I’m a worrier. And according to a recent study in Finland, I’m lucky I ever found a partner at all. In finding the love of my life, I apparently won something akin to the odds of a mega-million dollar lottery, since the study says that worrying makes you far less attractive to the opposite sex.
So if you’re a single worrier, now you can add to your list of anxieties that you’ll spend your life fretting alone. And for those of us who have a partner, we can start agonizing that our partner will look for a face with fewer worry lines and more laughter lines.
Me? I married a man who makes me laugh every day. Yes, his sense of humor was one of the things that made me fall in love with him. But it wasn’t the only thing. And, thankfully for me, he saw past the furrows in my forehead and fell in love with the whole person behind the worry lines.
This study is just another reason I believe that the exactness of science and the intangibility of faith can’t be separated from each other. Cling to one, and we end up trying to make every aspect of life fit the rules we understand. Cling to the other, and we are blown about by the winds of changing emotions.
On vacation this week, my husband and I have walked on the beach and along the sound, enjoying watching the animal families that live in the moment as we humans are never quite able to do. On our first day on the beach, we marveled at the largest school of dolphins we’ve seen in all the years we’ve come to the Outer Banks. We watched, mesmerized each time another dolphin rose in a graceful arc out of the water before disappearing again. At the end of the school was a family of three, a smaller baby in the middle and two larger dolphins on either side, trading places, making a graceful braided ribbon as they swam back and forth around the baby.
Then yesterday at sunset, we strolled to the sound to get pictures of the sunset. We arrived at feeding time and spent an hour watching a mama and papa osprey care for their chicks in the nest. The mother stood guard, her head turning this way and that, alert for anything that might signal danger. The father spread his wings majestically and glided back and forth over the water, then suddenly dove in with a small splash and came up with his prey. When he flew back to the nest, two small heads rose up as he laid his offering at the mother’s feet and flew off again while she fed bits of the capture to their babies.
As my husband was snapping pictures with his Nikon, I turned to see a mama duck with nine baby chicks swimming around her. I watched as she kept them close, circling them when they dared swim too far from her. And when three of them went in different directions, I laughed as she expertly nudged each one back into place, wondering how she could possibly keep track of all of them.
My mind drifted back to the birds this morning when I watched a segment on the Today Show about the Finnish study on worry. It occurred to me that not once in those hours that I had watched those animal families had I dwelled on my worries about my own loved ones. And though danger was all around the animals, they lived in the moment, providing for the needs of the weakest among them.
And it occurred to me that science confirms for us over and over again what my faith has been telling us for thousands of years. I thought again of that story of Jesus, telling the multitude that has gathered to hear his wisdom about what the animals have to teach us:
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? (Matthew 6: 25-27)
If I read that story literally, I’d never plan for the future. But if I read it remembering to balance the past and the future by living fully in the present, then perhaps I’ll be less anxious about what I can’t really control.
So today I’m thankful that my husband defied the laws of science and had faith in me in spite of my worry wrinkles. And I’m grateful for reminders to laugh and love and live in the present.
What about you? What reminds you to revel in the here and now?