My Grandma Johnson was a very strong woman in every sense of the word.
Deeply rooted in her faith, sturdy in physique, able to mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually take on just about anything that came her way, and not one to succumb to even the slightest cold.
(Seriously. I'm not sure if it was the Vicks salve she used each night before bed or the hymns she lifted up to Heaven with her sweet alto voice every day, but the woman never went to the hospital until the month before she died -- including through the healthy births of eleven children. You read correctly. Eleven.)
Part of that strength I remember so vividly was Grandma's stubbornness. Whether pursing her lips about the "healthier" 2% milk she did.not.order on her grocery list or turning off the TV when "filth came on" by yanking the plug from the wall, Grandma Johnson knew her mind, and was not shy about sharing her determinations.
[In case you're wondering, yes, I am her biological grandchild. Shocking, I know! :-) ]
One of the most precious memories I have of Grandma is her quick reassurance to anyone telling her not to worry about something, "I am not worried. The Bible says not to worry. I just have great concerns."
Ranking right up there with the "You are my sunshine" tune, regular sleepovers next door, picking blueberries in the summer, watching her beautiful hands make those delicious chicken and dumplings with eight decades of love, and her favorite saying of "God has an all-seeing eye and an all-hearing ear," I think I heard the "great concern" statement so often that even at a very young age, I was hiding grins at the idea of Grandma Johnson not worrying about this or that.
Grandma's point, of course, was that she didn't want to disobey God or His Word -- a compulsion so sincere and pure that just thinking about it makes me teary eyed as I type. But admitting she did still have the feeling behind worry was so sweet, and equally earnest.
When things bother me -- usually those pesky ones I can't do anything about, naturally -- I quickly realize why God instructed us in His Word not to worry.
I mean, yes, it's easy to do. Hard not to do, actually.
But man, it can eat away at you, can't it?
I guess everyone probably processes differently, but some days, when something big worries me, I get jittery, or start clenching my teeth, or can't keep my hands or mind busy enough. On really good days, I do all of those things.
Then on other days, I'm good for absolutely nothing, but in the opposite way. I could sleep all day -- all day! Grandma would have had a FIT! -- with no productivity, all over something I have absolutely no say-so in.
So even if most people process their troubles better than my extremes, how are any of us really of much use to anyone, especially God, if we do spend our time worrying? It's kind of hard for me to focus on something I need to do accurately, like fold clothes, if I am bothered that much. To take on tasks for others...well, that's nearly impossible.
So, I get where Grandma was going with her "great concerns." And some days, I'm right there with her. I definitely can't just let troubles drop off my radar and pretend they don't exist. But I can remember that I'm not the Pilot, but I am here for a reason, and if it's to be the best passenger I can be, then I certainly can't do that by obsessing about things I can't control.
Also, I can remind myself to breathe. Come to think of it, maybe that little secret was behind Grandma Johnson's ongoing relationship with her Vicks salve. :-)