I don’t have herpes.
I know you didn’t ask me, but I thought I should tell you, anyway. People always ask. They don’t ask because of my recreational proclivities, or because of the company I keep. They ask because of the canker sores I routinely get on my lip. It’s not herpes, but it is an ugly outbreak, of sorts. It’s stress.
According to my high school PE class (which I took by mail), there are two kinds of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress is positive stress. It motivates, excites, and focuses. Eustress is short-term, and within an individual’s coping ability. Conversely, distress is negative stress. It causes anxiety, and feels too big to handle. It can create physical and psychological problems.
When I have too much distress in my life, I get canker sores. The frequency of the sores tells you a lot about how often I feel distressed. Where does all the distress come from? Anxiety. I worry about: finding the right job, finding any job, paying bills, cutting bills, which financial site to use to pay and cut bills, security on the financial site, to do lists, relationships, my truck, my dog’s eye ball, and whether or not my own eye is developing a freak corneal abrasion because some tap water got in my contact lens case.
Those are just the things I’ve thought about in the past forty-five minutes. Hence, the canker sores. Hence, the herp questions.
But I don’t have herpes. The truth is, I don’t even have much to worry about. My life is great! What I do have is misplaced faith. In the Old Testament, God told the world what happens when people trust in the wrong things:
Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. (Jeremiah 17:5-6)
Sounds like me. ”He will not see prosperity when it comes.” I’m so blessed, but I don’t even notice. I’m too busy isolating myself and withering. Bummer. Fortunately, there’s hope for people like me. Hope doesn’t come in the form of a productivity system or a government or a diet or a workout regimen. It has nothing to do with me or my accomplishments:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
Wow. That sounds way better. That’s what I want. I want to be an oak tree by a river. Strong and fruitful. Always.
My New Year’s resolution is to absorb all of the life-giving water that God is so eager to give me. I want to be an oak tree.