Every weekday I make my way to the basement of the hospital. I smile at all my new nurse friends and wait to be called back for my treatment. Once called, I walk into a room with a table and a huge machine at the head of the table. There is a custom-made mold that I lay down into and then two techs carefully position my body so all the dots on my body line up with the lasers of the machine. We're talking sub-millimeter precision.
Then I sit perfectly still. My legs are strapped together, and there is no moving at all.
As I stare at the ceiling waiting for the machine to turn on, my mind may be wandering.
Then it hits!
It starts small, barely noticeable. Then it builds, like a cartoon snowball rolling into a house-sized boulder! Its insatiable appetite cannot be satisfied. It becomes excruciating, consuming every thought I have to try and control it, all to no avail.
What is this powerful force that puts me into such agony?
An itch. A stupid, tiny, insurmountable itch. Sometimes on my nose, or my cheek, maybe my stomach or even a toe, but always there taunting me.
It knows I can't move and it has no mercy on my soul!
This itch can be a lot like worry. It starts small, almost unnoticeable. Just like I can't move to scratch the itch, most often our worries are about things we cannot control. Before too long, it builds and the more I try not to think about it, the worse it becomes until it becomes all-consuming!
Just writing about this I am itching all over!
So what's a guy to do about itches and worries?
1. Don't not think about - No matter how hard you try to "not think about it", you can't. Just simply trying to block it out of your mind will cause it to fester into a full-fledged concentration monster. It will overtake you simply by existing.
2. Accept your reality - During radiation I can't move. That's non-negotiable. There are many things in our lives that are out of our control. We worry because it may affect us or some one we love. However, we can't be the hero that saves everyone from everything. Sometimes things are out of our control and nothing we do can change that. Scratching the itch is not an option and many times removing the source of worry is also not possible.
3. Think of something lovely -
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Instead of just "not thinking about it", think about something else. In order to take thoughts captive I often have to redirect my thinking. As I lay on that table a similar memory comes into my mind as I do my desperate battle against the itch.
It's my grandmother singing the hymn, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Whatever situation you're facing, whatever your worry is, it is nothing in comparison to the riches we have awaiting us. We can't control when an itch comes, or when a worrisome thought arises. We can control how we respond to it. Are we going to take that thought captive? Will we let it grow and transform into a giant monster? The choice and the power to choose are ours.