I might look in a swimsuit come summer.

Forget peer pressure. My inner pressure convinced me to make all A’s in school, in college and in life.

My worry weight took a toll on my friendships and my health. I was so busy fretting about things that I did not know how to let one season go before stepping into another. I carried more than one season, more than one worry with me.

This behavior continued throughout my thirties when I put pressure on myself to be the best at everything—career, relationships, exercise, volunteering. I felt the need to control every piece of my life while clinging to past worries and still worrying about the future.

One week after my 40th birthday, I crashed. My tree fell to the ground. A serious illness forced me to physically stop. It was not an option. My body forced me to rest for almost a month. In bed or on the couch, the 24-hour-a-day kind of rest.

Meanwhile, the season of fall ended as winter began, and I watched the trees in my yard yield to the colder temperatures. This time, the old oak tree shed its leaves before freezing rain and snow drifts accumulated on its branches. It stood tall as the storm hit, able to bend and sway with the wintry gusts without snapping and falling.

Maybe that tree was planted in my line of sight to teach me something. I can only hold on to one thing at a time. One task, one responsibility, one obligation.

To be healthy both in mind, spirit, and body, I had to learn to focus on one thing at a time.

This was not easy. I still worried, but I remembered that oak tree and how it prepared for each season and endured.

Maybe, just maybe, I could let go of my anxieties, place them in my Creator’s care, and focus on getting over my illness. So I rested. Then I ate. Then I rested some more.

Within 30 days of nearly succumbing to pneumonia, I was restored. My tree had survived one season and was ready for the next.

©2014 Shanna Groves, Volunteer at GateWay of Hope – The Helping Place for Hurting Women