Notes from Jan

What’s Wrong? You Look Worried.

November 14, 2023

Blame it on my face. Apparently, it gives off signals that something’s wrong. My kids call it my “bum face.” Once, after being identified with such, I hurried to the closest mirror to check my expression. Well, reflecting back were furrowed lines, squinting eyes and a slit in my face where lips should be. So, I reluctantly confessed, my face looked like something was wrong. Really wrong. In my limited defense, I think it’s how I look while trying to listen, to think before responding or reacting. You know, show some empathy when my penchant is to fix things(or them), cheer ’em up or change the subject.

Well, if the mirror’s reliable, my face often looks like something’s amiss. And recent visits to dentists and doctors underscore I “ain’t what I used to be.” Take today, for example, a dermatologist zapped two spots she thought could be pre-cancerous. Good to be forewarned. Zap away.

Afterwards. I went to Walgreen’s to get another Covid booster and RSV shot, whatever that is. Get it over with. When I asked the pharmacist( picture my worried face )if it is OK to get both shots at once, he said, “Well, we’ve done several combos today and it wasn’t a problem, so far as I know. But then everybody is different.” Oh dear, those weren’t reassuring words. But I took a shot in each arm, while praying and hoping I wasn’t an anomaly.

Since the topic’s about worry and what’s wrong, I’m happy to report nothing went wrong yesterday when I spoke in chapel at Gordon College. Returning to the place we called home for about 35 years felt good. And I didn’t cough, which worried me beforehand. You know, when you get a tickle in your throat and suddenly you’re barking like a seal, alerting EMTs within the audience and beyond. Well, back to chapel, where we sang Sunday School songs, which nudged me to share one of my songs.

“Cheer up, ye saints of God, there’s nothing to worry about. Nothing to make you feel afraid. Nothing to make you doubt. Remember, Jesus loves you, so why not be happy and SHOUT! You’ll be sorry you worried at all tomorrow morning.”

Well, that worked when I was a kid. But I’m 83 now and I know there’s a lot to worry about. And plenty to fear and doubt in this world. Which is part of why I take comfort from the Psalms and other parts of the Bible where people talk to God and each other honestly about what’s wrong. And God listens and doesn’t seem to panic.

So yesterday, after chapel, I ate with a group of students in Lane Dining Hall. It was good to be there. One of the students, a senior, asked if I had any advice about how to deal with worries she has about her future. Well, I furrowed my brow, squinted my eyes and empathized. It can be scarey to look ahead, especially when family and others start pressing, ‘So, what are you planning to do after graduation?’ “

Then I suggested, “Try to appreciate today. Be present in your classes, your relationships. It’s easy to let fear and worry about tomorrow rob us of today’s gifts.”

Well, it sounded like good advice to me.

Now, I just need to heed it.

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  • Reply Julie Mozena November 14, 2023 at 9:28 pm

    Hi Jan – thank you for this. I’ve started worrying about something in the near future, and this is a wonderful reminder to “be present.” Sending you love!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 15, 2023 at 7:42 am

      And sending hugs across the country to you, dear Julie. Can hardly wait to see you at Christmas. We’ll breakfast at Comforts and hunt cardamom in some form or another. Happy to read you got a dose of encouragement from this blog.

  • Reply dale November 15, 2023 at 7:21 am

    “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 A command with a promise which is a common way, I believe, the Lord guides us. I read it every day and now, as you say, need to heed it every day. Thanks, Jan, for the reminder that it is the radiance of Christ and not our inner fears which will reflect best the love of Christ to others. Blessings, dear friend – Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 15, 2023 at 7:48 am

      Thanks, friend Dale, for sharing this Bible verse. At this time of year, I especially appreciate the reminder to pray “with Thanksgiving.” The tough part is the daily-ness of heeding “be anxious for nothing.” You and I know that, in the long run, “we worry for nothing.”

  • Reply shelly moran November 15, 2023 at 7:24 am

    You are a gem… Was going to tell you this morning when I was on zoom with you that I had 3 shots at once and I’m fine… or so I think.
    You made my morning, sitting here with my coffee. I sang your little song.. to the hymn Rise up oh men of God. It works.. try it.
    See you soon on Zoom… Shelly

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 15, 2023 at 7:55 am

      Well, you’re tough. Three shots at once.! Happy I “made your morning”, dear Shelly. Hoping to make our CBS zoom class but feeling sleepy and achy at the moment. But, hopefully, I can listen and learn from this class of wise women.

  • Reply Barbara Chapman November 15, 2023 at 10:06 am

    Thanks so much for the encouragement this morning. Life is trying to throw this little family off the cliff. At 93 and 91, we don’t have a lot of reserve. All the problems seemed to evaporate when I read this. God is good all the time.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

      Oh, thank you, dear Barbara. We’re not in this alone. Jesus walks with us and with those we’re praying for, whether they know it or not. May God bless you with patient hope annd peace in the middle of the muddles. Thanks so mch for reading and taking the time to respond to this blog post. You encouraged me and it’s not the first time.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe November 15, 2023 at 11:57 am

    Jan, the only question I dislike more than, “What’s wrong? You look worried” is “What’s wrong? You look so tired,” to which I can only answer that it’s age they are seeing on my face, and not a darn thing I can do about it either. (I did look into injections but oh my are they expensive and they don’t last – ha!) Seriously, I alway appreciate your humor, honesty, and words-full-of-heart.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 15, 2023 at 8:52 pm

      Well, my dear Maggie. It’s mutual. And I agree that comments like “you look so tired” aren’t helpoful. Even if I look tired, there’s nothing I can do about it at the moment. Unless, excuse myself and take a nap on the spot. Well, stay away from those face lifters and wrinkle removers. I prefer FAITH LIFTS, which you often give me through your writing.

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